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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Preview: India vs Sri Lanka / Match-fixing?

On the 23rd of March, when India faces Sri Lanka in what may well be a knock-out match for India, India are likely to get knocked out - going by pure statistics, that is. In World Cup matches, India's worst percentage success record, barring Australia*, is against Sri Lanka. What we could still bank on though, is a semi-mathematical phrase called "Law of Averages".
Mathematics is going to be important, for sure, with the Net Run Rate factor very likely to come into play. However, for the time being let's leave out maths and analyse the cricket first.
Sehwag's finally come good (unless you are a big fan of Poonam Saxena, my favourite columnist in HT. She writes, "I just saw the picture of a victorious Virendra Sehwag....looking like he had just vanquished Attila the Hun's predatory hordes, instead of a bunch of very fat men") - so what if it's against Bermuda. A century is a century. 400 is 400, and India now has the world records for the highest score and the highest margin of victory in a World Cup match. So, has the ghost of the Banladesh defeat been buried?
Not quite, I'd think. Uthappa has failed twice in a row now, and the Indian bowling has been well below par and the fielding shoddy. Ganguly, in spite of the fact that I'm his greatest fan hasn't impressed me much - his two half-centuries looked patchy and he has been more than a little lucky already. On the contrary, Sri Lanka has been my favourites to lift the Cup for quite some time now and they were close to clinical in their annihilation of Bermuda. The 321 was a team effort and the bowlers finished off the opponents for a meagre 78 in less than 25 overs. Again, the spoils were shared and Murali at 4.2 was actually the most expensive bowler.
Man-to-man, Lankans look better - it's important that you factor in the reality that Tendulkar is not the Tendulkar he was, nor is Ganguly and on Sehwag, Poonam may have half a point, if not more. Look at the other side - the Lanka bowling has the right variety in Vaas, Malinga, Maharoof and Murali. Don't forget Jayasuriya, a wonderful ODI bowler and the person responsible for destroying India's famed batting line-up in the 1996 semis. It's beyond argument that both him and Vaas would better qualify as all-rounders than Tendulkar, Sehwag, Ganguly, Yuvraj or Agarkar. Pathan is the only one who could have been better, but he is not in the best bowling form and is yet to be included in India's team so far on this tour.
Sri Lanka will start as favourites on Friday, the 23rd March. But cricket, lots of them say, is a game of glorious uncertainties and that's why me and a billion other India fans will be sitting glued to their television sets all Friday, hoping and praying for an Indian win. All we will need is - either of the two to deliver, Tendulkar or God.
* also Bangladesh, but there has been just one India-Bangladesh match in the World Cups


Abhigyan said...

I agree...I think its a grand strategy to make all India matches exciting...

Tis Sri Lankan team looks like the Indian team of 2003..becoz in spite of the oldies, the youngsters look young..Our Sehwags and Munafs look at least 10 years older than they are..

But if Sehwag plays half the way he did that day, then commercial interests should stay intact..Our bad record against them is becoz of '79 & ''96...

Anoop Sundaram said...

still have hopes on Sachin or God?!??!?! india has i guess come a long way from the dependency on sachin... hopefully one of em say Uthappa/Sehwag/Sachin/Yuvraj/Saurav gets going....... dont think it wud be fair to say either Sachin or God!! Hoping for an Indian victory.. my hunch is they WUD do it!!