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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All roads lead to Mohali and airspace is under surveillance - the WC Semi hype - India plays Pakistan

The security at major hotels has been tightened, and several approaches to the venue have been sealed. The venue is to have four layers of security personnel including intelligence officials, armed policemen, and elite commandos. The airspace over the venue is being be monitored; anti-aircraft guns have been put in place.
---  what is all this.  Anything to do with a Head of Country’s meet or a State dignitary arrival…
No the hype is all about the much awaited  semi-final contest in the World Cup at  Mohali. It is not cricket.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani,  are to be there watching the match.  
It is a Cricket match – an One dayer between two Countries, the result at best would only pick the Team that would play in the final at Wankhede.  To attach any other significance does not seem logical…
Here are some interesting facts on the clash, the venue and the WC.  Indians fans all around would stop all other work and pump for an Indian win.
Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Herath Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath – to even those who have been following Lankan cricket regularly, his selection was bemusing.  A left arm spinner more suited to longer format, he was a surprise selection ahead of Suraj Randiv – the offie who can stake claims to be an all rounder.   Srilanka has game plans and they seem to be working over time. 
NZ have reached Semis for the 6th time in the 10 World Cups, and they have lost at this stage in all their previous encounters.  Just as we boast of an all win [in four matches in WC] against Pak, Lankans had also played Kiwis four times and had won on all occasion.  So the result was a foregone conclusion – an ‘All Asian finals at Wankhede’. 
India and Pak both exited ignominiously in the last WC but have had contrasting runs thereafter.  The win at VB series in 2007-08 was mighty for the Indians besides the home wins against many visitors.  Pak have been dogged by player inconsistency, smug deals, bans, player running away and more, but have risen greatly under Afridi.  A loss could show the other face again and there could be some senior player revolts.   
It is only a match – an One day game but it stokes emotions and passions.  The last time when both the teams met in 2003 WC – India had a stiff target of 274 from 50 runs and the openers Sehwag and Tendulkar (the same combination) sparkled with a start.  Sachin went on to make a glorious 98 off 75 with that famous sail over point for a six. 
To all those fans, do you know or remember who ensured an Indian win when the teams met for the first time in WC 1992 at Sydney Cricket Ground ?
The famous Miandad aping Kiran More incident
In the first Semis, Lankans lost the toss and Kiwis decided to bat first.  Against England, with Strauss and Bell left combination – they opened bowling with Tilakaratne Dilshan and Strauss struggled to score.  At Khettarama stadium [yes Ranasinghe Premadasa stadium] was known by this name till 1994, the Nation was cheering for their team to win.  And as expected Kiwis were fed 34 overs of staple spin bowling. 
If that was expected in some ways, the second over being given to Herath was something that took everyone by surprise.   He was up against Brendon McCullum capable to tearing anybody.  The second ball was thumped over midwicket for a four.. he came back courageously to bowl the fourth and looped his quality spin – it was a maiden – in a power play – 4th over of the match with dangerous McCullum playing it out.  The first ball of the 6th over was sent deep into the crowds over deep square for a mighty six. But at 7.1, McCullum’s heave was deceived – Herath and Sanga had the laugh.  Kiwis folded for 217 with Malinga (3), Mendis (3), Murali (2) – Dilshan & Herath one a piece sharing the spoils.  
After the thrashing they gave to England with both Dilshan & Tharanga making centuries, this was expected to another thrashing but there were some pressure points before Lankans emerged comfortable winners losing 5 wickets.   From 1601 for 1 there was a mini collapse to 169/4 and 185/5 but Lankans prevailed.
Today’s encounter is at Punjab Cricket Association stadium at Mohali where IS Bindra ruled the roost for long.   This excellent looking stadium was a swamp in 1992 but now is lush green, with excellent practice facilities, spectator friendly outlook – spoiled by the visit of politicians and the usual mismanagement of sale of tickets.   This was inaugurated during 1993 when India played SA in Hero cup.  Mohali is known for its lively pitch and seamer friendly conditions.    Mohali is located in the outskirts of Chandigarh.  Had written the history of Mohali in one of my recent posts.  In 1996 WC, it was the venue for the thrilling semi final clash where Aussies beat WI.    The first test was played in Dec 1994 when Walsh and Kenny Benjamin sliced through the famed Indian batting line up.  

The flood lights here  are unconventional compared to other cricket stadiums, in that the light pillars are very low in height.  When most other stadiums have 4 towers, Mohali has 16 smaller flood light towers.  This is because it is close to Indian Air Force base – should we really have a stadium if that poses a hazard that was tried to be answered ??
The current curator is  Daljit Singh, a wicket keeper who played for Delhi and Services.  To prevent spectators from running on to the field, a common trouble in Indian grounds – some places employ extra cops, some have nets, Mohali has a man made lake. 
Dhoni inspecting pitch with Daljit
Now coming back to the Indian first match and first win in WC – it was in 1992 in a format that was a league when all played all in qualifying round.  India had a very dismal outing managing only two wins with the match against Lanka getting washed out.  There were innovations of coloured clothing with names on back, flood lights, white  ball, fielding circle rules redefined (Botham, Greatbatch and even Kapil opened).  It also saw the ludicrous rain rule. 
In ODI No. 729 played at SCG on 4th Mar 1992, India opened with Ajay Jadeja and Krish Srikkanth.  The young Sachin made a flamboyant 54 off 62 balls  and India mustered 216 for 7 in 49 overs.  Pak bowling attack was headed by Wasim Akram with Imran, Aaqib Javed, Mustaq Ahmed and Wasim Haider.  Pakistanis were all out for 173 with Kapil, Manoj Prabhakar, Srinath all taking 2.  Sachin chipped with 1 giving 37 in his full 10 overs and was the Man of the match. 
With regards – S. Sampathkumar    

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