"Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it. " ~ Mahatma Gandhi


Cricket: Win at Lords

Manohar V. Rakhe was an umpire with the Middlesex League for 11 years. Here he follows avidly as India wins the Natwest Tri Series, 2002 in his adopted home, England.

The last memorable match India won at Lords was the World Cup Final, back in 1983. The West Indies who were firm favourites to win that game, threw the game away by not getting the score they were set to get. India nearly did the same last Saturday. Every Indian worth his salt was either at Lords, cheering our boys, or was indoors, glued to the TV set. In our house I am the only one completely mad about cricket. But it being the final and that too against England, both my wife and mother-in-law were watching the game with me. India had enjoyed a successful run in the matches before the final, barring a couple of games they lost or that were washed out, due to persistent rain, up in Chester-le-Street.

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Ganguly A final at Lords, be it among local county sides or International sides is always a special occasion. Just how special it was going to turn out to be nobody could have guessed. Lords being the holiest of holy places for all cricket lovers, those playing there for the first time, are invariably somewhat nervous. But Indians, and generally those from the subcontinent, get tremendous vocal support from their fans.

At 10.30 on Saturday, the ground was packed, mostly with Indians. It was a wonderful sight with all those Indian flags being waved about. There were drums being played. The whole atmosphere was more like a carnival, than a very important cricket match. Although it was very noisy, there was no rowdyism. There was an air of fun, festivity and celebration.


India started badly, by losing the toss. England opening batsman Marcus Trescothick was in a murderous form. He had taken a heavy toll of all the opposition bowlers hitherto. He continued that form in this match. He hit the Indian attack to all corners of the ground and went on to notch a century. It is a curious fact about Trescothick, that in every limited overs match he has scored a century for England, England have lost that match. That was very comforting to keep in the back of one's mind. Every shot that Trescothick played, was warmly applauded by the largely Indian crowd.

Nick Knight's poor run of scores continued. That brought in the England Captain, Nasser Hussain. There have been suggestions in the media that Hussain should bat lower down the order and promote strokemakers like Flintoff up the order. How much that had upset Hussain only became evident, when he reached his century. He angrily pointed his helmet to the number on the back of his shirt, drawing the attention of his antagonists. After both the centurians departed, there was a brief flurry from Flintoff and the England innings closed at 325. Although the pitch was very batsman friendly, it was never going to be easy to overhaul such a huge total. A lot was expected from the Indian openers, Sehwag & Ganguly. They both flayed the English attack and in that effort, perished. That brought in Mongia and the god himself. Arriving to the now customary, thunderous applause, he disappointed several millions of his fans, including me. Tendulkar, Mongia & Dravid left in quick succession. At 146 for five, all appeared to be lost. Despondency and gloom descended on Lords. The crowd went very quiet.

KaifThe two young hopefuls, Yuvaraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif had other ideas. For lads of under 22, they both showed a great deal of maturity, not wasting a single opportunity to add to the Indian total. Yuvaraj, Harbhajan Singh & Kumble perished. But Kaif held his nerve and in the company of Zaheer Khan, won the Natwest Trophy for India. Kaif was, very deservedly, named Man of The Match.


Now the one-day series, sometimes known as the Pyjama Game is complete. Attention should be given to repeat our strong one-day performances in the forthcoming Test series. The series kicks off at Lords. As usual, a lot is expected from Tendulkar and his colleagues. It is most unfair on him, but every time the Master Blaster walks out to bat, we all expect him to notch up another century. That is the price he has to pay for achieving the status of God. With any luck, I will be there to cheer our boys from the Grand Stand, as I am still wait-listed for tickets on the Saturday of the Lords Test Match.

Many English commentators remarked about Rahul Dravid being a part-time wicketkeeper. But having seen a couple of stumpings he achieved, I think, he could very well be given the job in the forthcoming test series too. About the class of his batting, there was never any doubt. But his wicket-keeping is not too bad either. Of course keeping wicket in a 5 day test match is more onerous than in a one day game, but the idea should be considered. Indian batting being what it is, we do need players of Dravid's class on our side.

Two other players who impressed were the 2 speed merchants, Nehra & Zaheer Khan. Zaheer does, on occasion spray it about a bit, but overall he has taken well to the English conditions. But as a team, the Indian side has shown great improvement in their fielding. The 2 youngsters, Yuvaraj & Kaif impressed as close in fielders, while Tendulkar was outstanding in the outfield along with the turbanator.

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