CRICKET has a habit of making fools of us. It is a great leveller as we have seen when a batsman who scores a century gets out for a zero the next time he goes to bat or a bowler who takes heaps of wickets getting none the next innings or the best fielder in the side dropping a simple catch.
There is simply no such thing as perfection in cricket though there are many players like Tendulkar who come very very close to it. It was he again who made the victory possible when India was chasing a massive Australian total of 272.
It was marginally less than the score that the Australians had put up just a couple of days earlier but with the presence and expectations of a huge crowd it would have looked insurmountable if India had not got off to the start they did.
It was a brave decision to ask Australia to bat first but the Indians had done their homework well for they realised that chasing a score would be easier than defending a score. They had seen over the last few weeks that their strength was batting and not bowling and so they put their faith in the batsmen chasing a big score than their bowlers defending it.
They also had the previous tournament in Bangladesh in mind where too they chased a mammoth Pakistan score and that too in poor light to win the tournament. Confidence begets confidence and that victory has made the Indian team believe in itself and look any target confidently in the eye.
The fall of three Australian wickets when only 26 were on board would have made the Indians feel that they could keep the Australian score down to less than 250 but a captain's innings by Steve Waugh and a battling innings by Lehmann after a consolidating innings by Gilchrist and Bevan, propelled them past 250 and they ended up with a score of 272 which would have made many teams lose the match in their minds.
The Australians knew that there was only one batsman who could come between them and another limited overs trophy and that man was Tendulkar.
One runs out of superlatives when writing about the little champion and one has to try and find new ways to describe his batting. But it would perhaps be appropriate to borrow a line from an advertising company in New Delhi who coined the slogan to the mothers of the Australian bowlers, `Ma bolti hai ki, bete bhag ja Tendulkar batting ko aaya hai.'
The classic Gabbar Singh line from the film Sholay fits Tendulkar like a glove for he is terrorising the bowlers of the world with his awesome batting. Even he would agree though, that, but for the support he received from Ganguly, Mongia and especially captain Mohd. Azharuddin, he would not have been able to commit the mayhem he did with the bat.
It was wonderful to see India win in Sharjah after a long time and they did it in style making the Indian fans in Sharjah happy after a long and very patient wait. The crowds here have been terrific and they have had some brilliant cricket from the teams. Sharjah has once again proved it is a fantastic venue to play cricket in. Not only will the beneficiaries agree but even those who have played in this tournament will agree that there is something special about Sharjah!