India raise expectation ahead of final | india | Hindustan Times
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India raise expectation ahead of final

India finally played a perfect game on Saturday. It batted without a fault, fielding was decent and the bowlers stuck to their job. New Zealand were unlucky to find India in such a mood. It just gives the final on Tuesday that touch of expectation.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2003 12:41 IST

India finally played a perfect game on Saturday. It batted without a fault, fielding was decent and the bowlers stuck to their job. New Zealand were unlucky to find India in such a mood. It just gives the final on Tuesday that touch of expectation.

Once again, the match underlined how much openers mean in one-day cricket, especially in the sub-continent. Good starts are rarely wasted. Then there were quite a few famished batsmen in the Indian team. Once they had the taste of blood, they bayed for more!

Sachin Tendulkar once again raised his own batting bar magnificently. I hope all those who criticise him for not doing well in crunch games will remember this innings. He came with a batting plan which was to play uninhibited cricket.

He was more aggressive than he had been lately, lifting deliveries over the bowlers' head, hitting inside out over extra cover and there were ferocious pulls off anything short. With all those brilliant batsmen making their marks in this tournament, Tendulkar again served notice that he remains master of them all.

Cherish him as long as you can.

Virender Sehwag prospered in his company. There is little doubt that the effect of Tendulkar rubbed off on him at the other end. He swished outside the off-stump at times but his square cuts disappeared like bullets and he left many in the crowd breathless with his lofted strokes on the onside.

He does it with a flick of the wrist rather than straight-batted hits and that makes it more exciting and compelling.

He has struck form at the right time and now has a good chance to gain psychological points over the Australians in the final which would serve him well on a taxing tour Down Under.

Rahul Dravid played an innings which makes an utter nonsense of those who still find fault in him as a one-day batsman. He was so orthodox and yet so brilliant it would have pleased the Jayasuriyas and Gilchrists of this world. It just does not get much better than a half century from 22 balls. His creativity means the Indian team could maintain a faster tempo throughout their innings rather than worry the lower half is only good enough for grafting.