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Banglas not to be taken lightly
by Gulu Ezekiel
Mar 16, 2007
So finally, D-Day is upon us. After months—more than a year, really—of speculation, gossip, rumours, hopes and heartbreaks, India finally begin their campaign in the 9th World Cup at Port of Spain on Saturday. Group B is the only one with three full-fledged Test playing nations (Zimbabwe is currently barred from Test cricket) and has been dubbed the ‘group of death’.

In my opinion however Kenya look the best of the ‘minor’ nations and that makes Group C (also including Canada, England and New Zealand) the toughest. Still, Bangladesh can take a lot of credit from their narrow win over New Zealand in the warm-up match. And they are the only minnow side to have scalped three world champions (Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Australia).

Neither India nor Sri Lanka can afford to have an off day when they face Bangladesh. Bermuda can be instantly discounted. They appear the weakest side in the tournament.

The Banglas on their other hand will go into the match with all guns blazing as they did on that amazing day at Cardiff against the reigning world champions back in 2005. After all, what have they got to lose? The pressure thus is all on India. But surely they have it in them to come through the opening match with flying colours.

It is interesting that New Zealand went into their first match against England on Friday with two specialist spinners in Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel.

The Queen’s Park Oval pitch has traditionally favoured spin and this might persuade the Indian think-tank to go in with both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh with Yuvraj, Tendulkar and Sehwag providing the back-up spin. That would mean there probably would be no place in the playing XI for Irfan Pathan.

The opening conundrum is still hanging over the side. Indications are Saurav Ganguly and Robin Uthappa will be in at the top of the order.

Since the tournament is being played in nine different nations with different soil textures and weather conditions, it is impossible to make a generalization at this stage as to which way the pitches will play. With three Asian nations all part of Group B and based in Port of Spain, they should all feel quite at home with both the crowds and the local conditions.

The first few days of matches has certainly shown us some fascinating cricket and a few world records already to boot.

But for India and her countless fans at least, the World Cup begins on Saturday. It’s about time!

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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