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India Vs Sri Lanka : Do or Die

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This is possibly the biggest game of the tournament so far. Hell, it certainly is the biggest game of the tournament so far, and at stake are the hopes of two cricket crazy countries with teeming populations.
 
From the overall tournament's point of view, it would perhaps be better if India goes through, although it would be a pity to see Bangladesh go. Things are always more competitve when an overall  stronger team  makes it. Besides, Indian viewership and support does add substantially to the overall fervour, hype and festive atmosphere surrounding the event. Of course, Lanka couldn't care less about it.
 
First, let us try and sort out the innumerable permutations and combinations and the labryinthine mess surrounding the game and its consequences on the group standings.  
 Currently, India, Srilanka and Bangladesh are with NRR's of 2.50, 4.59 and -2.00 respectively. Lets try out a couple of scenarios just to give you a rough benchmark to measure things against.
 
If India lose the game tommorow, they are effectively out of the tournament. If they win, let us consider the closest margins that we can get
 
Scenario # 1
 
If Lanka bat first and score 245, and India win with two overs to spare, Sri Lanka's NRR will drop to approximately around 2.75, while India's will hover around 1.75.
 
Scenario # 2
 
If India bat first, score 250 and win by 10 runs. Lanka's NRR will be around 3, and India will be approximately around 1.5.
 
If India win, this is about as narrow as it gets. In either case, Bangladesh will need a gargantuan win against Bermuda, something approaching a 420 run margin which you can bet your last dollar / rupee / pound / dinar is not going to happen if they bat first, or chasing a target at around 12 runs per over if they bat second, which cannot be ruled out if they are chasing anything between 75 to 125.
So if India win, Bangladesh will need to bat second and will need an absolute blitzkrieg from one of their batsmen - which is a possibility.
 
 
Lets now see what could happen. The big picture, of course, is that India's batting has to cover up for it's bowling.
 
I) Projected Batting Scores
 
Stats have suggested that India have a better batting line up - predicted to score 258 for 6 in their 50 overs as against Lanka's 223 for 7 in their 50. But we all know current form doesn't really reflect that. Jayasuriya and co are in sizzling form, and India's only scores of repute in the Caribbean have come against Netherland and Bermuda. So that really isn't much to go for.
 
What India will need to do is bat to potential. No panic, no shivers, no over-thinking, no trying too hard, just bat for the sheer pleasure of it, they way it comes naturally to them. Easier said than done, of course, but that doesn't they can't / shouldn't do it.
 
II) Runs in Boundaries

If Lanka can dry up the Indian boundaries - as Bangladesh did to a fair extent that eventful Saturday - they are likely to get the Indian batsmen to shoot themselves in the foot.
 
This is because India depends heavily on boundaries - on an average scoring 122.84 of their 258 runs i.e almost 48% through fours and sixes. Comparitively, Lanka seem to have a better balance between quick running and big hitting, depending on boundaries for only 40% of their runs. But it will certainly help to keep the man who is earning the tag of 'Matera Marauder' more strongly now than ever before - Sanath Jayasuriya - away from the fence, and force him to run his runs, thus tiring and frustrating him.
 
 III) Most Valuable Bowlers

Surprsingly, the man who is not in the playing XI for India, Irfan Pathan , seems to be their best bet, with a bowling average deviation of 6.15  i.e. his bowling average is 6.15 points better than the overall team average. A dicey decision, but not playing him will be like Argentina not playing Lionel Messi in their quarterfinal loss against Germany this World Cup.
 
Irfan's deviation is even higher than that of Lanka's best bowler, Murali, whose average is 5.47 points better than the team average.
 
Surprsingly, Farvez Mahroof emerges as a better bowler in these circumstances than Chaminda Vaas, with a deviation of 2.39 as against the left-handed veteran's 1.99. India will need to watch out for him.

IV) Hunting in pairs - key partnerships


Analyzing the two teams best 5 innings and worst 5 innings over the past 30 games gives some useful points.

It will help India's cause if they can keep Jayasuriya, Sangakkara and Jayawardene apart from each other. Lanka's least scores in their last 30 years have come when their partnership has failed, irrespective of individual efforts.
 
As for India, if they are to get a big score - which they dearly need to - Ganguly, Tendulkar and Yuvraj will need to stick together.



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