Continuing my series of randomly arbit thoughts on the Cricket carnival called the World Cup !!!
Yesterday's win by Bangladesh over New Zealand in the warmups only waters the seed of doubt that I have in my mind about my team's chances at the first stage. A lot has been said and written about how the first 15 days of the World Cup (when the 1st round takes place) are absolute bores. In fact, Rediff has published an article saying that the ICC, on its website, has already published the Super 8s schedule alongwith the teams !!!! (According to that, India play Pakistan on April 15th, and India's games against Australia, South Africa and Pakistan are all on weekends :))..
But before that, lets not write off the other 8 teams, Least of all, not Bangladesh. They are by far the best of the other 8 sides. They have beaten almost every one of the big boys in the past. Also, the wickets in the West Indies might suit their kind of bowling (no express pace, gentle medium pace backed up by decent spinning options). Their batting, although their weak link, has a couple of names (Bashar and Ashraful) who, on their day, can win match (ask the Aussies !!).. Therefore, if there is any group which resembles the popular 'Group of Death' (a term made famous by the Football WC), it is group B that contains Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and of course, India.
Both India and the Lankans would have to be very careful about their matches against Bangladesh. A shock defeat to the Bangladesh would derail their entire campaign and one of them might be returning home by the month-end. Given that both India and Sri Lanka are being counted as potential semi-finalists, this would change the nature of the cup going into the Super 8s. India's first match is against Bangladesh on March 17th. This is both good and bad. Bad because India have been slow starters (last time, they struggled against Holland in their 1st match, were thrashed by the Aussies in their 2nd before bouncing back strongly) and hence, they would have to be on their toes and at the top of their games right from the 1st ball they bowl (or face) in this Cup. Good because, god forbid, a reverse there would mean that they have a game against the Lankans to follow as a do-die game.
So, March 17th is as important a date in India's WC campaign as any other !! All the best to the team in Blue !!! And hope my thoughts are too random and arbit not to be true !!