Taking trauma in his stride

Though the loss of his father would have been weighing heavily on his mind,Sachin Tendulkar got down to business with a fine hundred against Kenya.-V.V.KRISHNAN

Sachin Tendulkar suffered the saddest moment of his life when he lost his father and had to return to India for the funeral. In his absence, India went through the ignominy of losing to Zimbabwe, but the little master returned in time to open the innings against Kenya in Bristol. The dressing room felt for him when he padded up and walked out to do what he knew best — bat for India. And bat he did with the elegance and consistency that marked his cricket. He applied himself to the job and produced a century that stood out for discipline. He set aside his personal grief and served the team. And his unbeaten 140 took India to a thumping victory.

McGrath magic!

Glenn McGrath was rated the most accurate of the fast bowlers of his era. The confidence that he brought to his job gave Australia the early advantage in many key contests. The gangling fast bowler would make dents in the top order and could also bowl tight in the middle and end overs. In Manchester, Australia faced the task of beating the West Indies after having lost the previous two matches to New Zealand and Pakistan. McGrath struck in the fifth over of the innings removing Sherwin Campbell and Jimmy Adams off successive balls and then packing off Brian Lara. At 20 for three, West Indies was in a poor state and never recovered as McGrath finished with five for 14.

Splendid partnership

One of the finest batting displays happened at the scenic county ground of Taunton when Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid tore into the Sri Lankan attack to raise a second wicket partnership of 318 runs. It was entertainment all the way. Ganguly slammed 183 and Dravid 145 as Arjuna Ranatunga, the captain of the 1996 Cup-winning team, stood helplessly, unable to prevent the destruction of his attack. Dravid’s imperious knock stood out for the manner in which he scored his first 50 runs, off 43 balls, which contained 10 fours. Dravid’s strokemaking abilities were in full view, much to the delight of his team.

Status quo

India had a record to maintain — of never having lost to Pakistan in a World Cup match. The two nations played for the first time in a World Cup in 1992 and India won the tie. But Pakistan went on to claim the Cup under Imran Khan. In 1996, Navjot Sidhu and Ajay Jadeja batted the Pakistan team out of the match and then Venkatesh Prasad struck to remove Aamer Sohail at a crucial stage.

When the teams met in Manchester in 1999, there was enormous pressure on the Indians. And Old Trafford, filled with ex-pats, resembled any ground in India or Pakistan. In demanding conditions, Prasad produced a crafty spell of five for 27 to restrict Pakistan to 180 after India had managed only a modest 227.

Wizardly

Shane Warne produced two lethal spells that put him in the category of all-time greats. He spun Australia back into the reckoning in the semifinal against South Africa when he accounted for the dangerous Jacques Kallis with the penultimate ball of his quota. It was his fourth wicket and triggered a South African collapse. And then he dominated the final against Pakistan with another four-wicket haul that included Ijaz Ahmed, Moin Khan, Shahid Afridi and Wasim Akram. He was man of the match in both the encounters and left his stamp of greatness in what was to be his last World Cup. The self-belief that Warne showed against South Africa and Pakistan was the decisive factor in Australia winning its second World Cup.

Vijay Lokapally