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
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 15all nicely mapped outhas 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
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
If the miracle does occurand surely Ireland beating
Pakistan has set the benchmark for miraclesIndian
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
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
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