Gen-Next ready to step in

Updated: 04 March 2008 08:07 IST

It could not have been a sweeter Sunday for Indian cricket.

Gen-Next ready to step in

Sydney/Kuala Lumpur:

It could not have been a sweeter Sunday for Indian cricket.

In Sydney Sachin Tendulkar inspired India to a crushing six-wicket win against Australia in the first of the three-match finals in the Commonwealth Bank tri-series.

And almost midway between New Delhi and Sydney, the juniors added to the celebrations in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur by elbowing South Africa out by 12 runs in a rain-hit final to lift the Under-19 World Cup at Kinrara Oval.

Sachin Tendulkar, under fire from many quarters for his inability to shore up a team that needed him so badly, fired when it mattered most. And what's more, his century inspired the young Rohit Sharma to contribute a fine 66.

Doubtless the colts in Kuala Lumpur would have been following the fortunes of their seniors and their win in difficult circumstances would have inspired the juniors to script their own lines in the Under-19 finals.

It may yet be too early to say that Gen-Next is ready to step in, but a title-win does augur well for Indian cricket, which despite the Twenty20 World Cup has been struggling of late.

Tendulkar (117) slammed his first ODI century in Australia - and the 42nd in his illustrious career - to propel India to their first-ever win at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It also raised visions of a first-ever win for India in a tri-series over Australia.

Set a target of 240 by Australia, India as usual were on the back-foot losing three for 87 in under 20 overs. Tendulkar stood among the ruins, but in Rohit Sharma (66) he found a willing pupil and together the blend of today and tomorrow flourished like never before. They added 123 crucial runs, which set the stage for a dramatic win that gave India a 1-0 lead in the three-match finals.

When the end came, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team of youth and experience, had more than four overs, six wickets and a lot of energy to spare in a win that in the final analysis looked comfortable.

Three hours later, and many thousand miles closer home, in Kuala Lumpur, a bunch of future stars led by Virat Kohli were battling South Africa in the Under-19 World Cup final.

Surely, many in the Indian senior team in Sydney would have had ears tuned to the happenings in Kuala Lumpur.

Among them must have been Rohit Sharma, a member of the Indian junior team, when it lost the Under-19 final to Pakistan two years ago. Sweet revenge it must have been for him on a day when he himself played a winning role for the seniors against Australia in Sydney.

The Kuala Lumpur win also revived many other memories - the 1983 World Cup, the 2000 Under-19 World Cup, and the Twenty20 triumph only last year.

In 2000, India's young stars were Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh. The latter has now grown into one of the pillars of India's senior one-day side. And Dhoni has carried his Twenty20 success into one-day cricket, too.

Back to Kuala Lumpur Sunday, South Africa kept India under a tight leash and bowled them out for just 159. Tanmay Srivastav (46) was the main contributor, as has often been in this tournament.

Then, faced with very few runs to defend, the bowlers rose to the occasion.

India's new ball duo of Ajitesh Argal (2/7) and Pradeep Sangwan, despite being wicketless, bowled with fire and gave India the early edge as South Africa were reduced to three for 11 and then when the rains came down South Africa were 17 for three in 8.4 overs.

By the time the skies cleared for play to resume, the Duckworth-Lewis rule had come into play and re-set the target to 116 in 25 over. Needing 99 more in 16.2 overs, South Africa managed only 103 for eight when the curtain came down.

India emerged victors by 12 runs and a new generation of champions was born.

Soon it was time for Indians to celebrate from New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur to Sydney.



Topics : Cricket
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