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BISHAN SINGH BEDI

Mr Bedi is a former cricketer.

Sachin demonstrated he is game’s greatest

Sachin Tendulkar (AP/PTI)

he World Cup has just started to pick up pace and India's match against England gave a good glimpse of what is in store for the teams in the upcoming weeks.

Anybody who still has doubts about Sachin Tendulkar being one of the best batsmen in the world should just check out his innings against England to see how a maestro bats. Tendulkar played a brilliant innings to score 120 runs in 115 balls. Even cramps could not prevent him from playing his game. Sadly, Tendulkar's achievement was overshadowed by his team's poor bowling and fielding. The Indians struggled to defend an imposing total of 338. I wonder if they were not able to defend a huge score like that what will happen if they score around 250.  Tendulkar should have been the Man of the Match, but Andrew Strauss took away the award for his blistering 158 runs.

I have heard many people complaining that Chinnaswamy Stadium is not a bowler's paradise. But we all know that one-day cricket is all about batting. Even though the wicket had little to offer the bowlers, England's Tim Bresnan did a tremendous job of taking five wickets. He was a strong contender for the Man of the Match award. It is a big feat to take five wickets in a match where more than 650 runs are scored. Bresnan was good with his line and length and he performed well in an otherwise mediocre bowling performance.

I was very disappointed to see India losing six wickets in no time. It was frustrating to see the last five batsmen getting out for just eleven runs. The Indian batsmen should have had the discipline to stick around till the last ball and finish off the game instead of giving away their wickets that easily. India had the opportunity to score 350, and they should have, but they made a mess of it.

When I had earlier said that the Indian bowling is weak, even I did not imagine it will be so bad. India must include a fifth bowler. They have to find a bowling combination that worls. If they cannot find a combination in the next two matches against Ireland and Netherlands they will be sitting ducks when they face South Africa and West Indies. Even Chawla and Harbhajan have not created any havoc in the World Cup till now. This is because they have been ordinary at best. The key in this tournament is not to contain but take wickets.

The last game has shown that India is depending too much on Zaheer Khan. Players like Zaheer play from experience. In the Indian bowling line-up, there is no other bowler who can trouble the batsmen. The Indian selectors had no business including Ashish Nehra in the first place. Indian bowling needs youth, not players past their prime.

Another problem with the bowlers these days is that they are no longer enthusiastic about playing. If you cannot enjoy your game, then I believe it is not worth it. One thing that the game against England has highlighted is the bankruptcy of ideas, not only of captain Dhoni but also of the Indian think-tank.

There is the possibility that the Indian management will include three seamers and drop Pathan. He gets to play three overs and everyone is expecting him to score 50 runs every time. He is not doing any good to the team as a bowler and even a batsman. Knowing Dhoni's mentality, India will remain on the defensive side. The time for experimentation is long past. If they had won the match against England, they could have afforded to experiment.

India should not take Ireland too easily. They have a habit of creating upsets, ask Pakistan and England will testify. One of the finds of this tournament is Ireland's Kevin O'Brien.  I really enjoyed his innings against England. O'Brien had the presence of mind to take advantage of England's poor bowling. India should learn from such lessons. There can be no compromise. India should stamp its authority on each game.

 
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