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August 02, 2002

Tendulkar and Sobers take heavy toll on tired England

CALCUTTA (England won toss): Rest of the World beat England by an innings and 52 runs

A STUNNING batting display by the Rest of the World XI overpowered England in the deciding match of the CMJ/Wisden Test series at Eden Gardens, and they took the honours 3-2. It had been a long time coming, but the Rest of the World’s batting finally clicked into top gear.

England, dismissed for 282 in their first innings, never stood a chance. Their series-levelling effort in the previous match at Sydney came to nothing as the rigours of the global itinerary caught up with them.

Before this match, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Garry Sobers had made some decent scores, but none had managed a century. Now all three reached three figures — and Tendulkar delighted his millions of fans with a double-hundred. It was a feast of batting, but as usual the Calcutta pitch was at its most docile in mid-match. Peter May probably erred in batting first after winning the toss.

The Rest of the World’s fast bowlers extracted some movement on the first day and finished with three wickets apiece. Sobers made the first breakthrough, swinging one back into Graham Gooch, and then Muttiah Muralitharan outfoxed Len Hutton.

Ted Dexter took command, driving the fast men on the up, then hooking when they dropped short. He advanced serenely to 132 from 283 balls, with 12 fours and a breathtaking hook for six off Dennis Lillee. However, wickets continued to tumble regularly at the other end.

There was a sublime hour in which Dexter and Ian Botham, free spirits and clean hitters both, added 62. But then Botham chipped a return catch to Lillee and the tail collapsed in familiar fashion. Dexter was ninth out early on the second morning.

England’s total was disappointing and soon looking inadequate. Barry Richards treated the bowling mercilessly, setting the tone for the feast to come. He purred to 93 from 98 balls, with 13 fours, before Dexter sneaked one through a lazy backward defensive. Dexter was the surprise bowling star: his energetic medium pace also dismissed Sunil Gavaskar for a studied 51, while Viv Richards holed out for 21.

That was 181 for three and just about the end of English hopes. Lara’s looping backlift contrasted with Tendulkar’s economical movements, but the pair combined in a stand, eventually worth 261, that occupied most of the fourth day. Fred Trueman, who finished with nought for 132, was heard to remark that the shirtfront pitch explained why he had never quite got round to touring India.

Lara eventually departed for 106 — he hit ten fours and two sixes — but Tendulkar just tucked in for more. Sobers loped in at 442 for four and took charge. He hit 12 fours and clattered Botham for six on his way to 102 not out. Sobers eventually called a halt shortly after lunch on the fourth day, when Tendulkar stroked his sixteenth four (he also hit two sixes) to reach the most popular double-century at Eden Gardens since V. V. S. Laxman’s against Australia in 2001. The final reckoning was 616 for four and the Rest of the World led by 334 runs.

It proved to be more than enough. Malcolm Marshall was again too good for Gooch and Sobers trapped a tired-looking Dexter in front. Hutton briefly threatened to score his fifth century of the series, but was bamboozled by Shane Warne, whose only wicket of the match was a crucial one. Hutton, who made 56, finished with 744 runs overall at an average of 82.67. May made 541 runs in the series, Tendulkar 446 and Gavaskar 429, but Sobers (351 runs at 87.75) had the best average.

May delayed the inevitable, putting on 87 with Colin Cowdrey (47) and going on to a cultured century. Muralitharan, who ended with 21 victims in the series, finally fooled him, but it was fitting that Marshall — the top wicket-taker with 32 — finished off the match.

Tendulkar’s supporters were unimpressed by the decision to give the man of the match award to Sobers for his hundred and five wickets. But Sobers was delighted with a series win, to go with the 4-1 success that his Rest of the World XI managed in England in 1970.

Computer simulation devised for Wisden.com by Y. Ananth Narayanan, of Hallmark Software, Bangalore, India. Detailed player profiles and a Wisden 20:20 statistcial analysis of the match can be found at http://www.wisden.com/

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  ALSO IN THIS SECTION
  Tendulkar and Sobers take heavy toll on tired England

  Graphic: Scoreboards from Calcutta

  Hutton provides platform for England triumph

  Graphic: Scoreboard from the Sydney Cricket Ground

  Heroics by Botham see England on level terms

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