`The Lost World'

GOING by `The Lost World' syndrome, how the Dinosaur That is Australia clipped the wings of The Pterodactyl That Is India!

BHARATAN

GOING by `The Lost World' syndrome, how the Dinosaur That is Australia clipped the wings of The Pterodactyl That Is India! A little bird called Ma Rithambara whispered into the diaphanous Mandira's ears that the World Cup was going to be Australia's for keeps. The way Glam-Puss Mandira's feline face fell upon hearing this will remain a moment etched in telly memory. `Feeling defeated' Indian viewers (a startling 46% of them women, going by the Bedi Bombshell's `Outlook' Cover Girl rating) ultimately descended upon Mandira — as the one to pull out the wrong Ma Rithambara cards! Fatalist commentary enough on how we Indians, as a non-Zulu tribe, depended upon `Tirupatit Paawan' to do it for us. Through the Super Sixes and the Semis alike, All India had hugged the delusion of Mandira being the `talisman' woman destined to anchor Sourav's India into lifting the World Cup.

"India can win the World Cup but won't!" prophesied Geoffrey Boycott even before the tournament got going. — Pic. RAMESH SHARMA-

Jason Dasey on STAR `Sportsline', by stark contrast, got it right from the outset when he had Geoffrey Boycott prophesying: "India can win the World Cup but won't!'' Boycs had predicted (during the Tuesday, June 4, 1999 Super Six World Cup encounter at The Oval) that he could "not see India making it'' where it came to going past that 282 raised by Steve's Australia. Now Boycs was again predictably on the (234) ball.

For all that, STAR-gazer Boycs aptly put Mark Nicholas in his Sony place when that smooth talking `hindsighter' insisted that Sourav's decision to ask Australia to bat first was the drop-point at which India got tossed out.

That India's Celeb 2003 Pace Trio so signally failed Sourav in the opening hour that mattered was something that troubled the conscience of Sachin too. As, crestfallen, Ten accepted that ritzy `Man Of The Tournament' award. As he did so, Ten seized the opportunity (that Sourav had becomingly forgone) to pinpoint the inept inability of our Pace Trinity "to put the ball there''. It is easy to zero in on the Javagalling Srinath as the seasoned culprit (10-0-87-0) blunt-spearheading the toss-negating threesome going for some. Except that I see no one personally regretting it more than Srinath, who could even re-announce his retirement from the game by way of Souravaged expiation.

As Sri was struggling with his line and length last year, I recall India's Javagalley Slave noting: "Everyone asks me to put the ball `up there'. That's exactly what I'm trying to do. But it's not happening!'' It began to happen with New Zealand. It happened right up to the World Cup Semis. That it didn't happen in the March 23 Aussie Decider is the tragedy of India's odyssey into the Wanderers final. Thank you, Sachin, for sparing us the cliche about that award meaning nothing to you when Team India had lost.

To you, Sachin (4), as the Bombay Boy, a nation (in viewing mourning) was in no mood to sing: "Bombaiyo, Bom Bom Bom Baiyo!'' The one `extra innings' India needed from its Ten Titan, in the final, had not MRFised.

But then hadn't the whole nation gone berserk when Ten so breathtakingly lifted a similar rising ball from Andrew Caddick for a rousing midwicket six? That Ten failed to bring it off in the case of the Glenn McGrath ball, one Final time, is a failing that will cling to Sachin alongside that pyrrhic award.

No allowance by the audience, here, that Ten had held the Indian batting together right through the World Cup Tournament! No allowance by the viewing billions for the fact that Sri, Zed and Ash had bowled so penetratively (as the triumphant triumvirate) to put India in the Kapil Devil dream final.

Final impressions count, so that Sri, Zed, Ash and Ten must carry the `Do The Dew' can for failing to pull The Cup out of the Kangaroo's throat. By the same grand-finale token, Veeru's 82 (off 81 balls: 3 sixes, 10 fours) almost atoned for his chunky fall from World Cup grace, interrupted only by that striking 66 against Sri Lanka. India illusorily looked like working a Duckworth & Lewis miracle as viewers took the captive opportunity to climb on to the Sehwagon! The meaty relish with which Veeru waded into the Kangaroos, there was a special flavour to `Sehwag Ki maa ke haath ka khana'! For all that, we are left with the stunting, stunning memory of being so near the World Cup and yet so far.

Now there can be so much Pepsignificance, and no more, to Rahul-Sourav chivvying Bajji: "Superb shot, mere Sher-e-Punjab — jaa, ball leke aa!''

If the MaveRicky Ponting, having pulled away The Prize from India with that sceptre-in-hand 140 (121 balls: 8 sixes, 4 fours), were to say, "The problem with you Injuns is that you prayed rather than played to win the World Cup,'' we would have to accept it as our rishi-muni destiny.

Our `Shah Rukhsat' punchline: "Humein World Cup ki kya ichchha ho saktee hai — sub Moh Maya hai!'' A conclusion fortified by Navjot's STAR clincher: "So what if we lost to Australia, it was nothing less than the World Cup we won when India crushed Pakistan!'' Pakistan now adore Australia.

While India stay stuck with the Sydney materialising Mandira in `Kyunkii... Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thii...' The nation is back to its pet Tulsi-Parvati pastime of rivetingly watching teleserial after teleserial. It's a Small Screen world! A Small Screen that still yields us endless make-believe. If no World Cup. `Yeh Duniya yeh mehfil mere kaam kii naheen'! That's Entertainment! As Rahul — `Stumped' feels Raveena — about having delayed releasing her film till The World Cup That Never Was.