Pak body language belied self-belief
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Pak body language belied self-belief

Some bowlers intimidate batsmen but it is a rare genius who intimidates bowlers as Sachin Tendulkar did in the high-voltage match against Pakistan.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2003 01:11 IST

Some bowlers intimidate batsmen but it is a rare genius who intimidates bowlers as Sachin Tendulkar did in the high-voltage match against Pakistan when his competitive juices were flowing.

It was heady stuff! And India will now take much more than just the points from their impressive six-wicket win against their traditional rivals through to the business end of this World Cup.

India booked their passage through to the Super Six stage and the win on Saturday continued the revival of the team since the demoralising defeat by the Australians at the start of the tournament.

In this form, Ganguly and his team are capable of beating anyone but they must believe in themselves and be prepared to play with the freedom they have shown in recent matches.

Pakistan have yet to win a World Cup match against India and if they are to do so they need to develop some subtlety to go with the sledge-hammer approach. Full frontal assault has not done the trick for them so far.

Thankfully, it was a day game because Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat on an excellent batting wicket. Nehra, for one, found conditions very different from those experienced at Kingsmead the other evening.

Saeed Anwar continued his love affair with the Indian bowling. It was an innings that started tentatively but grew into the more assured and elegant version of Anwar that we have come to know and appreciate.

When he was finally bowled in the 41st over by a near perfect Nehra yorker, Anwar had anchored the Pakistan innings and had set the solid foundation for their total of 273 for seven.

Rashid Latif did a fine job in the last ten overs to ensure a competitive total while Wasim Akram played some lusty shots at the end to complete a frustrating day for Nehra.

The total of 273 would have been excellent had it been a night game but as conditions were not going to change in the afternoon Pakistan would have felt uneasy about the Indian top order, especially Tendulkar.

The other thing that has to be noted is that grounds here in South Africa are generally on the small side and Centurion is one of the smaller grounds of the World Cup rotation. A score of 270 in 50 overs here would only be seen as par.

For me, the prospect of the Pakistan pace attack challenging the immense skills of Tendulkar and his look-alike Virender Sehwag was an exciting proposition.

Early wickets were always going to be important for Pakistan to make the score resemble 300, so Waqar Younis decided to go with his big guns Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram.

The scene was set for a classic confrontation and whoever won the first round was going to take a huge step toward winning the game and getting through to the next stage in good shape. The loser may well be consigned to an early exit.

The showdown had an explosive start. Neither Akram nor Shoaib had a chance to settle before Tendulkar struck the first psychological blows by dispatching both bowlers to various parts of the ground.

Wasim brought some sanity to the proceedings in his second over while Waqar replaced Shoaib after just one over.

Sehwag proceeded to unsettle him by hitting his first delivery for an even bigger six over third man.

The pace and bounce was suiting the aggression of the two Indian openers. Fire was being used to fight fire.

First Published: Mar 03, 2003 01:11 IST