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Friday, January 21, 2011

English World Cup for Sachin in 1999

The Indian team went to the 1999 World Cup in England in a positive frame of mind. 16 years after the World Cup win under Kapil Dev, one thought that the same location will inspire the Indians to give their best and bring back the Cup. Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly at the top were giving Sachin Tendulkar enough reasons to think that this would be the year the Indian team will click - look at the partnerships that were forged by the trio during 1999.

But, Sachin would have never dreamt of what happened during the initial stages of the tournament. His father, whom he has admired all his life and still does so, passed away in Mumbai. Tendulkar has credited his father for all the good he has acquired in his life and this loss was shattering.

Anil Kumble couldnt get the same returns as he found in the 1996 World Cup while Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad could not be consistent enough in all the matches. The loss against Zimbabwe would upset the team's morale before the Super Sixes stage where they would further lose to Australia and New Zealand.

Moments to remember from an Indian perspective

  • The inexplicable batting by Sourav Ganguly in the first match against South Africa. Though he had made a decent score, he did not kick on to score more aggressively at the end of the innings in pursuit of his individual century. He failed to do both - get his century as well as getting a winning score. Only 5 wickets were lost by the Indians but the score of 253 was overtaken by the Proteas with 16 balls to spare.
  • The fall against Zimbabwe - Sachin had to make a dash to India to attend to the final rites of his dad. In his absence, the Indians lost in a collapse against the determined bowling of the minnow nations. This would be one of the worst defeats for an Indian team in the World Cup until 2007. The match was also critical as it cost the Indian team two points for the next stage.
  • Sachin back against Kenya - After completing the rituals, Tendulkar played the next match against Kenya - what an emotional moment it was, when the Master scored his century in the company of Rahul Dravid. Though the opposition was not strong, it showed the true character of the champion.
  • Carnage against Sri Lanka - The match against Sri Lanka in Taunton witnessed one of the cleanest six-hitting by an Indian - Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid blasted the lankan attack on a relatively smaller ground to post a total of 373. All the bowlers, including Mutthiah Muralitharan, were mauled badly.
  • Win against Pakistan - India kept up the traidition of defeating their arch-rivals in the World Cup by defeating them by 47 runs. Dravid and Venkatesh Prasad were the stars of the match, taking the initiative away from the Pakistan team.

Sachin was determined to continue playing the World Cup despite his personal loss but a lean patch from him after the Kenya match contributed in its own way to the decline of the Indian performance in the Super Sixes. They joined Zimbabwe as the other team to be knocked out of the Super Sixes stage. Yet another disastrous performance by the Indian team at the World Cup, providing very few moments of delight for Indian fans.

It would be the last World Cups for players like Ajay Jadeja, Mohammed Azharuddin, Nayan Mongia, Robin Singh. Jadeja played well to support the trio of Sourav, Sachin and Rahul but could not make the difference good enough to make the semi-finals. He was also involved in match-fixing charges but later was cleared of any wrong-doings and is now a television analyst.

Azharuddin has won the local elections and become the Member of Indian Parliament, again after clearing himself of fixing claims. Robin Singh picked up a five-wicket haul against Sri Lanka in the league stage and played for some more time before the selectors started thinking he was old to be in the playing eleven (even though he was among the fittest in the entire country). He became the fielding coach for the Indian national team before getting associated with IPL as a coach.

Nayan Mongia retired in 2004 after being dropped from the team after dissent and allegations of match-fixing. Incredible to see three players in this team accused of match-fixing!! Debashis Mohanty and Sadagopan Ramesh also played their only World Cup with few good performances in this Cup.

Next is 2003 World Cup in South Africa

Sachin vs Kenya

Ganguly & Dravid against SL

India vs Pakistan in 1999 World Cup

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