Friday, March 16, 2007

Where there's a willow, there's a way

The world cup is finally underway. Set in West Indies for the first time, this is probably a tournament that is thrown open to any team which shows the skills and the courage to play consistent focused cricket for a long period of time. By virtue of England and New Zealand defeating Australia prior to this tournament, there is actually a belief, a whisper of a possibility that someone else other than the team from Down Under might take the crown. How I wish for that to happen. I think there has to be democratization of cricket supremacy. West Indies had their reign, Australia have had theirs. Now another team should step up and claim the title. Australia are still the favorites, but they are beatable.

This is the first week, and it should be officially be labeled the ‘minnow bashing’ phase. Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa have already posted a 300+ score. Gibbs outdid everyone else by hitting six sixes in an over. It has never happened in an international match before. That is mind blowing, against any form of bowling attack.

However, let the high scores not carry us away. I remember seeing the highlights of the practice matches and the pitches were very slow. That implies that this tournament isn't necessarily going to be won with power hitting, when faced with good bowling. It will be won with skill to handle the slowness of the pitch, running hard for twos and having a lot of good slow bowlers in the team. On account of the third, I feel that that South Africa won't make it. They aren't a good team when playing other than their comfort zone, especially if Gibbs doesn’t fire. Teams like India and Sri Lanka then have a slightly better chance. Don’t rule out the dark horses West Indies. They are always a threat in their home conditions, and a couple of bizarre performance notwithstanding, I think they are a fairly good one-day team. They lack consistency which will be their biggest bane. Pakistan, England don’t have a prayer. New Zealand has a shoe-in because of their ability to chase down high totals. Plus they have a decent bowling attack with Bond and Vettori.

Coming to India’s chances, I think Sachin moving to 4 will be really critical. I think he will be brilliant in that position in these conditions where you need someone to shepherd the innings and set a tempo for batsmen like Yuvraj and Dhoni to come. The bowling is really good with Zaheer, Munaf, Agarkar, Kumble and Harbhajan. The two weak links for me are Sehwag and Pathan. Strange as it may seem, they should be competing for the same spot of an all rounder. Sehwag in his current batting form is a big gamble, but his bowling will allow us to go with only four specialist bowlers. He tends to bowl better than Sachin and Yuvraj in the one day format. Pathan was bowling at Kumble’s speed in the practice match, clearly showing how out of form he is. While he provides good batting support, I would rather go with a bowler like Munaf. The trouble is the batting order. If you pick both Sehwag and Uthappa, where do they bat? Does Dravid come at 3 and Sehwag after Yuvraj? Does Uthappa need to step down to 3 and Dravid to 5? These are the primary problems that India is going to face. Here’s my ideal playing eleven for India, not necessarily in this batting order.

Ganguly
Uthappa
Sehwag
Sachin
Dravid
Yuvraj
Dhoni
Bhajji
Agarkar
Kumble
Patel

My semi-finalists for this tournament are
India
Australia
West Indies
SA or SL or NZ

The fourth spot is tough for me to call out and I think that will depend upon how the leagues go. Perhaps I may be proved wrong about West Indies. The winner of the tournament. Why of course, India! :-)

P.S> I am following the matches on Dish TV at home, and it is a pleasure. I hate watching the matches on streaming video on a small screen. It tends to freeze exactly when the bowler comes to drop his delivery. I also realized that the World Cup has demonstrated the gulf that I have in my passion for the game and other friends who I thought were as passionate. Or, have I just refused to grow up? :-)

18 comments:

Shreemoyee said...

Yes, I am rooting for India too, but the way they are playing today, bad.

JVC1 said...

Watching Bangladesh bashing India, it's not a minnows week at all!!

Lotus Reads said...

Not being a huge cricket fan I don't have too much to contribute to this post except to say that the game is notching up fans like crazy in Toronto...last summer they were even offering coaching camps in my city (and I don't even live in a big city like Toronto). I'm enjoying how popular this game has become.

Good luck to India, and yeah, I heard the Bangladesh team might jsut spring a surprise.

sd said...

#$%^&*!@#$%^&*

Sorry.

RTD2 said...

