Tendulkar faces up to Lara

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The Independent Online
Two of the richest players in the world, both in terms of millionaire status and abundance of talent, come face to face in Gwalior tomorrow in one of the most eagerly awaited matches in the World Cup.

The hopes of India and the West Indies depend to a large extent on the fortunes of their premier players, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.

Both sides won their opening Group A games with some ease, India beating Kenya and West Indies defeating Zimbabwe but tomorrow's meeting will give a far clearer indication of just how strong the teams are in what appears to be the harder of the two groups.

The last time the two superstars faced each other in the World Cup, four years ago, Tendulkar managed only four while Lara scored a useful 41 in Wellington as West Indies defeated India by five wickets.

However, since then the precocious Tendulkar, still only 22, has signed a $10 million (pounds 6.5m) contract, making him the world's richest cricketer, while Lara has also become a millionaire after a heady 12 months during which he broke both the world Test and first-class individual run records.

Tendulkar is a national institution, revered as much as Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were in their prime, and in Sunday's match he scored his maiden World Cup century, striking an unbeaten 127 against Kenya from just 134 balls.

The Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who took 3 for 28 in his 10 overs against Kenya, could play a key part at the Roop Singh stadium tomorrow against a side traditionally uncertain against top-class wrist spin.

Zimbabwe's Paul Strang took four wickets in West Indies' opening match, dismissing the captain, Richie Richardson, with a leg break, bowling Sherwin Campbell with a googly and even deceiving Lara with another googly which he sliced just wide of slip.

Lara, though, did finish the match in some style with a lofted off-drive for six in his score of 43 from just 31 balls.

Meanwhile, in Colombo tomorrow, Sri Lanka will finally get their campaign on the road against Zimbabwe. The team is already guaranteed four points and virtually assured of a quarter-final place after Australia and West Indies refused to play matches in Colombo following a bomb blast in the capital on 31 January that killed more than 80 people.

World Cup update

TODAY

GROUP B: New Zealand v South Africa (at Iqbal stadium, Faisalabad, Pakistan). TV: Sky Sports: Live 03.45-12.00.

TOMORROW

Group A: India v West Indies (at Roop Singh stadium, Gwalior, India). TV: Sky Sports: Live 08.55-17.00. Group B: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe (at R Premadasa stadium, Khettarama, Colombo, Sri Lanka). TV: Sky Sports: Highlights 22.00- 24.00.

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