First hockey and then cricket all the way

March 3rd, 2008 - 12:19 am ICT by admin  

(Overall Round-up)

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) A great day, indeed, for Indian sport. Rarely has it been so exciting for the channel surfers who kept switching from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur and back to kept track of the fortunes of India and Indian colts. First, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s young team won the first match in Commonwealth Bank series finals against Australia handsomely by six wickets and a few hours later their Virat Kohli’s colts won the under-19 World Cup beating South Africa in a tense rain-truncated game.

Lest one forgets, it all began in the wee hours of the Super Sunday as the Indian hockey team toyed with Russia 8-0 in the opening match of the Olympic Games qualifier in Santiago, Chile.

In Sydney, the Indians chased down a 240-run target thanks to Sachin Tendulkar’s unbeaten century, his first in the One Day Internationals on the Australian soil. The master has also answered the critics who kept reminding him that his contributions in India’s victories have been few and far between, particularly when chasing.

The Indians had at the back of their minds that they had never won an ODI in Sydney and Tendulkar’s CV did not have hundred there. Importantly, his knock carried India to victory. Both came in an authoritative manner, with 20-year-old Rohit Sharma coming of age with a splendid knock in a century stand with the great man.

The 1-0 lead in the finals has also shown skipper Dhoni as a thinking and intuitive captain. His decision to play leg-spinner Piyush Chawla instead of Virender Sehwag in place of Munaf Patel came good.

Once Tendulkar and Robin Uthappa put on the best opening stand of the series, the Australians were on the backfoot. But the needless run out of the in-form Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh’s wobbly batting gave the visitors jitters. It was left to a carefully planned Tendulkar’s century and his excellent nursing of Rohit saw them through with plenty to spare.

Rohit has shown that he is a class act and needs to be allowed to blossom. More than once in the series he has shown both temperament and the ability to produce big strokes to unsettle the attack and the field. He could not have asked for a better man than Tendulkar to share the match-winning partnership.

In the first session after Ricky Ponting decided to bat, the bowlers continued their good work and but for a century stand between Queenslanders Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds gave the Australians a par score for the Sydney cricket Ground to defend. Harbhajan was immensely happy not because he had a fine spell but he dismissed both Hayden and Symonds. If only he had avoided performing a monkey act in the outfield!

The colts won a match which appeared to have slipped out of their grasp when they were dismissed for 159 after being put in. Only Tanmay Srivastava batted with any confidence.

The Indian bowlers, however, rocked South Africa’s top order and then a downpour restricted the game to 25 overs. That left the South Africans to get 99 runs off 98 balls and as the Indians held their nerve, the South African panicked.

The Indians, who had easily defeated the South African in their pool game, showed enough courage in defending a small total.

In hockey, the Indians left nothing to chance as they overran the Russians with most of the goal-poachers having a hand in scoring. The Indians, who are invariably slow starters, for once, played attacking hockey and seldom allowed the Russians to come anywhere near their goal.

Indian sports fan couldn’t have asked for more on a relaxed Sunday.

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