Oh ohhhh :(
I guess I'm glad I am not subscribing to Dish.

Abhishek Dhasmana said...

"Ladega to Jeetega" is the catch phrase of Pepsi's campaign for team India ... It seems Pepsi knows what our "tired legs" need but not ones who matter. They even made 5 of them appear in the ads just to reinforce what needs to be done ...
but alas as they say you can lead the horse to the water but you can't make it drink.

Pallavi said...

hahaha..heartfelt analysis of the tournament..:D, but I can totally understand the passion.

Parth said...

@All: I got up at 6 in the morning, promptly made my coffee, woke up friends whom I had promised to and watched the Indian team succumb to a courageless performance. But at the end of the day, there wasn't a gaping hole in the heart because Bangladesh well and truly deserved to win. They showed the fire and the stomach for a fight. David slays Goliath in cricket, and while I want India to win, I am not agonizing over it because the better team won. On the same count, after our match I went and watched Pakistan being humiliated by Ireland. Ireland showed great gutso too, and once again you felt like cheering the underdogs. The big guns India and Pakistan have been taught a lesson, and rightly so.

@Shreemoyee, JVC1: As if to prove me wrong, Bangladesh and Ireland trumped

@Lotus Reads: In Seattle, we play in cricket leagues spanning through the year. Height of passion: playing a match in snow.

@SD: I hear you man.

@RTD2: Surely you aren't saying that your condition for subscribing to the World Cup is India doing well. Its about the team, yes, but there's more to the tournament than just India.

@Abhishek: Yeh ghode hain ya gadhe hain? :-) If only the players would justify their endorsement money. I can't imagine the hype like this in any other country, where ads are made and songs are picturized for a team going to play the World Cup.

@Pallavi: Thanks :-) Looks like my pasion is pouring out in these comments as well.

30in2005 said...

Hey Parth: do you have an email id? I have a cricket related question for you.

shreya said...

its depressing. india lost to bangladesh. be the bigger man if you want to, parth, i'm just going to keep mourning.

kal pata chalega ke bermuda beat india! i think the bloody canadian team has a better chance!!

sigh.

Parth said...

@Shreya: My wife had exactly the same sentiments. Another friend was in complete denial and kept saying she couldn't believe it :-) So far, we don't look like we will lose to Bermuda, despite Uthappa's duck. BTW, don't miss the replay of that catch by Leverock and the celebrations afterwards. You can't help but smile.

Nocturne said...

tell me about it. husband subscribed to Sky Dish just for the Cup, and it arrives a week late, and we missed Pakistan getting the crap kicked out of them.

30in2005 said...

I've sent you an email. Please just let me know whether you got it.

shreya said...

well, we're a strange bunch aren't we? losing to bangladesh and then setting a Cup record, all in a week's work!

am looking forward to the india-sri lanka game. though my viewpoint is damned negative on our chances! sadly enough, i have two exams on the day of the match.

and then, maybe thats a good thing!

RS said...

has demonstrated the gulf...

Just curious, in what way? Didn't your friends get up early to watch the game or did they not subscribe to Dish?

Parth said...

@Shreya: I saw the Bermuda match. We were flat in our bowling, and if we odn't raise our game, SL will make us suffer. They are a very strong side.

@RS: Ya, they did neither. I even invited several to my house with promise of cricket, bagels, coffee et. al. Sleep was preferable for many. Over and above that, the general enthusiasm in discussions was missing, before and after the start of the tournament.

RS said...

The reason I asked was, Kamal has pretty much the same complaints, he initially thought we could split the $200 dish/willow TV cost but nobody was up for it for various reasons - inconvenient timing, what if India loses? etc.

My dad pretty much ordered us to install the dish thing right away, he seemed to think it was a crime that we hadn't done that still :p

Parth said...

@Nocturne: I sympathize with your husband. The dampening of expectations of watching cricket is too much to bear.

@RS: I have consciously moved away from the grad student model of sharing etc., neither am I tied only to India's performance at the World Cup. I figured that if I can watch 10-15 decent matches in the tournament, the 200 dollars would be worth it. So far it has, and the super 8's haven't even begun.