Twenty years later today. 23/03/2003. The Indian team is competing in the World Cup final at the Jonasberg Wanderers Stadium. Led by Ganguly, the Blue Tigers descend to wrest the crown and scepter from the hands of world champions Aussies. But team India returned defeated without getting anything. I think you will agree if I say that the pain is still there to this day.
The match that every Indian cricket lover has been looking forward to. Against the undefeated Aussies. Aussies have the upper hand. The only hope in India was an unprecedented Indian comeback. That is, Team India was all out against Holland for just 204 runs in the first group match. In the second group match, Aussies bowled out India for 125 runs and won easily. After that there were protests in the country. There is a fear that if it goes like this, it will not pass Super 6.
Finally Sachin had to appeal to the people of India through the media. And so the protests began to subside. In the next match, they beat Zimbabwe, then Namibia, then England by a landslide, and finally Sachin stormed Pakistan. In Super 6 with 20 points. It didn’t end there either. Dada won with a captain’s innings when they stumbled against Kenya, then beat Lanka and swept the Kiwis to reach the semi-finals. Being Kenya in the semis, it didn’t seem like much of a challenge, but they won. So India in the World Cup final.
A return like this gave hope to the Indian fans that day. Dreams of beating Aussies and winning that gold crown. After winning the toss and choosing to bat, set a good score and bowl the opponents to win. This is probably what 99% of people want. And prayed to get the toss. So India got the toss. But Dada chose bowling.
The reason for that is some spots seen on the pitch.
But I would say that India lost that final there. Because playing against Aussies. If you let them bat first, they will burn. Perhaps a coslty over is enough to take the game. In the same way, Zahir Khan gave away 15 runs in the first over. After that Hayten and Gili’s gang. Finally a wicket fell after crossing 100 in 13 overs. It felt like the current typical t20 score in that ODI.
Later Ponting and Martin’s killing spree. Oasis 359/2.
360 target for India. McGrath, Lee, and Bickel are the first to face. what to say It can be seen that Sachin tried to play a pull shot against McGrath in the very first over and was out. If 360 is a tough target even today in favor of batting, let’s talk about twenty years ago??!
Anyway, Sehwag gave it a try. In between, when it rained, for a moment it felt as if the laddu broke in my mind. First, the game started with the Duckworth-Lewis rule and if the game was stopped, the par score was 13 runs in eight balls for India. It is not an issue now with Sehwag. The second thing is that if the rain does not stop, the next day the game will be played again from the beginning. There is reason to hope. After Lanka had set a target of 240 against India on the first day of the Champions Trophy final held months earlier, rain interrupted the game.
As the next day was a reserve day, the match started all over again and Lanka could only manage 222. (Jayasurya, who hit 50 in the first day’s final, was bowled on the very first ball in the reserve day’s final). However, nothing went as planned. Aussies won the cup by 125 runs. Many must have cried like me that day. I’m sure the 80s kids will surely cry.
The Aussies were strong. But the toss was in favor of Oasi. If India were batting first, Sachin in top form could have taken the innings forward without playing risky shots and set a target of 270+. Harbhajan, Sehwag and Dinesh Monga could have been used to trap Aussies in spin who had to bat second. It doesn’t matter. Lots of memories.
In any case, India got the tag of ‘men in blue’ with that tournament.
That’s when it was realized that the person who gave Sachin Man of the Series was Garfield Sobers who was a cricket legend and he was a player of Sachin’s level. And a bike ad of Bajaj Motor (Hootibaba, Hootibaba hoo..) became a hit in that World Cup.
Credit: Malayali Cricket Zone