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Men in blue beaten black and blue

By Mark Bradshaw in Washington, D.C.
February 16, 2003 16:07 IST
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I hope Samsung has 15 jobs, because pretty soon a bunch of guys are going to need it. Am I being cruel?

Listen, if you woke up at 2.45 a.m like I did and drove through rain, sleet and ice in a gathering snowstorm on the American east coast to watch the guys play, you'd be pissed off with their performance too. That's about the kindest thing you can say about the Indian batting.

Sachin Tendulkar came out all plastered like some war hero. It took me a while to realize he is now a walking advertising hoarding. Soon they will be wiring him up to play jingles when he walks. Ganguly faced the Aussie opening bowlers with the kind of enthusiasm Saddam Hussain would have for UN weapons inspectors.

Sourav GangulyBoy, you could see they came out firing on all cinders. These days Ganguly slices so well he should be working in a salami factory. When he nicked one before he reached ten, Adam Gilchrist first called his mom on a cell phone, yelled: “I told ya so,” and then caught it.

Lots of people are saying Ganguly should drop himself down the order. I think Ganguly should drop himself, period. We could even arrange a privy purse for him.

They say Sehwag is a clone of Tendulkar. Well, maybe. But dude, the idea is when the maestro is in groove and has just taken 14 off McGrath, take a single and give back the strike. Your time will come.

I recall seeing an ad in India showing Sehwag jump off a cliff to take a catch before a parachute opens up. How come there isn't a parachute when he is batting? Some days you can blast, but some days you gotta be a ballast.

Rahul Dravid has once again reverted to the original Rahul Dravid, the true self who takes 21 balls to make a run, puts the in form non-striker under pain and pressure (and invariably it is Tendulkar who bears the burden of his stodginess), and derails the whole game plan. The Wall? How about The Mountain? I felt like calling him and saying, “the idea, dude, is to look for an occasional single". I mean, like one or two an over; not one or two a week!!

By the way, do these guys carry cell phones in their pocket? No? Then why are they endorsing Samsung, huh?

Anyway, the muddle order expectedly collapsed, and before long we were all betting on (a) whether they would reach hundred and (b) whether they would last 50 overs (c) whether we could finish the tea and cookies before the game was over and (d) whether they would beat Namibia. Can't GoI send an SoS to Sam Nujoma or whoever to save our you know what?

They way they faced up to Jason Gillespie you would have thought he is Osama bin Laden hurling weapons of mass destruction. Don't laugh; but did you see the striking resemblance between Gillespie and bin Laden?

The Americans aren't interested in him (bin Laden) any more but the Indians sure loved Gillespie. 13 runs in ten overs for three wickets? You don't get that kind of analysis in Test cricket.

Anyway, the Indians finally got to 100 thanks to Harbhajan Singh, who should be endorsing old fashioned Punjabi agricultural practice and nothing else -- oh, maybe the advanced light helicopter. Towards the end, the Aussies began to fool around. Darren Lehmann kept throwing himself on the ground and rolling around like a frisky puppy. At one time, the Aussies were begging the Indians to take more runs of them, suspecting some deep, dark, diabolical plot (deny them batting practice and a good look at out bowling; win the other games; ambush them in the super six, ha ha ha!).

But cannier than the Aussies, we just wouldn't oblige; and it was as predictable as Ganguly's salami slice when Kumble ran Srinath out. These guys have done it so often that I think they have private bet as to who can run who out.

India is always a dangerous team defending 125. Do you remember when they defeated Pakistan defending the same total?  Sure enough it was total mayhem when Australia came out to bat.

A fight had broken out in the Australian dressing room between Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden over who was going to make the majority of the 125. The rest of the batting revolted over not getting a turn at the crease. And Glenn McGrath threatened to sue Ponting for not bowling his full quota.

I told ya; we've got the Aussies wrangling among themselves. They've gone to pieces. They'll be a pushover in the Super Six. If we get there. Past Zimbabwe. Past Namibia. Past an England that's already forfeited four points. And most of all, past India itself.

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Mark Bradshaw in Washington, D.C.