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Two weeks ago I wrote that India and Sri Lanka would
make it to the Coca Cola Cup final.
A few days into the tournament I looked like a buffoon as
India made a mockery of form, losing their first three matches and looking more like the Batliboi Second XI I used to play against on boozy Sundays than a
However I now find myself being compared to Nostradamus, for the
Indians found some magical elixir and left their critcis (i.e.
you and me) flabbergasted as they roared back to win their
next three matches and a place in the final.
Which leaves us with only one conclusion: if you bet
anything on this final you're insane. After all, it's evident,
the incredible has become the ordinary, anything is possible.
Rahul Dravid, I know, will be shaking his head like a sage,
for when we spoke midway through the tournament, he
wondered why everyone was panicking. He said the pitch was
a trifle slow and the young blokes required settling down but
that things would fall into place eventually. One got the
feeling that like a good team man he was saying things he was not quite sure he
Still, it is the young blokes indeed who have done the
damage, Yuvraj with a 98 and Sehwag with a clean 100 in the last two matches. But
does it mean that much? The captain will say "See, I told you"
but any skepticism is not totally unwarranted. After all, if you
look at the evidence, the chances of Yuvraj or Sehwag firing
in the final is remote.
For a batting country, India's scoring sheets have been dismal.
Take a look:
Yuvraj: 6, 12, 28, 98
Saurav: 5, 69, 4, 0, 64
Laxman: 60, 17, 1, 87, 10, 0
Dravid: 15, 49, 27, 43, 47, 57
Badani: 2, 6, 11, 2, 35
Sehwag: 0, 33, 27, 0, 100
Khurasia: 12, 0
Sodhi: 18, 19, 9, 30
Dighe: 9, 11, 0, 3
Not a single player, with the possible exception of Dravid
(who's topping the tournament averages with 59.50), has
even flirted with consistency. Even if each player hung
around and nudged his way to 30, all added up that's a decent
score. But no, Yuraj and Sehwag keep on with their Viv
Richards impersonations and Laxman, as one teammate put
it, "is like Azhar, not consistent, but playing some beautiful,
The batting order seems to be changed more often than my
wife's shopping list, every combination from Yuvraj/Ganguly
to Yuvraj-Khurasia to Khurasia-Sehwag to Ganguly-Sehwag
trying their luck at opening. After a 142-run first wicket
partnership in their sixth and final league match, you might
think the last named pair fits the part best. Except in their
fifth match, both opened and were out for a duck. Go figure.
The truth is this: to win India needs a good batting
And that's because, astonishingly their bowlers have been
saving them. Despite spankings by Sri Lanka in Sharjah, here
on their home ground, India actually has knocked them over
in 2 of their 3 league encounters. And they've done that by
keeping the Lankan score below 200 in those two wins: 183
when Lanka batted first, 181 when they chased. It follows that
six of the top 10 names in the Best Bowling Averages are
But Sri Lanka, younger in years on the international scene,
have improbably become better big-match players, more
adept at stealing the thunder. Thus, despite indifferent
form with the bat (but don't forget home advantage) it's hard to look past them in the final.
Which knowing my luck means that India will win.