India at the 2003 World Cup

Like in the previous World Cup, India were beginning their 2003 Cricket World Cup Campaign on a string of poor performances. The World Cup consisted of a similar format to the previous world cup. The Indian team was somewhat stronger than the team representing them in the 1999 World Cup, but still contained the batting trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, now accompanied by rising talents Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif and Virender Sehwag. India were placed in Group A, accompanied by Holland, Australia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, England and rivals Pakistan. The Top 3 in the pool would advance to the Super Six section of the tournament.

India had a horrid beginning to the tournament, their first match was against minnows Holland, who tumbled the Indian batsmen out for just 204 (all out, 48.5 overs, 206 minutes), with only Sachin Tendulkar (52 from 72 balls, 7 fours) putting up resistance, although Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble reverted the damage with 4 wickets each and India ended up winning by 68 runs, the unconvincing victory setting the stage for immense criticism.

The next match on India's list was against world champions Australia. The Indian team, batting first, was steadily making progress at 1/41 when disaster struck, Virender Sehwag's wicket triggered a middle order collapse that left India struggling at 5/50 having lost 4 wickets for 9 runs. Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh offered some resistance but the damage was done as India were out for 125 (all out, 41.4 overs, 176 minutes). Australia scored the target in 22.2 overs, only losing one wicket.

The Indian performances in the first two matches triggered uproar within India, player effigies were said to be burnt on streets and the Board of Control for Cricket in India was under immense pressure to reshuffle the team at the end of the World Cup. This reaction at home may have triggered the Indian performances in the remainder of the World Cup.

India moved onto their third match (against Zimbabwe), lacking confidence. Sachin Tendulkar (81 from 91 balls, 10 fours) took India to 255 (7 wickets, 50 overs) and 3 wickets from Sourav Ganguly set the stage for a strong 83 run win by the Indians.

This was followed by a 181 run thrashing handed out to minnows Namibia. Sachin Tendulkar (152 from 151 balls, 18 fours) scored a century and Sourav Ganguly (112 from 119 balls, 6 fours, 4 sixes)* another century in a second-wicket partnership of 244 runs in 39.5 overs to take India to 311 (2 wickets, 50 overs, 207 minutes). Namibia were then all out for 130 (all out, 42.3 overs, 163 minutes) thanks to 4 wickets from part-timer Yuvraj Singh. The man of the match was Sachin Tendulkar in both matches.

India finished off the Pool Stage with an 82 run victory over England and a 6 wicket victory over Pakistan. Ashish Nehra achieved 6/23 against England to help India defend 250 as England were all out for 168. The Indian batting was bolstered by 50s from Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh.

The match against Pakistan was considered one in which Sachin Tendulkar offered his best. Chasing 274, Tendulkar (98 from 75 balls, 12 fours, 1 six) pulled off a near century to guide India to an unlikely victory. Tendulkar was once again awarded Man of the Match.

India were untroubled in the Super Six stage and continued their streak of strong performances with three wins out of three matches. The wins were comfortable, beating Kenya by 6 wickets through a century from Sourav Ganguly (107 from 120 balls, 11 fours, 2 sixes); beating Sri Lanka by 183 runs thanks to 97 from 120 balls from Sachin Tendulkar, 66 from 76 balls from Virender Sehwag and 4/35 from Javagal Srinath. This match was particularly infamous from a Sri Lankan point of view because there were five Sri Lankan batsmen that got out for 'ducks', or without scoring a single run.

The last win was against New Zealand; after Zaheer Khan helped get the New Zealanders out for 146, Mohammed Kaif brought India home to a comfortable 7 wicket victory.

This brought India into the semi-finals against overperforming minnows Kenya. The match was not dramatic. Sachin Tendulkar (83 from 101 balls, 5 fours, 1 six) and Sourav Ganguly (111 from 114 balls, 5 fours, 5 sixes) took India to 4/270. From where a combined bowling effort from 7 bowlers got Kenya all out for 179.

This brought India into the all-important World Cup grand final with Australia, but Australia dominated from the very start, achieving 105 runs in 14 overs before losing a single wicket. Ricky Ponting (140 from 121 balls), and Damien Martyn (88 from 84 balls) took Australia to an Australian record 359 (2 wickets, 50 overs), a record that would not be beaten until 2006, while scoring at the rate of 7.18 runs per over. India never stood a chance after Sachin Tendulkar lost his wicket for just 4. Virender Sehwag (82 from 81 balls, 10 fours, 3 sixes) and Rahul Dravid (47 from 57 balls, 2 fours) shared a partnership of 88 runs in 13.2 overs, bringing India to 3/147. With India scoring at 5.96 runs an over, the batsmen were scoring fluently, but India's wickets were falling too quickly. India lost their last 7 wickets for only 87 runs to score 234 (all out, 39.2 overs).

There were a huge amount of bright sides in this tournament for India. Firstly, Man of the Tournament Sachin Tendulkar had outperformed every other cricketer in the world cup and had reclaimed his status as one of the best batsmen in the history of world cricket. Tendulkar was leading run scorer with 673 runs, followed by fellow Indian Sourav Ganguly who was 208 runs behind in second. Tendulkar's 152 against Namibia was the second highest score of the tournament and he achieved an average of 61.18. There were upsides in the bowling department as well with Zaheer Khan 4th on the wicket takers list. Finally, India as a team had achieved a streak beaten only by Australia; they lost only two matches in the entire World Cup, both of those being by large margains to champions Australia.

The Indian Squad that were the Runners-up of the 2003 World Cup...
  • Ajit Agarkar
  • Anil Kumble
  • Ashish Nehra
  • Dinesh Mongia
  • Harbhajan Singh
  • Javagal Srinath
  • Mohammad Kaif
  • Parthiv Patel (Reserve Wicket keeper)
  • Rahul Dravid (Wicket keeper)
  • Sachin Tendulkar
  • Sanjay Bangar
  • Sourav Ganguly (Captain)
  • Virender Sehwag
  • Yuvraj Singh
  • Zaheer Khan

Source: Wikipedia

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