SPORTS TRIBUNE
 


Brave new breed
The absence of stalwarts gave Indian youngsters a golden opportunity to shine on the world stage. Showing exemplary courage under fire, they grabbed it with both hands, writes Ivninderpal Singh
The Twenty20 World Cup victory epitomises the prowess of Young India. Clinching the trophy without stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid is a clear indicator of GenNext taking charge of Team India. Peaking at the right time and holding their nerve in tight situations, these youngsters played with freshness and self-belief to take India on top of the world. Four years ago, it was at the same venue, the Wanderers in Johannesburg, when Australia halted India’s dream run in the World Cup. Rohit Sharma (left), Joginder Sharma and Sreesanth made light of their inexperience with exuberance and tenacity
Rohit Sharma (left), Joginder Sharma and Sreesanth made light of their inexperience with exuberance and tenacity — Photos by Reuters

Yuvraj comes of age
Vikramdeep Johal
Superman — that’s what Yograj Singh wants his son to become. In two crucial matches of the Twenty20 World Cup, the born-again Yuvraj Singh did play like one. He was simply unstoppable against England and Australia, hitting sixes almost at will.
After his heroics in the shortest version of the game, time is ripe for Yuvraj to stamp his class on the longest one — Photos by AP/PTI
After his heroics in the shortest version of the game, time is ripe for Yuvraj to stamp his class on the longest one

Maria’s feast
ON a high after celebrating the second anniversary of her maiden WTA Tour success with another title, Russian Maria Kirilenko has set her sights on keeping up the momentum in the remaining events of the year. “I am happy to win my second title. I want to continue the good work, but I know it is going to be a bit difficult,” she said after decimating unheralded Ukrainian Mariya Korrytseva 6-0, 6-2 in the $175,000 WTA Sunfeast Open in Kolkata.

Russia’s Maria Kirilenko was in great form during the Sunfeast Open — Photo by AFP
Russia’s Maria Kirilenko was in great form during the Sunfeast Open

 
IN THE NEWS
So near yet...
Pakistani batsman Misbah-ul-Haq might say that he has no regrets over attempting the fatal scoop in the Twenty20 World Cup final, but that moment is likely to haunt him for a lifetime. Take Chetan Sharma — Can he ever forget that last-ball six hit by Javed Miandad off his bowling in the 1986 Australasia Cup final?

Misbah-ul-Haq waged a lone battle for Pakistan in the Twenty20 final, but he faltered at the last hurdle. — Photo by Reuters 
Misbah-ul-Haq waged a lone battle for Pakistan in the Twenty20 final, but he faltered at the last hurdle

 

   

 

  • Class of 1983 revisited

  • Bad conduct

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Brave new breed
The absence of stalwarts gave Indian youngsters a golden opportunity to shine on the world stage. Showing exemplary courage under fire, they grabbed it with both hands, writes Ivninderpal Singh

The Twenty20 World Cup victory epitomises the prowess of Young India. Clinching the trophy without stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid is a clear indicator of GenNext taking charge of Team India. Peaking at the right time and holding their nerve in tight situations, these youngsters played with freshness and self-belief to take India on top of the world.

Four years ago, it was at the same venue, the Wanderers in Johannesburg, when Australia halted India’s dream run in the World Cup. But the young guns changed the script this time. Oozing confidence, they showed attitude and killer instinct to beat arch-rivals Pakistan in the pulsating final.

They played as a cohesive unit, excelling in all departments of the game. After the batsmen did their job, great bowling coupled with excellent fielding fetched positive results. Be it Super Eight matches against England and South Africa or the semifinal and final against Australia and Pakistan, respectively, they never gave a chance to the opposition to dominate the proceedings. Unperturbed by all the pressure, they carried on.

The best part of the success story is that many of them were playing for the first time at the highest level. With hardly any ODI experience, players like Rohit Sharma, Joginder Sharma and Robin Uthappa proved their mettle. A slightly more experienced trio of Gautam Gambhir, RP Singh and S. Sreesanth displayed their skills to the hilt.

Twenty-year-old Borivali boy Rohit, who was declared the man of the match in the crucial encounter against South Africa, remained unbeaten throughout the tournament. On a couple of occasions, he came in during the final overs of the innings and contributed valuable runs. His unbeaten 30 against Pakistan in the final helped India set up a challenging total.

If Rohit held his nerve with the bat, Joginder did it with the ball. Cool captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni reposed faith in him and he fully came up to the former’s expectations. Though cricket fans were surprised at Dhoni’s move, Joginder struck when India needed him to fire. He bowled the last over in the semifinal and the final, grabbing two wickets each in both matches.

The defining moment of the final was the run-out of Imran Nazir, who was batting very well. Karnataka boy Uthappa’s magical throw hit the stumps, bringin India back in contention. Earlier, he had made a solid fifty against Pakistan in the group match.

Gambhir and RP Singh performed in high-pressure games. Gambhir played a well-paced 75 off 54 balls in the final, the highest individual score for India in the competition, and anchored the innings in the absence of Virender Sehwag. Among the highest run getters in the tournament, he finished only behind Matthew Hayden.

Schedule
Sept 29 Bangalore
Oct 2 Kochi
Oct 5 Hyderabad
Oct 8 Chandigarh
Oct 11 Vadodara
Oct 14 Nagpur
Oct 17 Mumbai

RP Singh was the pick of the Indian bowlers with 12 wickets in seven games at an economy rate of just over six (Only Pakistan’s Umar Gul (13) took more wickets than him in the mega event). His best spell was against hosts South Africa when he struck early, shifting the balance in India’s favour.

If RP proved too tough for the Proteas, Sreesanth troubled world champions Australia. He returned enviable figures of 4-1-12-2, claiming the prized scalps of Adam Gilchrist and Hayden. Above all, his aggressive body language personified the youthful exuberance of Team India.

It is no doubt a great beginning, but the team still has a long way to go. After excelling in the shortest form of the game, it’s time to keep the momentum going against Australia in one-dayers.

Watch out for Oz

There is nothing more dangerous in world cricket than humbled Aussies. Remember how they routed England 5-0 in the Ashes early this year to avenge the 2005 defeat? Having lost to India in the Twenty20 World Cup semifinal, they will be itching to strike back. The hosts, on the other hand, need to improve their ODI record against the formidable rivals. The seven-match series begins today, followed by a T20 game on October 20.

Head to Head
Venue M Ind Aus NR*
India 30 12 15 3
Aus 30 6 24 0
Neutral 23 9 12 2
83 27 51 5

* No result

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Yuvraj comes of age
Vikramdeep Johal

Superman — that’s what Yograj Singh wants his son to become. In two crucial matches of the Twenty20 World Cup, the born-again Yuvraj Singh did play like one. He was simply unstoppable against England and Australia, hitting sixes almost at will.

Track record

            M     R       Av       H/F     W        Av

Tests  19    830   33.20  2/3      1       90

ODIs   183  5109 36.23   7/30  49  39.71

T20      6      148   29.60   0/2       1  38

M-matches, R-runs, Av-average, H/F-hundreds/fifties, W-wickets

It’s true that the entire team contributed towards India’s historic triumph, but it was Yuvraj’s brilliant performances which shone more brightly than those of the others. Being a senior member of the squad, he made his experience count in crunch situations.

What’s most remarkable about his feat of hitting six sixes in an over is that he did it against a pace bowler (Stuart Broad). Garfield Sobers, Ravi Shastri and Herschelle Gibbs had achieved it against spinners (Malcolm Nash, Tilak Raj and Daan van Bunge, respectively). Being a pacer, Broad could have tried out various things to break Yuvraj’s rhythm — a bouncer, a yorker or a widish delivery. The fact that he failed to do any of these shows he was just too stunned by the batsman’s onslaught.

Broad might be a rookie, but Australian speedsters Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are not. However, even the latter were not spared the “sixy” treatment. Taking to Twenty20 like a duck to water, Yuvraj also smashed the two fastest fifties of the new format.

The Chandigarhian seems to have been around for so long that it’s hard to believe he’s just 25 (he will turn 26 on December 12). The southpaw burst on to the international scene during the ICC Champions Trophy in Nairobi, 2000. After not getting a chance to bat in his debut match against Kenya, he took on the Aussies in the next game. The then 18-year-old fearlessly blasted the mighty bowling attack to score a masterly 84, thereby ousting the world champions from the tournament. India went on to finish runners-up, losing to New Zealand in the final.

Less than two years later, he helped India pull off a miraculous win at Lord’s in the NatWest Trophy final against England. Although it was Mohammad Kaif who finished off the match with an unbeaten 83, Yuvraj’s 69 off 63 balls steadied the innings after early setbacks. He and Kaif delivered even as heavyweights Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid came a cropper.

He was also an important member of the team that shared the Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002 and reached the final of the 2003 World Cup under Sourav Ganguly’s leadership.

Yuvraj’s confidence has always been high, but inconsistency has proved to be his undoing many a time. Great knocks have alternated with pedestrian efforts. His fielding has been superb all the way, but his bowling has remained part-time at best. Above all, his temperamental nature has sometimes overshadowed his prodigious talent.

Nevertheless, his success has been substantial enough to make his father swell with pride. Yograj, a famous Punjabi film actor, was himself a pace bowler who got to play just one Test (against New Zealand at Wellington in 1981, the year Yuvraj was born) and six ODIs in his career. His sole Test victim was none other than John Wright, the Kiwi who played a part in honing Yuvraj’s skills over two decades later as India’s coach.

After his heroic feats in the shortest version of the game, it’s time for him to stamp his class on the longest one. It’s a pity that Yuvraj has been in and out of the Test squad. He has so far played only 19 Tests, compared to 183 one-dayers. His two Test hundreds have been scored against Pakistan under adverse circumstances, at Lahore in 2004 and Karachi in 2006. Yuvi stood tall amid the ruins, even though he couldn’t save India from defeat in both games.

Despite these knocks, he has struggled to shed the tag of a “one-day specialist”. Playing in the shadow of the “Big Three” — Sachin, Sourav and Rahul — hasn’t helped matters. If all goes well, he will get an opportunity to prove his mettle in the Test series against Pakistan later this year.

