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It's not Aus vs Sachin: Lehmann

The World Cup final won't just be a showdown between the Australian pacemen and Sachin Tendulkar, at least not as far as Darren Lehmann is concerned.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2003 18:38 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

The World Cup final won't just be a showdown between the Australian pacemen and Sachin Tendulkar, at least not as far as Darren Lehmann is concerned.

Tendulkar has been the inspiration behind India's recent success in the 14-nation tournament and would be once again expected to set the benchmark in Sunday's final at Wanderers against the ruthless Australians.

The Indian opener has amassed a World Cup record 669 runs in 10 matches with a century and six fifties.

Meanwhile, Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly (441 runs) also has more runs than any other batsman in the tournament, followed by Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif, each with 200 runs or more.

"They've got some class players. We've got to bowl well to all their players," said Lehmann, who bats at No. 5 for Australia. "If we do that we've got them under enough pressure and hopefully they'll crack."

Although, Lehmann said Tendulkar's wicket would be vital. "He's a great batter. He's been a great batter for many years and probably the best player in the world," the 32-year-old Lehmann said.

"We just hope we bowl well to him and he makes a mistake. If he does that we've got to capitalize on that and work hard." Lehmann said Tendulkar, the No.1 limited-overs batsman in cricket, was the "class player" of the tournament, but the Indians hadn't won here by relying on the batting maestro alone.

Australia hammered India by nine wicket in a Group A match on a pace-friendly Centurion pitch and once again a pace-blitz led by Brett Lee is expected to trouble India's batting lineup.

"Obviously they'll be wary of our quick bowlers. We'll go hard at them again. They've got to just withstand that of course. Hopefully they won't," Lehmann said.

"They'll be under a lot of pressure. The Indian public will expect them to win ... demand them to win." Lehmann said Australia was well accustomed to handling the nerves of a World Cup final with six of its current players being part of the success in 1999.

"World Cup finals come around only every four years. You have to get there to start with, and we've done that, and now its a two-horse race," he said. "I suppose the side that settles quickly and takes first advantage of it will stand in a good stead to win it."

Australia is chasing its 17th consecutive one-day win, while also bidding to become the first side to win the World Cup three times and the first team to defend successfully since the West Indies in 1979.

Lehmann, a veteran in domestic cricket but a later stater in the international scene, said one bad day could spoil the tournament for his team.

"We've geared towards playing the perfect game in the final," said Lehmann of Australia's unbeaten run so far. "We've worked hard throughout the tournament to make sure the final is our perfect game.

"We've changed things around throughout the tournament— batting orders, bowling orders, different things on the ground. Everyone is ready to go in the prime form basically to play the best game they can in the final."

Lehmann, who hit the winning runs in the 1999 final against Pakistan at Lord's, said it will be moment to look back when he retires.

"That was a great moment for me in sport and a great moment for Australians in sport," recalled the moment when he cut offspinner Saqlain Mushtaq to the point boundary. But "that's done and dusted now."

The Australians had only one thing in mind.

"The main objective now is to win this World Cup. The plan is to play really good cricket which we have done so far in this tournament... there's no reason to change coming into the final."

Australia will be wary it was India that ended Australia's record 16-test winning streak during the test series in India in 2001. There, it was a spirited rally from 1-0 down that propelled India to a 2-1 series win.

"You lose one if you don't play well, simple as that. You shouldn't lose if you play well. "The pressure obviously is on us— the world's No.1 and (everyone) expects us to win.

"We can only play as well as we can. Hopefully that's good enough to get us across the line. The pressure is there but its in the background with us more so than in the forefront."

First Published: Mar 21, 2003 18:38 IST