A winsome moment in our cricket

DID INDIA 'win the world' at Lord's on the Saturday afternoon of July 13? Going by the TV buzz, you would have thought India had already won the World Cup! The 'ODIum' attaching to 9 finals timorously lost came watchably to be washed off. Also vivid to recall is the surly Nasser Hussain's '3'-dimensional media 'back-chat' ultimately exploding in the England face. As the 3 hurdle in that 325 came to be crossed by Young India in resurgent style, BRITANNIA (in the slim, wiry shape of Mohammad Kaif - 87 not out) ruled the waves not quite the way the cocky Nasser had envisioned things. Also, Sourav (having fallen in idiot box-office esteem alongside Hrithik) gave Hero Honda a kick-start with that smash 60 on a Lord's shirt-front. A shirt-frontal assault seeing the Ind skip put traditional backs up.

Yet the bare truth is that Sourav (needing to watch the waist to which he stripped) still has the long Veldt way to go before attaining that 1983 Kapil Dev pinnacle. The pinnacle of being in the lofty position to raise the 'magnum of champagne' to his lips even while getting his neo-team members to drain it to the dregs. Such a landmark World Cup win could well encourage Kareena, for her 'spot' part, to drive emphatically home her TVIP point that Shah Rukh Khan, as 'Devdas', should be settling for her bottle of Pepsi rather than that Ash-smitten bottle of Bacardi. As for the still single-minded Laxman, the dilemma of being the 'Devdas of Indian Cricket' VVS had shown signs of overcoming in the Caribbean itself. Hopefully, VVS was viewed to carry on from Sabina Park to Lord's - in the first Test vs Nasser's England now behind us.

Thus did the momentary fantasy of Sourav again being a top 'one-day' global player give pragmatic way to the grim reality of his team measuring up in five-day Test cricket. This then is Sourav's acid Test series. CNBC has it that TVS Victor is fast catching up with Hero Honda. 'Hero' Sourav too now wins his run spurs only if he matches 'TVS' Sachin in Test-rating performance. Sourav got away with crying "Blue murder!" by pulling his shirt on India's telly mob in that NatWest final hour. By reacting the macho way he did from the goal-reaching gut, Sourav demonstrably camouflaged his vital statistics. That the captain had come truly good in the NatWest triangular tourney once and only once. With that rollercoaster 60 in the Lord's pay-off. From Lord's to The Oval now, through a four-match spread, Sourav's blade (sans the BRITANNIA tape) is compulsively required to underline the run-pick-up power of the machine Test-driving his new bat-sponsor. No way may Sourav 'Hero Hondamp-squib' now. For England is the summer scene where Sachin must feel Wisden-motivated to put his best MRF Test foot forward. Even while being TVS Victor-sped in endeavouring to serve up a repeat of that classic ODI 105 not out (108 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) vs England at Chester-le-Street (Thursday, July 4, 2002).

No matter how high be our skip's Souravalue right now. No matter how technocratic be the aspect Rahul might have presented in steering India to the NatWest ODI final. No matter what be the strides TVVS Laxman makes in the Test series during the England tour. No matter all this - the Indian captaincy confrontation (as the World Cup ends on the Sunday of March 23, 2003) is telegenically going to be between 'Hero' and 'Victor'. Between Sach and Sou. With MRF acting as the catalytic agent! Such is Sach's aura that quite a few Sportstar readers rang to ask how possibly could I have stopped with merely identifying that golden-olden 'Lagaan'-dialogue deliverer as Daaji Bhatawdekar in Ten's TVS Victor ad. What about the name of the back-seat driver as the cap-questing one taking Ten for a ride. Well, the cap here fits Sumant Mastkaar as the one baldly game for that TVS run-in with Sachin.

Such 'spot' details it is diverting to digest. Yet what we now really want is solid Sachin run-power through the three Tests left in England. Any gap he possibly left at Lord's Sachin must begin to Trent Bridge with the second Test itself. STAR Sports (starting 3 p.m. next Thursday) is on Sherwood Forest Test in Nottingham. Robin Hoodwink viewers it no longer can. STAR's unstated alibi is that it has to attune its audio to the visual flow of England's Channel 4. This camera-angle defence now Liril-washes so much and no more. Already there is valid criticism that the STAR commentators tend to get Feviglued to the same point. There is also the viewpoint to consider that the STAR telecasters should be cricket commentators first, team pickers after.

Ravi Shastri hit the nail on the MRF boot as he told Navjot something at once pertinent and impertinent. Ravi pointed out that since a team decision had already been made on batting Sachin at No. 4 in the ODIs, there was no point in dissecting the matter time and time again on 'TV, Live TV'. Let STAR commentators add to the sum total of the visuals without appearing to want to score brownie points over each other. The viewer finds it cloying, after a while, to find the same issue being the theme of 'anticipatable' debate and predictable dissent. It soon gets to be as wearying to watch as an actress of Shobana's Shabana calibre recurringly coming to such lachrymose view through the LG Golden Eye.