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to India's fortunes

Tendulkar, Dravid hold the key
to India's fortunes

By Vivian Richards
March 21, 2003 21:31 IST
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The Indians have travelled the longest distance as far as this tournament is concerned. In their first game, they were bowled out by Holland for a little over 200, and today they are on the threshold of their second World Cup final. Whatever happens from now on, Indian fans should be proud of their team, and if things don't go their way, they must not resort to the kind of rubbish that followed India's loss to Australia in the league phase.

The Indians were lucky to have drawn Kenya in the semi-finals, but they deserved their luck. The Kenyans have been a good side in this tournament but they were clearly out of depth against Sourav Ganguly and his boys. The result of this game was pretty much taken for granted, and, fortunately, the weather held out to ensure that we had a full game at Durban.

So what must the Indians do before the final. I have often been asked about how I felt on the eve of the three World Cup finals in which I had the privilege of playing. I always kept it simple, and never lost sight of the fact that while reaching the final is an achievement, the biggest achievement is winning that game. I did all the small things right -- went to bed early on the eve of the match, did not go around signing too much memorabilia, and tried to keep interaction with supporters and fans to the minimum. I have seen finalists often get so excited about getting that far that they start giving bits and pieces from their kits to followers.

The main players must be calm and quiet for India over the next couple of days. Sachin Tendulkar is a very level-headed individual and I'm sure he has been in big situations in the past. Even in this World Cup, the game against Pakistan was a huge one, and I was very impressed with the way he responded to the challenge of chasing a big total against a quality bowling attack. On Sunday, he must play his natural game, back his instincts and not get bogged down by all the talk that he holds the key to the game. He must also be relieved that the other batsmen, some of whom were looking so out of form at the start of the World Cup, are now in prime form. I think that other than Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid will play a key role in the final. They are the two guys that the Australians will be after, and it will be a test to their temperament whether they will be able to take the pressure.

The bowlers are the other plus for the Indians. Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan have supported Srinath marvellously. They are right now as threatening as any attack in this tournament, and could be crucial to the outcome of the match. If they get early wickets against the Aussies, anything can happen from then on.

This match promises to be a great one. I have a feeling that every team is due a hiccup in a tournament. Australia have come close to losing, but they have held on till now. Will they hang on together for one more game, only time will tell. (Gameplan)

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Vivian Richards