A great player ought to excel in all forms of the game. That’s what makes guys like Matthew Hayden and Mahendra Singh Dhoni stand apart. If Yuvraj is able to perform this juggling act, he will certainly become a real cricketing Superman. 

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Maria’s feast

ON a high after celebrating the second anniversary of her maiden WTA Tour success with another title, Russian Maria Kirilenko has set her sights on keeping up the momentum in the remaining events of the year.

“I am happy to win my second title. I want to continue the good work, but I know it is going to be a bit difficult,” she said after decimating unheralded Ukrainian Mariya Korrytseva 6-0, 6-2 in the $175,000 WTA Sunfeast Open in Kolkata.

It was on the same day (September 23) two years ago that Kirilenko had won her first Tour title in Beijing.

The Russian, who had upset Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in the semifinal, was pleasantly surprised with the unique canvas trophy presented by the organisers.

“This is the first time I am receiving something (painting by Wasim Kapoor) like this. It will definitely find a place in my house.” — Agencies 

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IN THE NEWS
So near yet...

Pakistani batsman Misbah-ul-Haq might say that he has no regrets over attempting the fatal scoop in the Twenty20 World Cup final, but that moment is likely to haunt him for a lifetime. Take Chetan Sharma — Can he ever forget that last-ball six hit by Javed Miandad off his bowling in the 1986 Australasia Cup final?

All those who criticise his shot selection must not forget that it was Misbah who brought Pakistan to the doorstep of a possible victory. Had his shot crossed the boundary, Pakistan would’ve won the Cup and he would’ve received the man-of-the-match award. The really guilty ones are Younis Khan and “player of the tournament” Shahid Afridi, who both fell to irresponsible strokes when their team badly needed them to stay at the wicket.

It won’t be wrong to describe Misbah as an enigma in Pakistan cricket. The 33-year-old has played only five Tests so far, the last one being against Bangladesh in August, 2003. In one-dayers, the number is 12, the last versus Zimbabwe in October, 2004. Despite an ordinary record in international cricket, he was picked for the just-concluded World Cup due to exceptional performances in Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 competition. Inzamam-ul-Haq’s retirement and Mohammad Yousuf’s shock omission also facilitated his comeback.

The rest is history, in a way. Misbah almost single-handedly pulled off a win against India in the group match with a fighting fifty. He unfortunately lost his wicket going for a run that would’ve been the winning one. In the Super Eights, he orchestrated Pakistan’s victory over Australia with a superb unbeaten 66. In the final, he was again the top scorer for his side with 43.

All said and done, Pakistan have “rediscovered” a solid batsman who can make an impact in Test as well as one-dayers. — Agencies

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SPORTS MAIL

Class of 1983 revisited

India created history by winning the inaugural Twenty 20 World Cup against all odds, beating arch-rivals Pakistan by five runs in the final. India did not post a big total, but captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni used his bowlers effectively to successfully defend it.

After the victory, he took off his T-shirt in a repeat of what Sourav Ganguly had done after the NatWest Trophy final in 2002. The win evoked memories of the 1983 World Cup victory over the West Indies.

Nobody expected the Indians to progress even to the semifinals in view of their inexperience in the new format and their disastrous performance in the ODI World Cup.

India had a new captain and some new faces. The likes of Robin Uthappa, Joginder Sharma and Rohit Sharma rose to the occasion. Dhoni was lucky enough to win the toss five times.

Rajiv Bakshi, Gurdaspur

II

Heartiest congratulations to the Men in Blue for lifting the Twenty 20 World Cup. Dhoni and his young team emulated Kapil’s Devils, who won the ODI World Cup in 1983. It was an exciting final which will be remembered for long time. Significantly, two teams from the Indian subcontinent reached the final, thus ending Australia’s monopoly.

Pakistan also deserve praise for putting up a good fight in the final. They could have turned the tables but it was the perseverance of the Indian team that made the difference.

It was a delight to see Chak De! India hero Shah Rukh Khan in the stadium to cheer the team. Dhoni’s men have fulfilled the aspirations of all Indians. One hopes this tempo will be maintained.

Dilbag Rai, Chandigarh

III

Kudos to the Indian team for their remarkable win in the Twenty20 World Cup. It was reminiscent of the 1983 World Cup victory over the West Indies. It will act as a morale-booster for the youth of the country. With this triumph, the team has made amends for their inglorious exit from the ODI World Cup in West Indies.

The final was a see-saw battle in which the Men in Blue showed rare self-confidence, a never-say-die spirit and the will to win when the chips were down.

Gurdershan Singh, Chandigarh

Bad conduct

Temperamental pacer S. Sreesanth was penalised for breaching the Code of Conduct during the Twenty20 World Cup semifinal versus Australia. Such behaviour is nothing new for him. Captain MS Dhoni must have a serious talk with him and restrain him from excessive appealing or behaving wildly on the field.

Our bowlers must never try to copy the nasty behaviour of South Africa’s Andre Nel. He is a big blot on the fair name of this game. Dhoni would also have to ensure that the team is not fined for slow over rate in future.

D.B.Singh, Chandigarh

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