Daily Archives: 17 March 2007

The Big game against the minnows

Ask anyone from the subcontinent about what could be the biggest upset of the World cup and they are most likely to say Bangladesh beating either India or Sri Lanka.

India and Sri Lanka are in a more challenging group than the rest. Bangladesh have a track record of upsetting the best in ODIs. My Bangladeshi friend from work reminded me that they have beaten three former world cup winners – India, Pakistan and Australia and narrowly missed out on beating the West Indies, another former world cup champion.

Cricinfo’s Siddhartha Vaidhyanathan explains why they will posses a big threat. Cricket is a mind game at the highest level and the tragic death of Manjural Islam will no doubt spur the Bangladeshis. Personal tragedies can often bring out the latent fighting spirit and this is another reason why the Indians should be more careful.

I believe this will be tough game for India and Bangladesh will be worthy opponents.

From India’s point of view, there will be tremendous pressure on two key players – Pathan and Sehwag. Surely one of them will play and will be keenly watched by the Indian think tank as well as the opponents.

The Indian game plan should be simple and straight forward.

  • Steady start at Ganguly’s end and Uthappa to play his natural game
  • Sachin and Dravid to control the early and mid part of the innings (tackle spinners)
  • Yuvraj to gather momentum
  • Dhoni and Sehwag/Pathan to finish with a flurry.

Bottom line is – avoid a batting collapse. The Indian bowling is strong enough to defend 250 or bowling first to restrict them to under 225-230.

My prediction – India will win but will be a close one.

-Vish

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Ooh Aah India, Aaya India

On the eve of India’s first World cup match, I thought I’d post the popular Blue Billion Video. Here it is. Enjoy –

-Mahesh-

Gibbs hitting 6 Sixes in a over

Here is the video of Herschel Gibbs’ six sixes in one over –

-Mahesh

News in brief: Saturday 17 March 2007

Likely team :: India V Bangladesh

Some of the opening games against the minnows saw a few off-form batsmen find form against some of the lesser-ranked teams. While A. B. de Villiers will rue his party-bus-miss against The Netherlands, his captain certainly got into the swing of things. Greame Smith hasn’t been travelling quite that well in ODIs lately. His last 15 games have yielded 385 runs at 29.61. Mahela Jayawardene’s last 15 ODI’s have yielded 335 at 23.26. Sehwag’s last 15 ODIs have yielded ugly results for the talented blaster. He has only 225 runs at 17.30! Shocking results really.

Smith and Jayawardene found batting form against Bermuda and The Netherlands, respectively. It is, therefore, an option for India to use the games against Bangladesh and Bermuda to help Sehwag find some runs. If he does, this then sets up the rest of the tournament for India.

In my view, the choice that has to be made is around which 2 of [Uthappa, Sehwag, Pathan] should play. I suspect that the rest of the 9 players in the team will be Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid, M. S. Dhoni, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel. There could be a debate had over the [Harbhajan Singh Vs Anil Kumble] choice. But I’d like to think that the Turbanator has done enough to be on the team sheet as the sole frontline spinner in the team.

So, it is down to picking 2 from Sehwag, Uthappa and Pathan.

My choice would be to go with Uthappa and Pathan. However, I suspect that the team management will go with Sehwag and Pathan.

The thinking over the picks of Sehwag and Pathan would be to provide Sehwag and Pathan a run of two games against Bangladesh and Bermuda. If Sehwag doesn’t fire in these two games, they can always bring in Uthappa for the game against Sri Lanka — he is in form anyway and has had a recent look at the Sri Lankans. The reason for this persistence is the advantage that Sehwag gives the team with 5-6 overs of off-spin too. They would not need this additional cover if Pathan is bowling well. If Pathan were bowling well, the team would have a 5-bowler attack in Zaheer, Agarkar, Munaf, Harbhajan and Pathan. Unfortunately, Pathan is still not quite there. Hence the cover needed in the form of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Ganguly. So, the strategy in the first two games would be to play Sehwag and/or Pathan into rhythm and form. Uthappa, unfortunately, may have to be sacrificed for the sake of overall team balance.

Dravid indicated that the Indian team had decided on the final XI but weren’t announcing it till the appointed hour.

I’d like to see the likely team (in batting order) as:

1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Sourav Ganguly, 3 Irfan Pathan, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Rahul Dravid (capt), 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Munaf Patel

Cricinfo predicts the likely team as:

1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sourav Ganguly, 3 Sachin Tendulkar, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Rahul Dravid (capt), 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Munaf Patel

If it is the Cricinfo team, I’d still like Pathan to bat at #3.

— Mohan