Sunday, February 11, 2007

Who can topple the Australian Applecart? – III

Countdown To ICC Cricket World Cup 2007


Presently India to cricket is what Brazil is to Football (Soccer in US). But unfortunately this is only in terms of passion and fan following. We still have a long way to go before we can claim that in terms of results. So as always a whole nation is slowly but surely going to be in the grips of World Cup mania. But what about the team they are supporting? Are they worthy of such adulation? Only time will tell.

The Indian team is just back from the tough tour of South Africa where they received a drubbing in the one dayers played there. Probably because of this there isn’t much anticipation for the world cup unlike in earlier years.

India has a very talented and experienced team as far as batting is concerned. The Holy trinity (Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly) of Indian cricket are back. With the experience of having played almost 1000 one dayers between them and having scored a combined tally of more than 33000 runs they are sure to give nightmares any bowling attack in the world. They are supported by an explosive MS Dhoni and Sehwag and the batting does look ominous.

Impressive though the batting line up might be on paper, it is not without chink. The main core of the lineup is ageing. Sehwag’s form is questionable. And even when he is in his best form he is not very reliable. He is like this lottery ticket that when it hits it will always give you jackpots or go bust. More than any other batsmen in the Indian team, his would be the performance that everyone will be watching with great interest. Robin Uthappa is still to find his feet in international cricket. It would be unfair to expect too much from someone so early in his career. Yuvraj is just recovered from an injury and will take time to get back into his groove.

The weakest link in Indian cricket would be the bowling attack. Even with the presence of Kumble and Harbhajan it would be surprising if any team where to be intimidated by our bowling attack. Barring an ageing Kumble there is no other bowler whom we can term as a genuine match winner. Even though Zheer Khan has been on god form lately he is supported by a higly inconsistent Agarkar. With Sreeanth and Munaf not coming up the ranks in ODI as they were expected, India will surely miss Pathan and his abitliy to take early wickets. India desperately needs Pathan to get the balance of their right.

However it is not all gloom for the Indian prospects. The pitches would not be fast and bouncy and hence the batsmen’s techniques will not be exposed unlike the ones in South Africa or Australia. This will be a big help for players like Sehwag who can then just thrust their front foot forward and bludgeon through the line of the ball. The pitch would be assisting the slower bowlers rather than the pace bowlers, and since India has plenty of options when it comes to slow bowling this would not be too much of concern. Yuvraj, Sehwag, and Tendulkar can all turn their arms over if need arise and can provide additional options to Dravid.

Personally I would love nothing more than seeing India win the tournament. Even though my heart desires this, I must say that we would be hard pressed to even get into the Semi-Finals. There are other teams far better than us whom we will have to overcome if we are to reach there. Based on their current form no sane person would bet on that happening. By hey, stranger things are known to have happened in cricket. Remember 1983?

So how can Australia be beaten?

So far we have been looking at the various teams other than Australia who has a chance of winning the world cup. Let’s now see what should be the best way to beat Australia.

The first thing to do would be to go into the field with the belief that you can beat Australia. You have to be aggressive all the time and come hard at them. This Australian team’s bowling can collapse when subjected to adequate pressure. The only way to beat Australia would be to out-bat them. Since their bowling is their weak point you have to get after them in a sensible manner all through the innings to make them suffer.

The second thing to do would be to take all your chances and not take the foot off the gas pedal at any point. A team like Australia will never give you a second chance and will make you pay for any lapses that may happen. Remember Gibbs dropped catch of Steve Waugh in the 1999 edition of the tournament?
Readers are welcome to add their own suggestions.

It would take a tremendous effort for any team to stop the Australian juggernaut and prevent them from winning the title for a third consecutive time. That team will have to really play out of their skins to beat the champions. But that is the beauty of sport isn’t it? For what greater joy is there in sport than to see Goliath felled by David.

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