It?s Lee vs Tendulkar
We have got the World Cup final we wanted. We have the best two teams on form ? Australia with the reputation as the best in the world, and one of the best ever, while India is the emerging powerhouse.Updated: Mar 23, 2003 00:09 IST
We have got the World Cup final we wanted. We have the best two teams on form -- Australia with the reputation as the best in the world, and one of the best ever, while India is the emerging powerhouse.
The battle at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday could be decided on the outcome of the duel between Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar. Lee will be the key for Australia as much as Tendulkar will be for India.
The winner of this game within a game may well decide the outcome of this World Cup final.
This final will also be the litmus test for Sourav Ganguly and the new-look Indian team. For the past six weeks they have made steady progress as they have built their confidence upon the foundation of winning cricket matches once again.
The fact that most of these wins have been easy victories over some eminently beatable teams is not necessarily a concern for them. Winning needs to be practiced as much as any other element of the game.
The blending of youthful exuberance with the experience of the senior players gives the Indian team a look of solidity that has not been evident too often in recent times. On form it may well be the best team in the competition at this moment. This is good timing!
The strength of the Indian team will always be built around Sachin Tendulkar as he is one of the most damaging players ever to have played the game. What is different about this team is that Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif have all shown some form.
Despite this depth, I believe Tendulkar will need to play one of his imposing innings at the top of the order to neutralise the danger of Brett Lee. As the pre-eminent player of fast bowling in the world today, Tendulkar has the ability to tame Lee and make the job of the other batsmen that much easier.
Unless conditions are loaded so far in favour of bowling, I don't believe any of the other Australian bowlers pose the same threat to India that Lee does. No doubt they will bowl well -- they always do -- but none of them has the explosive pace that can sort the men from the boys quite as definitely as Lee can.
Wanderers will offer all bowlers some pace and bounce, but that can work just as much in favour of the batsman if bowlers only rely on pace. We saw what happened to Shoaib Akthar and Waqar Younis when they played India at Centurion Park.
First Published: Mar 23, 2003 00:09 IST