|West Indies roars while India wobbles|
|by Gulu Ezekiel|
|Oct 26, 2006|
The beauty of one-day cricket lies in its
unpredictabilityBangladesh beating Australia last
year being a prime example. And going by that criteria
the ongoing Champions Trophy must rank as the most
unpredictable of all major cricket events since the
1983 World Cup, which began with Zimbabwe stunning
Australia and ended with India upsetting holders West
Indies in the final.
West Indies are holders of this event too. But their
victory in the 2004 Champions Trophy in England was
seen as a flash in the pan. Their form in the two
years before and the two years after has been abysmal.
That is until a few months back when India were
surprised 4-1 in the ODI series. Laras men then
continued the good work by reaching the final of the
DLF Cup last month in Kuala Lumpur. And now they have
suddenly emerged as the favourites after first
shocking Australia in their first game and now putting
it across India on Thursday. That means they have won
six of the last eight matches between the two teams.
The sub-standard pitches means the bowlers have taken
the upper hand since the tournament began and we are
yet to see a team cross the 300-run mark. Amazing when
chasing even 350 has not been impossible on Indian
pitches over the last decade.
The crises in the Indian team with the World Cup
barely six months away will lead to some pressing the
panic button. It should be recalled however that just
before the last World Cup India went through the
horrors of a nightmarish tour of New Zealand.
Whether Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid can rally their
troops in the manner of their predecessors John Wright
and Sourav Ganguly is the question uppermost in the
minds of all Indian cricket fans.
The entire balance of the team has been sent into a
tailspin by the slump in batting form of their most
dangerous player, Virender Sehwag and the loss of
bowling rhythm of their most talented player, Irfan
Certainly the final game of the tournament taking the
whole thing down to the wire makes for a thrilling
climax. But on present form it will be a major
surprise if India can pull it off against Australia at
Mohali on Sunday. And failing to reach even the
semifinals of a tournamentcrucially, at home-- where
India have twice made it to the final may well have
Certainly the tour of South Africa next month is not
the ideal place for our batsmen to regain their feet.
And the slump of the last six months has swung the
pendulum of blame from the usual suspects, the bowlers
to our so-called star batting line-up.
All this will sound academical should India get past
Australia and lift the trophy next week. But even in
the win against England the batting looked suspect.
It is time for Tendulkar and co. to fire on all
cylinders and repeat history of exactly 10 years ago
at the same venue when India beat Australia to reach
the final of a tri-series.