I knew there was some problem brewing. I always get that feeling about India games (and in a similar fashion, about USC games). The feeling I get when I over-plan the viewing of the game itself. Plan a sports bar meeting. Or some drinking games. Or simply idli-dosa breakfast along with the game on TV (as opposed to my internet-only subscription).
That feeling is that India (or my favorite team in other sports) is going to have a bad day out. I tried to slow it down towards the latter part of the week by forcing myself and the cousin whose house I saw the match at, to behave “normally”. Oh by the way he feels (corrected since: he felt) that India will win the World Cup this year! So naturally the expectations were raised for this supposed gimme game. Of course, as we know, things did not quite turn out the way it seemed to have been set up.
Some of my thoughts (besides extreme anger at the team’s performance):
Objective #1 – Pocket the win
The ugly: It was not only a loss, but it was a loss in ALL departments of the game. India was never in the game except for a very brief period where Yuvraj and Ganguly seemed to have some control over the bowling. Starting from the top order collapse to the lack of a decent middle consolidation to the surrender of the lower order except the 10th wicket partnership, there was really nothing in the batting. The bowling failed to turn on the screws when needed and to add insult to injury, the teenagers from the Bangladesh team were actually stepping out to India’s pace bowlers and whacking them all over the ground. And finally, the Bangladesh fielding saved I would say at least 20 runs in the field, whereas India failed to convert a few half chances that came their way.
Pathetic loss to start the campaign and frankly, I have written the team off as long as Sehwag continues to be part of the XI. And that brings me to the next point …
Objective #2 – Bat well and accumulate a good net run rate in case of tie breaker situation
Here I need to start with the most burning situation first and therefore, go in reverse order.
The ugly: Virender Sehwag. That’s all I can say. He was almost run out without facing a single ball for lack of basics like dragging bat in the crease and rather trying to jump over the fielder. And then, in trying to cut a ball too close to him, chopped it on to the stumps! Un-freaking-believable shot from a guy who clearly needs to get back to the drawing board and save his PR money for when he actually gets back to some sort of form. Seriously, India really needs to drop this guy from the XI. I believe Pathan at #6 is better than Sehwag anywhere in the order and of course in pure batting terms, Dinesh Karthick will be better anywhere in the order than Sehwag.
The bad: The top order unnecessarily put themselves into a hole by trying to exaggerate the devil in the pitch. At the same time, Robin Uthappa and the lower middle order got out to unnecessary shots and create more pressure for everyone else.
The good: It continues to be the return to the team of Saurav Ganguly. What a turnaround he has had! I, among many others, had proclaimed that he is out of sight and therefore out of mind. Now he is not only back in the team, but essentially the only batsman in form today! And of course, he is one of the few stars in my Fantasy Team 😉
Also another good thing with the batting was Zaheer and Munaf who showed it was not that bad to bat on the wicket.
Objective #3 – Bowl and field well to show the world that defense wins games
The bad: The initial few overs were key but the young opener (I deliberately refer to him without name) had other ideas. Even though Zaheer got a wicket, both he and Ajit strayed once in a while and it gave Bangladesh enough comfort in an over to chance their arms here and there.
The fielding was the other aspect that classifies as ‘bad’. Dravid should have somehow created a catch out of that lunge at mid off. Dhoni should have scooped up that dying caught behind chance.
So the defense showed it was not up for the challenge and it let some young guns in the opposition take over the game. Of course, it is not their fault that India lost. If the batsmen had put up 30-40 more runs, it would have been a better total to defend.
The bottom line was that India had absolutely no answer to Bangladesh’s energy, fighting spirit and overall preparedness for this game.
So where do we go from here? We have a theoretical chance of making it to the next stage if we beat Bermuda (and it has to be BIG) and then of course, we have to beat Sri Lanka. Of course, there is one other thing that we can hope for Bangladesh beats Sri Lanka, but I don’t think that is going to happen.
As for the next game’s team, I hope Sehwag is dropped. Also, we may see Kumble coming in for Ajit. I fear that Dravid may give Sehwag one more chance against Bermuda thinking he can strike his form against the lowly team. I hope it does not happen.
On a big sidenote (and hopefully not inviting any flames), I am glad that at least our rivals Pakistan are out of the Cup losing to Ireland! 🙂 For quite some time, Indian fans had only Pakistan to watch if their team was out – did we beat Pakistan, and is Pakistan still alive in the Cup? And in this case, the former will not happen but the latter is in our favor.
So for now, here’s hoping that India scores a big win tomorrow!