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   A comforting thought is that all is not lost... (February 28, 1996)

A comforting thought is that all is not lost and both Australia and India will qualify for the quarter finals. We have to thank the presence of Kenya and Zimbabwe for that.

These are only preliminary rounds, designed to give cricket to more centres than it would have been possible if it were a straight knock-out tournament. So nothing is gained and very little is lost.

However, yesterday's match indicated one thing: Australia is not unbeatable and Shane Warne unplayable. And the number of run-outs indicates that Australia can panic under pressure. An early wicket tot he opening bowlers and a Kumble more zeroed on the target could dismiss Australia for half its yesterday's score.

It has also established Sanjay Manjrekar's place in the team. And if Sidhu gets in again, as he should, the man sitting it our will be Kambli. Which is a pity, because Vinod Kambli is the kind of cricketer you have to preserver with. And you either use Manoj Prabhakar, sending him opening and giving him his full quota of overs, or forget him.

I also feel we are being more than a little unfair to Azharuddin. He has evolued into an attacking captain, he seems to have confidence of his team, and he is a better captain than the captains of 80 per cent of the other teams now playing in the country, including Atherton and Richardson, and, for all I know, Wasim Akram.

To continue with the tournament, the next test for India will be Sri Lanka, and that will be a difficult hurdle to cross. The Lankans have got a couple of large, portly and hairy batsmen, with long rolling names, who can scientifically slog a match out of any team's hands. I have sometimes felt that if this is cricket's greatest year, if this is cricket's greatest year, it could also be Sri Lankas's.

This is also the time for the brains in all the teamto figure out where their teams should finish in the league tables. For the position which they occupy in the league tables will determine which teams they will be playing in the quarter finals, and on which grounds and which countries they would play them. For instance, India should get a fixture in India and preferably against New Zealand. Most teams would like that.

And so we come to Lara vs. Tendulkar. As of the moment, Lara has the scores and there is no comparison betweent them. However, for the future, Tendulkar seems to have the luck and the enthusiasm for the game. He also seems to be the better team, man, though here I may be wrong.

Finally, I would like somebody to work out how best to make maximum use of the magnificent lights that Wankhede Stadium has acquired. My suggestion is the promotions of a local club tournament, with a lot of public participation and betting facilities available in the stadium.

 
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