I have resisted the temptation to title this post 'I told you so !!!' because, quite frankly, it needed no genius or great cricketing mind to foresee that the match against Bangladesh would not be easy for the Indians. In the entire run-up to the World Cup, the talk was only about whether India would reach the semis or not. One news channel also analyzed thread-bare all of India's matches in the Super 8s. It was only on the day (17th March) that people finally woke up to the challenge that Bangladesh represented, with one newspaper talking of the banana skins that lay in India's way.
I guess the primary cause for the shock on Saturday is this, we simply underestimated the opposition. By we, not just the team management, but also the media and fans. Then there was the decision after the toss. If Dravid n co felt that we needed to give our batsmen practice on a seaming track (there is also one thought that he wanted to have his batters bat out 50 overs rather than bowling Bangladesh out for a poor score and then chasing the target in 25-30 overs), then again, he underestimated their bowling attack.
Most of our batters gave their wickets away. People trying to cut balls close to the stumps, chasing wide ones straight to point, trying to score against the turn etc. Old failings all of these. The skipper got a marginal lbw decision, but that is part of the game. The lower order simply collapsed and only the last-wicket stand saved face. To add to this, some of the deficiencies crept up again. I talked in my last post about how we needed someone to shepherd the middle overs. But we dont have someone who can do that consistently. On Saturday, India scored only 30 runs between overs 20 and 30, which is quite poor. The fastish left arm spin of the Bangladeshis simply suffocated us. In the afternoon, the wicket had become quite good for batting barring the odd ball swinging and we our bowlers always were going to struggle defending 191. Having said all this, hats off to the Bangladeshis. A young squad played out of their skins to defeat the so-called 'favourites'. For the sake of world cricket, one hopes that this will be dawn of their renaissance and such victories become more frequent.
As far as the Men in Blue is concerned, its an uphill struggle for them to progress now. Because their fate is no longer in their hands. Beating Bermuda by a margin even wider than what the Lankans achieved is going to be tough. And in the Sri Lankans, India is going to meet an opposition similar to the Bangladesh but much more skilful and experienced. And the sad part is, beating Sri Lanka also wont assure them of a ticket to the Super 8s. Anyways, still the wishes go out to the team in Blue.