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Myth and reality
by Gulu Ezekiel
Mar 24, 2007
This has certainly been a World Cup like no other. We are barely past the group stage and already the shocks and upsets are unprecedented.

The biggest shock of all of course is the diabolical murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. Some more startling revelations are in store in that case so it is best not to comment on it any further at this stage.

Ireland beating Pakistan and Bangladesh putting it across India are the upsets that have sent tremors through the cricket world. And not only for the cricket itself but for the commercial side of things too, something that these days is analysed as closely as run, wickets and catches.

The ICC is surely a bunch of red faces right now considering they had put out the probably Super 8 schedule months before the start of the World Cup.

India v Pakistan on a Sunday at Bridgetown, Barbados on April 15—all nicely mapped out—has turned from dream scenario to a nightmare vision of Ireland v Bangladesh! Millions of dollars of hotel and airline bookings as well as TV ads have gone down the drain now.

It is a tiny glimmer of hope. But it appears highly unlikely that Bermuda would be able to pull off another surprise when they face Bangladesh on Sunday. That is the only way that India could sneak through while even a washed out match would be enough for Bangladesh.

If the miracle does occur—and surely Ireland beating Pakistan has set the benchmark for miracles—Indian cricket followers should ask themselves whether their team really deserves to get in through the backdoor. The sad and glaring fact is that there is a huge chasm between myth and reality when it comes to assessing this current Indian squad.

The myth has been largely generated by the electronic media, both the frantic 24-hour news channels and their hysterical over-the-top flag-waving jingoism as well as the corporates and their wall-to-wall commercials featuring the mega-stars of Indian cricket.

Except in that golden year of 1983, when India left our shores as no-hopers and returned as world champs, the team has always had a bad start to their World Cup campaign.

But the format of the tournament has been such this time around that one bad day and the big names are out. There is no escape route and it is no wonder the TV channels had been pressurising the ICC to change the system in order to protect the major sides. This time around Group B was always going to be the group of death and so it has proved. It is the only group that has only one minor side in Bermuda.

Bangladesh, whatever its poor past record, has beaten most of the top countries in ODIs at some time or the other, as I pointed out in my column last week.

Then again, there is no hiding the fact that the Indian team has too many holes in it. The youngsters were given an extended run over the last 12 months and failed; the veterans were recalled. Now they too have failed to click.

It is indeed a crisis of confidence in Indian cricket. But the Indian board is too busy making idle boasts of being the richest body in world cricket to be concerned at the alarming drop in standards. What a pity!

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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