Creditable second place

Sir, — The loss to Australia in the final of the World Cup in South Africa should not take away the credit that our boys deserve for some great cricket they played throughout the tournament. Remaining unbeaten, despite being close to defeat at least in three matches, mighty Australia deservedly won the Cup. What was significant about the win was that the team was without the Waugh twins and Shane Warne besides, for a major part, Jason Gillespie. The tournament will also be remembered, sadly though, for the controversies involving the refusal of some teams to play their matches at some venues and the Warne doping incident.

For India, which played like a team hungry for success, particularly after the public outcry over their initial approach, the one major gain was the coming of age of our pace bowlers. Srinath, Zaheer and Nehra bowled exceptionally well and it was fitting that each had won a `Man of the Match' award in the tournament. Besides each took more than 15 wickets. What Indian fans will love to remember is the huddle that the players went into at the fall of a wicket, Sachin Tendulkar's impressive run tally, Sourav Ganguly's three tons and, not to forget, the victory over archrival, Pakistan. India lost the final but cricket fans will take heart from the fact that the loss was against the best team.

Aziz K. Bokdawalla, Ahmedabad Have a heart for Ganguly

Sir, — It is true that India did not live up to expectations by losing the World Cup final but for the overall gutsy show, the team deserves accolades. Under the stewardship of Sourav Ganguly, the team is evolving into a fine unit. Unlike the American society, we Indians seldom give recognition to leadership qualities. Instead of appreciating a leader for his 70 per cent correct decisions, critics are always busy taking pot shots at his 30 per cent wrong decisions. The Indian masses are fed with all the information about the bickerings between the skipper and the star player in the team. It was the same with Kapil Dev-Sunil Gavaskar and Azharuddin-Sachin Tendulkar. When Azharuddin fell from grace, the target shifted to Ganguly-Tendulkar. Where Ganguly has proved different though is in his handling of the players, like Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia and Ashish Nehra. Look at the way he supported Mohd. Kaif. Javagal Srinath came out of retirement because of Ganguly. All this talk of Ganguly having committed a blunder after winning the toss does not make sense. Ganguly needed to take a strategic decision and he did that. Such decisions sometimes succeed and sometimes backfire.

Prof. Ashok R. Mundhada, Amravati World Cup lessons

Sir, — Australia thoroughly deserved to win the World Cup for producing near flawless cricket right through the tournament. Despite the absence of Shane Warne, Gillespie and the non-selection of the Waugh twins, the team showed that everyone could deliver the goods when demanded. India, having been bowled out by minnows Netherlands for a paltry score and then suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Australia clawed back remarkably, thanks to Sachin Tendulkar's outstanding performance and the depth in batting in general. To that extent, India deserved to be in the final. Had we batted first perhaps we would have been in for another humiliation considering the strength of Aussies' bowling attack. Surely the World Cup has thrown a few lessons for India, in particular that Rahul Dravid should not be pressured to keep wickets. A specialist wicket-keeper would make our batting strength one man short and so we must look for a good bowler-allrounder talent.

V.S. Gopalarathnam, Chennai Not flawless

Sir, — The all-win triumph in 2003 World Cup cricket has prompted many pundits to believe that this Australian outfit is a flawless one. However a closer analysis would reveal several chinks in the Australian batting armoury, as evident in its matches against England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Honestly, England gifted away the match after reducing the Aussies to 135 for eight and still 70 runs short of win. New Zealand's Shane Bond single-handedly scythed through Australia's mighty batting, leaving Ricky Ponting's men gasping for breath at 84 for seven. It was sheer carelessness on New Zealand's part more than Michael Bevan's stellar effort, which helped Australia through. Then in the semi-final, Australia crumbled for 212 against an average Sri Lankan attack. A champion team whose batting had looked vulnerable at least thrice in one tournament! Even against Kenya, Australia had struggled at 117 for five. Australia surely has the best bowling attack but where it outsmarts its opponents is in its self-belief.

Arnab Kumar De, Kolkata A costly mistake

Sir, — The goddess of luck blessed the Indian captain Sourav Ganguly in winning the toss! Instead of grabbing the opportunity with both hands, he blundered by opting to field when batting is our strength. It was a mistake that cost us the Cup.

SP. VR. Subbhaiah, Coimbatore Good coverage

Sir, — The coverage of the World Cup in your issue, dated March 22 was really good, especially the photographs, which were excellent. Thank you for stopping the infographics which seemed to be redundant. I request you to please publish a World Cup action photofeature and a Sachin Tendulkar action poster.

Sooraj, Thrissur