Jan 14, 2003

Everyone's got their take on the World Cup. Me too:

This must be one of the most confusing times ever for the people in the Indian cricket think-tank: on the postive side, never before (IMO), has an Indian think-tank seemed more better-equipped in the mental department as far as theorizing on cricket goes. Also, they seem to have a much better support system in place. But coming back, what should be the strategies? All of them have been tried, tested and failed.
* Does Sachin try out at 4 or 3? Or does he open (no big matches to try this one out)?
* Does Ganguly drop down the order?
* Does Dravid play as a pure batsman? (I think the answer to this is known, but I'd hate it if he dropped some important batsman in a crucial match and that would invariably mean flak for him. Though people know these risks, they'd still go after his head if it costs the Cup.)
* Do you play one or two spinners? Will it be the offie or leggie?
Some of these answers should've been resolved in NZ, but got compounded instead. Like someone said, if they'd won, people may have said: they're peaking too early, and if they lost, it would be: there, told you so. It may take the pressure off, but nothing like winning. Someone will have to do something bold against Australia, it seems. Australia don't seem to have the flair this time, except for Warne and partly Gilchrist. Unfortunately, the Indian fielding went to bits and people just gave up too early, it seemed from the body language. 3 weeks left for Durban.

In most cricket World Cups, the winning team has had atleast one match in which they seemed down and out, and someone came up with an astonishing effort to get them the win. In support, India v Zimbabwe ('83): Kapil Dev, Aus v Ind ('87): Steve Waugh (IIRC), Pakistan v NZ, semi ('92): Inzamam, SL v Ind ('96), semi : Aravinda De Silva, Aus v SA, prelim & semi (Steve Waugh & Shane Warne). Every winner in this competition is tested with a crisis, they have to overcome it. Keep an eye out for it this time, for apart from the first 2 WCs, it's always been very tight.

I like mentioning this each time, I think it's an aspect that is talked about much but this particular instance went largely unnoticed. Commentators always love to harp on how good ground fielding that cuts down on runs can make the difference. In that historic semi between Aus & SA, Michael Bevan's fielding as a sweeper cover was outstanding. If you see the highlights, you'd notice how he constantly attacked the ball, rendering many runs impossible (and we're talking about fleet-footed runners like Rhodes). Just how much difference it must've made. If Bevan had said, "I've done a lot already, let me take this one coming to me easily for this time only", Australia might've never won. Absolutely admirable!

So many big players from last time are either missing or out of form this time: Klusener, Geoff Alott, the Waugh twins, Azhar, Cronje, Neil Johnson, Cairns, Kaluwitharana et al.

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