Monday, February 28, 2011

Things I think I think - World Cup edition

As Pranab Mukherjee lays awake at night wondering how much of their hard earned money he will need next year, a few million people have more important things on their mind.


I am one such.


-          I will be extremely surprised if India wins this World Cup. Somewhere deep inside, I think Dhoni and Kirsten know that as well. Not just because we bowled the way we did against England, but our bowling needs responsive pitches. Except for Zaheer Khan, our bowling department is not quite fluent in the skills section. Their role is more to trundle along and ensure the ball goes 22 yards, hopefully on a single bounce. Outwitting the batsman is not really our forte.


-          The Super Over is a mighty fine way to break a tie in a T20 game. But not quite sure the team bowling second will be mentally ready to pick up the bat for 1 over. Especially after all the excitement they would have gone through to tie the game in the first place, having been in the field for close to 4 hours. Maybe we already had our one tied game for this world cup, but I'm just saying it's not a fair contest.


-          Munaf Patel's one short run was the difference between 338 and 339. It was the difference between 1 point and 2 points. It might just be the difference between playing Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the quarters.


-          Right now, if I were Dhoni, I'd rather play Sri Lanka given how much we've played them over the last 3 years.


-          With the Netherlands and Ireland both running fancied teams very close in their first games, Group B is tough to predict. But my lineup from the group is South Africa, India, England, the winner of Bangladesh/West Indies. (in that order). I pick India above England, since I see both losing to SA, while beating the rest. NRR is something that India traditionally has been an expert in.


-          Group A is much easier. Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (in that order). The fourth team doesn't really matter. Speaking of which, Sri Lanka ought to be ashamed that they're going to be third in a group which has been basically designed to suit their needs.
-    Sometime in the afternoon of March 20, MS Dhoni and Darren Sammy will go out to the toss knowing exactly what they need to do, to avoid playing Australia / Pakistan / Sri Lanka in the first knock-out game. None of the other teams will have that opportunity. That is about as unfair as it can get. The ICC, in its greed to maximize revenue, has sold 13 teams down the river, so that the sponsors can get maximum value by having India play on a Sunday.


-          And speaking of stupid, as Humphrey Bogart once said, "Of all the gin joints in all the cities in the world, she had to come to mine!!" (or something like that), of all the appeals against all the teams, the stupidest UDRS decision comes against India. Which is not so bad. Because, for all it's worth, the UDRS is more an outcome of the ICC being seen to do something, rather than the ICC actually doing something. If you're doing something so that it helps your image, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. I don't know what Dhoni means when he says "adulteration of human intellect and technology", but the whole thing was stupid.


-          Don't ask me what the ICC should do instead of the UDRS. I don't get paid enough money to decide such things. But if Sharad Pawar were to come to me with an offer, I'd surely think about it.


-          Coming back to the World Cup, here are the reasons based on what I have seen why the following teams will not win it:


o   Australia: Not enough experience post Ponting and Clarke in the batting order. Plus not sure about Steve Smith as a No. 7 who can make a potential 300 score into a 350.

o   Bangladesh: They seem focused on reaching the quarter finals. I haven't heard a single Bangladesh player saying they're here to win the World Cup. They'd just rather beat India, England and everyone else in the group. When they don't believe themselves, why should I bother?

o   England: You can't not win a game where you have 60 –odd to win in the last 10 overs with 8 wickets in hand and hope to have a chance of winning the cup.

o   India: See above. Plus they don't have anyone who is guaranteed to score 25 runs at a strike rate of 125 and then bowl 10 overs at less than 7 per over.  Whatever Yusuf Pathan provides is a bonus.

o   New Zealand: Vettori would rank alongside Churchill and Napoleon if they were to win.

o   Pakistan: Just too many knock out games given their unpredictability.

o   South Africa: I know I am being picky, but their 6, 7 and 8 lineup (du Plessis, Botha, Peterson) doesn't quite inspire. They DO have the best batsman (Amla), best allrounder (Kallis), best bowler (Steyn) and the best fielder (Duminy) though.

o   Sri Lanka: They're playing with 10 men on current ability, and Murali on sentiment alone. You pretty much need to take any two out of Dilshan, Prince Kumara or Captain Mahela on the cheap, and you win the game.

o   West Indies: Their fortunes just changed when Dwayne Bravo turned his knee.

o   The rest: If you truly, madly, deeply believe that one of them will win the world cup, and they really do, you my friend should be getting into the soothsayer business. We haven't had a good one since Nostradamus.
In short, I don't know who will win.


-          So, given this, my pick is:

o   Quarter Finals: Australia – Bangladesh/WI, Pakistan – England, Sri Lanka – India, Doesn't matter – South Africa

o   Semi Finals: Australia – India, England – South Africa

o   Finals: Australia – South Africa

o   Winner: Australia.
(Based on the "Federal" theorem of sports named jointly after Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal. Unless someone beats them, there's no way anyone else is winning the Cup. ) The last time they lost a World Cup game, Virat Kohli was in 5th standard..


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