Note: This post was composed before the Bermuda/Bangladesh match today. Regardless, the point remains the same. India played like losers. They just did not bat well enough against Sri Lanka on a great batting pitch for me to hope for a Bermuda upset on Bangladesh. They bowled ok in that match, but the batsmen let us down once again (after the Bangaldesh debacle).
It was a bad loss against a team which was truly beatable on the day. And if you consider that it was a must-win for India, the way they batted was simply unacceptable. What were the top order thinking? Uthapa and Ganguly seemed to be in a lot of hurry to score quick runs and Ganguly did not realize even after losing Uthapa to a bad shot that he needs to be there till the end. He gave up with a lazy shot. What was the rationale?
Anyway, even though there is a theoretical chance that India can make it to the Super 8, I would believe it would be unfair for India to go through because of the way they have played.
And a final note – looks like once again I jinxed India. I “worked from home” and made it a big deal at work the previous day, and as usual overplanned the whole thing. And now, I am afraid the world cup package on willow is not going to be worth it 🙂
Now, on to the thoughts on the match:
Objective #1 – Restrict Jayasuriya and the other big guns from getting a big total
The good: It was a great opening spell in which not only did Ajit, Zaheer and Munaf keep the batsmen quiet, but also got a few wickets at the top to continue the pressure on the middle order. My fear was that Sri Lanka, after being put in to bat, would get off to a flier and make 300-320 and easy target to achieve. From the first few overs, it was clear that at least it would not be easy to get to 300-320+ target.
Objective #2 – After restricting initially, don’t let them get away to a huge score
The good: The innings was mainly controlled by India. The bowlers all did their job well and kept the batsmen in check. There were no huge overs and there was no real momentum built for a true slog over launch.
The bad: There were not enough breakthroughs taken in the middle to truly cause a collapse. Harbajan was useless and too predictable. If we were ok with predictability, we should have pursued the Kumble option, where he could at least slip a fast flipper through to get a wicket or two.
Of course, the last few overs were pathetic because instead of limiting Sri Lanka to maybe 220, India had to live with a target of 250+.
Objective #3 – Get a decent start to launch the chase
The good: Not much good here. The only thing we can talk about is the positivity shown by both Ganguly and Uthapa. But I think the exuberance was ok till it caused their downfall.
The ugly: The way in which the top order got out. Uthapa was living a charmed life and the wily Vaas eventually got him with his mind. Uthapa was bent on hitting Vaas straight through and succeeded once or twice and Vaas finally got the ball closer to Robin’s body making him scoop it up straight at the bowler which ended up being a nice reflex catch.
Ganguly was also looking very impatient. Unlike his previous many innings where he dropped anchor and started to accelerate only after settling in completely, here he started stepping out randomly. This was one innings where he should have hung around, being the only man in form, and should have let the other end keep hitting out and maintaining the strike rate. He would have been ideal against Jayasuirya’s spin in the middle. But he got out lazily and created a sudden sense of panic in the team.
Sachin probably got a wake up call about his age with the ball he got out to. He had no business to miss the ball due to the pace, but it did seem like he was just a little late to play at the ball, causing an inside edge to the stumps. Once again, just when he needed to fire, he did not. I don’t know, this inning and his form of dismissal may end up creating a bad World Cup legacy for Sachin like Gavaskar’s dismissal off DeFreitas.
Yuvraj’s run out was unfortunate, and definitely at the wrong time (is there a right time for a run out???). Dhoni’s wicket was also a pathetic shot attempt – why did he have to try such an extravagant shot off the back foot against the world class spinner?
Can’t expect much from anyone else down the order, but Ajit’s dismissal was also quite sad. He tried to hit out the first few balls and I think I saw Dravid at the other end come and ask him to not hit rash shots, but he did not listen and ended up stepping out and hitting the ball straight to a fielder.
Objective #4 – Win the match and virtually eliminate Bangladesh from contention
Mission a thorough failure!
I know that it is hard to overlook one of the worst performances we have seen from the Indian team, especially given that the nucleus of the team is completely going to change come next World Cup, but now at least I can watch the rest of the games with a real outsider’s point of view. 🙂