Indian team not cut out for One-Day match

It must be galling for the Indians to watch their arch-rival Pakistan, which is so adept at it, making dramatic progress.

Sunil Gavaskar was on the defensive for most of his innings. No blame to him for that with wickets tumbling 22 yards away.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

Sadly India has been toppled out of the World Cup as comprehensively as a slain cavalryman who bit the Deccan dust in a far-off war. Perhaps the unfortunate cavalryman was doomed to drop out of his saddle. On paper, India would not be favoured to reach the semifinals once New Zealand had made arrangements to haul in all its English county players.

New Zealand won by eight wickets with three overs to spare. The scores: India 182 and New Zealand 183 for two.

Glenn Turner is like a totem for the New Zealanders, a latter-day Vijay Merchant. He has not worn the black cap with the silver fern for years. There have been rows about availability and about expenses. Meanwhile, the skin on the face of a great batsman has grown leathery with the passing of the seasons. He is an old hand, better in that role than even Sunil Gavaskar or Gundappa Viswanath.

I asked Graham Dowling why he had suddenly reappeared. New Zealanders do not utter many words, but they often speak volumes. "We've got a new bunch of selectors," he said, which was answer enough. Sensibly, they have picked a team for one-day cricket: their most reliable players, their best medium pacers and their best wicketkeeper.

Perhaps if India had won the toss on both the occasions instead of having to bat first... At Headingley, the conditions were ideal for the medium pacers, who can always do their job best if the spearhead has grabbed control of the garne from the first over as Richard Hadlee did. And Headingley is a fast medium pacers' ground.

Gavaskar was on the defensive for most of his innings. No blame to him for that with wickets tumbling 22 yards away. It was Brijesh Patel who seemed prepared to grab the initiative and between the 40th and 50th overs India had its finest half an hour. With six men back in England's most modern pavilion, that was too late.

New Zealand proceeded to rub in the message that one-day cricket matches are won by sides getting a good start. Bruce Edgar is going to be a great player one day, in the mould of the slightly built left-handers like Bert Sutcliffe, who taught him to play. Once he and John Wright bad put on 100, the match was effectively over, even though the run rate achieved had been more methodical than dashing. Both Bishan Singh Bedi and S. Venkatraghavan bowled their 12 overs at under three runs, which contrasted somewhat with the eight runs Graham Yallop and Allan Border were giving Pakistan in the 12 overs they bowled.

The promotion of Lance Cairns, the blacksmith, was a sign of anxiety. As so often, such a move failed because of Patel's brilliant run-out from square-leg. Had Glenn Turner been stumped on the leg-side or caught by Kapil Dev when he had made only five, India might just have completed the process of strangling attrition in the fleld, which was its last slender hope of victory. New Zealand still wanted 60 runs for victory and the light was fading.

Venkatraghavan has done all he could with the resources at his disposal. The side has been keen and well motivated. But neither by talent nor by experience are these cricketers well suited to the one-day game. It must be galling to watch their arch-rival Pakistan, which is so adept at it, making dramatic progress in the other group.

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