Friday, February 18, 2011

Sreesanth is India's lucky charm

The anticipation is about to end as the World Cup kicks off in Dhaka, with India playing the first game against the team that finished their chances in the West Indies World Cup. There is talk of revenge but that is no way to play cricket because it will only make the batsmen in particular, lose their timing and the bowlers their rhythm as they try too hard.

Revenge is a dish best eaten cold and that is where the two leaders in the Indian team will play a part. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is called 'Captain Cool' for his sangfroid under pressure and Gary Kirsten, the coach, has never been known during his playing days to do anything violently. That will serve India well for it is important for them to begin the campaign with a win.

World Cup: The day of the underdog

They have been magnificent in the warm up games and though not much can be laid to store on those performances, it showed that most Indian players were ready for the fray. The new ball bowlers are a bit of a worry but as Dhoni explained they were under instructions not to go flat out and keep themselves in reserve and step up for the World Cup matches.

The one thing in India's favour is the inclusion of Sreesanth in the team in place of the injured Praveen Kumar. He is India's lucky charm. India won the ICC World T20 when he was in the team and then lost the next two editions and the ICC Champions Trophy when he wasn't there and thereafter whenever he has been in the Indian team the team has given a good account of itself.

All those wrist bands and energy bands and the chains and necklaces have to help and then there is the touching of the ground before he enters it and other rituals. India should not go wrong with all that and so the cup is as good as in India's hands.

There will be other teams of course who will dearly want to upset India's applecart for any team would be upset with the presumption in the Indian media that India has already won the cup. It's pretty much like when England plays the Football World Cup and its media is only speculating who they may play in the finals.

Every other team and its supporters are then only looking to see England's backside kicked and that is exactly the situation with India in cricket. So make no mistake, other teams will be looking to rub India's nose in the Indian dust. The big threats are Australia, the defending champions who are looking to win it for the fourth consecutive time and their skipper Ricky Ponting will have a hat-trick of wins as the leader of the team. They have come back well after the Ashes defeat and are combining well.

Odds favour Asian giants

South Africa is another team that has plenty to play for. They have always been so near yet so far and with a bit of luck could well have happy memories of this cup. Then there is Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Both teams are under the radar and that means that the pressure of expectations is not there and so they can go about their jobs without the attention that teams like India, Australia and South Africa will be getting from the fans and their media. New Zealand is another team that can spring a surprise.

However the real tournament begins with the quarter finals when it will be 'form on the day' that will decide who goes through. That is where everything has to come right for teams including winning the toss.

That is still a month away and in the meanwhile, everybody will be hoping that the tournament begins with a cracker of a game.

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