Daily Archives: 1 March 2007

India’s schedule for the World cup?

Mohan’s article was an interesting read about results in the Group stage that would maximize India’s chances of advancing to the semis. But, here is what I think will be the standing at the end of the Group stage –

Group A Group B Group C Group D
1. Australia India New Zealand West Indies
2. South Africa Sri Lanka England Pakistan

The reasoning for these standings is that I believe the 8 teams shown above will beat the minnows easily and the real test is the match played between each other. Of these, I think Australia will beat South Africa, India will beat Sri Lanka and so on…

Based on these standings, these are the games India will be playing –

Date Opponent
March 28 South Africa
April 01 Pakistan
April 04 England
April 12 New Zealand
April 16 Australia
April 18 West Indies

It is interesting to see that if this scenario plays out, India’s last game of the Super 8s will be on the 18th of April against the hosts – West Indies. All other teams will have another game to go after that and I hope India would have already qualified by then – rather than wait on the outcome of the next three games, which they will have no control over…


Pakistan team in trouble…

Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif have been ruled out of World Cup 2007, ostensibly because of injuries. Speculation is rife, of course, that this may have more to do with a failed private dope-test than any injury-related issue. With Abdul Razzaq also out injured (knee), one would be pardoned for having a what-the feeling! Replacements for these three are Azhar Mahmood, Yasir Arafat and Mohammed Sami.

The team sheet reads:
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Azhar Mahmood, Danish Kaneria, Iftikhar Anjum, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Sami, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul

Unless Inzamam-Ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousuf, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik play a couple of blinders through the tournament, I somehow can’t see this team doing well. If they do, I’ll be the first to eat humble pie!

— Mohan

Group results that would be good for Team India

A few basics on the tournament points-rules first. Let us remind ourselves that:

  • The World Cup 2007 has 4 Groups (A, B, C, D and E) of 4 teams each.
  • The top two teams from each group (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, D1, D2) will advance to the Super8 stage.
  • In the Super8 stage A1 will not play A2, B1 will not play B2, C1 will not play C2 and D1 will not play D2.
  • So, Super8 teams will only play 6 games each in the Super8 part of the tournament.
  • Any points that teams may have earned against the other qualifier from their own Group will be carried through.
  • At the end of the Super8 stage, the top four teams will go through to the semi-finals.

Let us also remind ourselves that the Groups are:

    [Group-A]: Australia, Scotland, Netherlands, South Africa
    [Group-B]: Bermuda, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India
    [Group-C]: Canada, Kenya, England, New Zealand
    [Group-D]: West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe

Like most cricket fans and pundits, the expectation is that Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, England, New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan will make the Super8.

Let us further assume that we do not have rain, game-abandons and ties.

Given that most of us on this Blog would want Team India to maximise its chances of entering the semi-final stage, I feel that the following results in the Group stages of the World Cup 2007 will be good for India’s chances.

  • India wins all its 3 Group-B games — against Sri Lanka, Bermuda and Bangladesh.
  • Australia thrashes the living daylight out of South Africa in its Group-A!
  • England manage to win only one of their Group-C games and that is against New Zealand. England then proceed to lose to Canada and Kenya and bomb out of the tournament. This is not a pipe dream, but a regular England thing when it comes to World Cups in any sport! But more seriously, it would be good if England were to beat the Kiwis.
  • West Indies beats Pakistan.

Reasoning? I think a team would need 3-4 wins out of the six Super8 games plus one from its Group-game to be a safe shoe-in to the semi-finals stage. I believe that of the Super8 teams, India can beat England, West Indies and New Zealand. If we add to that a Group-game win against Sri Lanka, that would then be the games that India needs. Unless India plays some exceptional cricket, I expect the team to lose to Australia and South Africa. Even though India has never lost to Pakistan in her World Cup outings, the India V Pakistan game is always a lottery. So, a win there would be a bonus.

India’s semi-final contenders are, in my view, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan. Despite the recent chest-beats from Barry Richards and Sunil Gavaskar, I still feel that there is daylight between Australia and the rest of the teams and they must be a dead-cert for the Semi finals. So, the best results in the Group stage would be those that disadvantage South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan. Hence the results-suggestions above.


— Mohan

Indian Team Writers’ XV

It is clear that cricket dominates everything in India at the moment. Indian TV news is dominated by cricket. Panel discussions and audience-based programmes have commenced… Well, they have never stopped really have they? Every second ad on TV apparently has a cricket flavour. There are cricket songs being penned furiously. Even Bollywood has gone cricket — well, they always were, but more so now!

Shah Rukh Khan MC’d a farewell event organised by Pepsi, which featured the new Pepsi Gold bottle — sigh! Apparently the event had, amongst others, Priyanka Chopra and Mandira Bedi — her of noodle-straps-fame. The event also featured songs by Sukhwinder Singh, Adnan Sami and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy who belted out numbers from Salaam-E-Ishq, etc.

Everything is cricket in this cricket-crazed country!

Everyone is talking about cricket. Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth, Kapil Dev, Harsha Bhogle and Ravi Shastri have never been busier. They are wheeled from one studio to another to talk about one thing or another. The topics may be incredibly diverse and varied as long as they focus on team composition! Well at one programme Gavaskar talks about team composition. At the same time Srikkanth and Mohinder Amarnath are at another studio, talking about team composition. You may have missed a simultaneous programme on a totally different topic on a rival channel. So you might record it. A later replay would show that at another programme, Shastri, Bhogle and Gavaskar collide to talk about team composition. Fresh eyes. Fresh views. Meanwhile, another programme has developed a scoop on team composition and that gets a lot of airplay and repeats too! Looking for a fresh angle, yet another programme wheels in Gavaskar and Bhogle to talk about team composition. By then, a tired looking Gavaskar, with match-sticks to prop up his eyelids, charges like a wounded bull into yet another studio where he and Srikkanth are going to talk about team composition. Srikkanth is looking fresh although he has hardly had time to blow his nose!

Occasionally, Kapil Dev will say something nasty about Greg Chappell. This merely serves as a temporary distraction before the amazing diversity of topics resumes around… team composition! Diversity is apparently good!

Then at about 1am, when the whole nation has slept, these pundits have to rush home to write articles for the next mornings’ newspapers… articles about team composition!

Then another day begins and so does yet another round of expert-comments, interviews and studio-audience-shows.. on team composition!

Prompted by a lovely article by Shailaja Bajpai in The Indian Express — in which she talks about much of the things that I have talked about in this article — I set about looking at the number of celebrity-cricket-writers that are writing about cricket; the assorted army of now-old cricketers who are providing a healthy dose of sound-bytes about cricket to the various channels — of course, all of them on team composition!

I have seen the following ex-cricketers write about and talk about cricket in the last little while. I may have missed a few, but I think I have captured a fair few of them.

And they have been organised in batting order!

Sunil Gavaskar, Kris Srikkanth, Arun Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, Sanjay Manjrekar, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sandeep Patil, Ashok Malhotra, Yashpal Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Kirti Azad, Syed Kirmani, Kiran More, Madan Lal, Javagal Srinath, Atul Wasson.

That’s about 18 ex-players — not a bad team to field huh?

Virender Sehwag’s form, Sourav Ganguly’s return and Irfan Pathan’s fitness have dominated their bleat-time. But each one is unique. Each one has a voice. Each one has an opinion. Each one is heard… As long as they talk about team composition, everything else is forgiven!

— Mohan