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What a strange thing hope is. It is at the same time man’s greatest strength and his biggest downfall. It springs eternal from the human breast according to the poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer. And now a billion Indian cricket fans are left with nothing else to cling on to other than this very thing. For their overrated bunch of heroes have made things extremely difficult for themselves by losing to Bangladesh at the world cup. It would take some brilliant performances aided by a fair degree of luck for these guys to go through to the next round.
The Indian cricket team must be one of the most fickle of teams in sporting history. After having demolished West Indies in a warm up game they have promptly gone on to lose to a lesser established team like Bangladesh. Nothing clicked for India on that fateful day against Bangladesh. Their batting wilted, seemingly from the fear of losing. The bowling was as penetrative as a blunt knife. And the fielding was all butter fingers. Indians were outplayed and embarrassed at each aspect of the game, even at the post game press conference. The Indians were forced to come out of the match with their tails between their legs and deservedly so.
Image Courtesy: cricinfo.com
So it must have been relief to everyone involved with Indian cricket when they saw that the next scheduled match was between an even smaller team – Bermuda. The Indian went about thrashing them thereby boosting their bloated egos. The whole country is waiting though. Everybody knows that this is just the calm before the storm. Their real test would be between their crucial encounter against Sri Lanka. And even if India wins that game whether or not they would go through to the Super Eight would still depend on somebody up there liking them. India needs luck to be on their side to get a favorable net run rate equation to go through.
Sri Lanka would be a much tougher cookie to crack than Bermuda. For one thing their bowling is far more potent than India’s. For another their batting can be as destructive as India’s. Add a much better fielding ability to the mix and the scale tends to shift in Sri Lanka’s favor. But as was illustrated in the match against Bangladesh cricket is nothing but a game of glorious uncertainties. And that’s where Indian cricket fans are clinging their hopes on.
Image Courtesy: cricinfo.com
For India to beat Sri Lanka, our batting needs to come good. I am sure that if we can get to the 30th over without losing too many wickets then the big guns coming in later can blast off. This is why I want Dravid to come up early in the innings, maybe as high as 3. He should drop the sheath anchor with the later explosive batsmen playing around him. I would also bring in Pathan into the eleven. He solidifies the batting line up especially the tail which looks very long at the moment. If he goes at around 4 runs an over then we should consider him as having done his job instead of expecting him to do the great things he used to do in the past.
Finally this is the last chance for the golden generation of players who have managed to consistently underachieve at the big stage. But this time they will have only themselves to blame and the general public may not be as forgiving as before. Like one banner said at the Trinidad the other day “This is your last chance India. Win this or else stay in Trinidad forever”.