India v Sri Lanka, And what rides on it
Interestingly, there is more to it than meets the eye. In cricket at least, the mantra is simple : Big Bucks are where the Indian team is involved. Massive travelling support, TV deals, sponsorships ride on how far down the road the Indian team goes. The super eights schedule was drawn up long time before the tournament started. Ridiculous as it may sound, it was based upon the ODI rankings as of April 2005(huh!!!). Teams were labeled team 1 and team2 in their respective groups based on these rankings. In group B's case, India was team2, or B2 and SL was B1. Even if India were to win all their games, they would still be B2. From one perspective, it does'nt really matter if you are B1 or B2 since you are gonna have to play all the rest of the teams in the fray in the super 8s. But what this kind of system allowed the organizers to do was to draw up a schedule of the super 8s in advance. Allowed them the luxury to conveniently schedule the "marquee" games on weekends and public holidays. And needless to say, most of these marquee games involved India. India's clashes with Pakistan, Australia and South Africa were definitely mouth watering on paper and so were set to be played on weekends. Taking the ICC's word for it, companies have already rolled out big bucks for advertising slots on these gamedays. In-ground advertising has been booked way in advance. Ticket sales soared, Indian people from overseas, especially the US, made arrangements for their travel and stay at the venues in question.
All these people might already be looking for ways to get out of what can very well be a mess.
But if they are not, then god help them. Because one thing we can be sure of - A Bangladesh v Ireland Super 8s game is not going to attract quite the same number of people as an India v Pak game would have.
Pakistan may be out of the picture, but the Indians do still have an outstreched arm in it. What are their chances? what would it take to get past the marauding Lankans. Lets examine..
What I personally feel is that ideally, India should be batting first and setting a target. Two reasons, the pressure while chasing with their survival in the competetion on the line may be too much for the Indian batsmen to deal with, secondly, Sri Lanka's middle over bowlers sometimes just get impossible to score quickly off. Then again, I am saying this with absolutely no knowledge of the picth and weather conditions. If they get a green top and overcast skies, messers Vass and Malinga can wreak havoc. All said, I still feel that chasing would be too much to take(for me sitting and watching too).
About the team composition, I was proved wrong by Kumble last time around. But then it was only Bermuda. Right from the begining, i was not a big fan of Kumble's inclusion in the squad. Always felt Bhajji is a more attacking bowler. Also, what counts against Kumble is that the Lankans have always played him well. The problems at the top of the order are still present. Would they drop Uthapa for Kartik? would they open with Sehwag? I think putting Kartik in the line of fire for this one will not be a good idea. Either they should stick with Uthapa or, and this might be a long shot, bring in Pathan for Uthapa.
All questions will be answered this Friday. Unfortunately, I will only be able to follow the game and not watch it(damn them having the WC in the same time zone).
As all sporting previews end.. "May the best team win"..err.. I beg to differ..
"MAY INDIA WIN"
otherwise, all those people queing up for the India-Pak game, be ready to watch Ireland-Bangladesh's EPIC battle.