ICC World Cup 2011 March 31, 2011

An innings of substance, not style

Sachin Tendulkar may have led a charmed life in the key innings he played for India that helped them beat Pakistan in the World Cup semi-final in Mohali writes Andy Bull in the Guardian

Sachin Tendulkar may have led a charmed life in the key innings he played for India that helped them beat Pakistan in the World Cup semi-final in Mohali writes Andy Bull in the Guardian. He has scored two of the sweetest centuries this World Cup has seen - against England and South Africa - and though the 85 against Pakistan lacked style, it had substance.

Each and every one of those 85 runs was a rebuttal to those who say he cannot do it when it really counts. Now he will have to do it again, in a World Cup final, in front of his home crowd in Mumbai. He needs one more century to become the first man to have scored 100 hundreds in international cricket. Do not even dare to dream it.

Suresh Menon in the Daily News and Analysis looks at Tendulkar's chancy innings and writes that even those praying for his 100th century, his greatest fans, might be forgiven for wishing the landmark wouldn’t come here.

And yet, he nearly made a century and that was remarkable. A professional, we are told, is someone who does a job even when he doesn’t feel like it, and Tendulkar’s ability to carry on regardless said something about the kind of person he is.

Suresh Raina made an unbeaten 36 against Pakistan and Simon Hughes in The Telegraph writes that while on a scoreboard an innings of 36 not out looks unremarkable, down the order such an innings which converts a chaseable score to one that is genuinely challenging, is invaluable.

He has a full range of shots, including an extraordinary ability to carve straight balls over cover for six. Belatedly India have recognised his value. When the final against Sri Lanka foes to the wire, as it surely will, it might just be Raina who has the class, the culture and the karma to see India home.

Security was on an all-time high in Mohali for the semi-final clash and according to Stephen Brenkley in the Independent, despite all the three-fold checking by the security personnel and the huge crowds - ticket and non-ticket holders - who had gathered as early as four hours before the start of the match, the atmosphere was electrifying.

The show, when it got underway at last, was Sachin's. For a man in whom millions have unfettered faith, he invited disbelief. He played as a man with feet of clay. It was as if the event had overwhelmed him. But the gods obviously look after their own and he was dropped four times. It really was unbelievable. The only surprise – the gods teasing us perhaps – was that Tendulkar was out 15 short of what would have been his 100th international hundred.

Brian Moore in the The Telegraph writes that India-Pakistan semi-final demonstrated the unique pressures that come with a high-voltage semi-final.

An editorial in the Indian Express states that amid all the hype and hysteria surrounding the India-Pakistan semi-final, this World Cup has also highlighted how stacked the odds are against anyone wanting to go to any exertions to get in as a buying spectator.

For instance, when World Cup tickets first went on sale, just about 4,000 were available for the final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. The Maharashtra Cricket Association pleaded helplessness, saying the majority of seats had to be allocated to the ICC and affiliated clubs. The story is true at other stadia. And this is why getting a ticket so often becomes a factor of one’s capacity to pay (to buy it off a ticket-holder) or, more likely, one’s connections to wrangle a pass.

An editorial in the News praises the Pakistan team for having fought hard to reach the semis of the World Cup and states that while there could be many reasons and many scapegoats for Pakistan's loss, it must be said that the Pakistani boys did a much better job in the World Cup than was being expected before the matches began.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo