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Doing the little things just right

Individual performers have been there before, but I have rarely seen a leader of men find himself in the 'zone'; that occasional state of existence when you feel in complete control of your world. Sourav Ganguly did Friday at Centurion.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2003 03:01 IST

Individual performers have been there before, but I have rarely seen a leader of men find himself in the 'zone'; that occasional state of existence when you feel in complete control of your world. Sourav Ganguly did Friday at Centurion.

He should have driven a Ferrari at Imola or Suzuka or any of those fancy places that Schumacher wins in. He put New Zealand in on winning the toss when nineteen times of twenty a captain would have batted first, and saw Zaheer Khan give him two wickets in the first three balls.

He sought Nehra out and got a wicket, summoned Srinath back and got another and when he waved at Zaheer one more time, a New Zealand batsman thought his time had come too.

It didn't end there. A glance at Sehwag produced one and a completely inexplicable decision to have Dinesh Mongia bowl the 46th over saw a wicket being knocked over as well. Wife Dona might have danced a few steps and taken his first one-day wicket too!

But while Ganguly's instinct was writing an amazing script, his bowlers were doing everything right. Zaheer was dogged as ever and Srinath, even enjoying a laugh with spectators at long-leg, rarely wavered from the spot he has found on a good length.

But the man making the difference to the Indian attack even on Friday was Ashish Nehra. He has hit a beautiful rhythm and that is the sign of a fit man. The third seamer had been one of Indian cricket's biggest problems over the last decade and bowling behind the new ball, Nehra has been a jewel.

His dismissal of Styris was crucial.

India did have a bit of a wobble but good sides must be tested from time to time. 21 for 3 could have been nasty especially if Brendon McCullum had held a sitter from Rahul Dravid. It was just the wake-up call Dravid needed as he once again harnessed the youthful exuberance around him to craft a match-winning effort.

At No.5 he has been a revelation, soothing nerves rather than inflaming them as he sometimes did when he was an unsure youngster. Confidence can make you grow ten feet tall. And he can run.

Mohammad Kaif kept calling him back for twos and after 45 overs behind the stumps, and conceding 7 years to his effervescent teammate, Dravid still found the energy to keep pace.

They ran beautifully, the modern master and the increasingly assured pupil. At last India are doing the little things well.

They are cutting boundaries and they are pinching singles and those are the bricks of one-day cricket.

Too often India have tried to build fancy structures with a poor foundation. Now they are moving brilliantly and playing simple cricket.

That is how it was meant to be. Young men in their early twenties picked up nine of the ten wickets to fall and another coated in youth produced a match winning innings.

And the captain, not quite 30 himself, had a blinder in charge. If the top three can blunt pace, and they stumbled a bit today, they can go all the way.

First Published: Mar 16, 2003 02:57 IST