Yuvi has evolved remarkably

Published on Mar 03, 2003 12:18 AM IST

Sachin Tendulkar aptly gave the roar that dented the Pakistan psyche and sparked off rejoice in a country after their team won the mother of all battles in the World Cup.

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PTI | ByNavjot Sidhu

India have always been a lion-hearted nation and, on Saturday, Sachin Tendulkar aptly gave the roar that dented the Pakistan psyche and sparked off rejoice in a country after their team won the mother of all battles in the World Cup.

It was as if God had descended on Planet Earth to bat for around two hours. Flowing like a rampaging river, almost unstoppable, Tendulkar conjured the feisty qualities that we are so accustomed to associating with him. Within an hour of taking guard, he pummelled the Pakistan bowling into submission.

In the process, he stripped two of the world's best fast bowlers off their pride. Occasions will not make men strong or weak, they will show what mettle they are made of. And in what was expected to be a gut-wrenching contest, amid all the hype and hoopla that surrounded it, Tendulkar was at the forefront of India's comprehensive win.

Sourav Ganguly is the Indian captain but Tendulkar is easily the leader of the pack, the helmsman. Indeed, the echoes of Tendulkar's deafening roar of Saturday has announced India as a serious contender for the Cup.

Well, what does one say new of a man who is in a league of his own and is, perhaps, at the peak of his prowess as a destructive batsman? The swagger is back and so is the arrogance but, above all, it is clear that the joy and flair are restored as he is enjoying his role at the top of the order.

As he unleashed a stunning array of strokes one moment caressing the ball down the track and in the next belting it square of the wicket, the alarming rate at which he scored ensured that there would be no pressure on the batsmen who came after him.

Tendulkar fell short of a landmark century but his 98 eclipsed a very good hundred by Saeed Anwar for Pakistan. For a team that approached the game with their mind on the boisterous sea of doubt, Pakistan were helped by a benign pitch where Anwar found form to erect the platform for a challenging total.

Yet, India could have restricted Pakistan to 250 and less had they not conceded far too many wides and no-balls. Zaheer Khan, well as he has been bowling, does seem a lot more comfortable and accurate with the older cricket ball than the new.

Ashish Nehra, who naturally swings the ball, can probe the batsmen when the ball retains its shine. There is indeed some food for thought for the Indian camp that he should take up the new ball. It was also a bit worrisome that while Zaheer bowled superbly in the death, particularly the penultimate over, he does not seem to have anyone to pair up with him.

Nehra was expensive and India will have some work to do in this area over the next few days. To revert to India's batting, which really won the day, Mohammed Kaif deserves praise for the courage he showed in playing at No. 4 -- rotating the strike for Tendulkar during the third-wicket stand -- but I still think the man cut out for this position is Rahul Dravid.

He sets the stalls, anchoring the innings and staying back to be able to put his stamp with a pulled boundary that marked a win for India on Saturday. The left-handed Yuvraj Singh deserves praise for evolving as a match-winner, one who can be counted upon to deliver. Adversity has been a great teacher. He has shown remarkable maturity since returning to the side after a spell in the wilderness and has shouldered the responsibility most admirably.

He has placed a premium on his wicket and has been the perfect foil for Dravid. Yet again, he made a half-century in a winning cause. For all that may or may not happen in the Super Six stage -- the right train of thought can take you to a better station in life -- let us savour memories of a wonderful innings by the master, one which sent India on the highway to a grand victory.

The lion has marked his territory and India are looking good to challenge the very best.

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