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Historic Saturday

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It will not be enough for India to just win its two remaining group matches convincingly. If Bangladesh beats Sri Lanka on Wednesday, only then will Indians breathe again. After Saturday’s performance, this may not be quite as impossible as we thought, but Sri Lanka is likely to be better mentally prepared than India were on Saturday. If Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh, then even if India beat Sri Lanka on Friday, Bangladesh will have the upper hand, as they will play the last match of the group against Bermuda, knowing exactly what they have to do to make the Super 8. Amazingly, it looks difficult for India from here, after just one off-day. Freak of the draw. 

What led India to be so uninspiring and lackluster on Saturday is worth asking though. Why is the iffy Agarkar, who consistently fails under pressure, persisted with? Why was proven match-winning bowler in slow conditions - Sehwag not bowled more? Why were the early Indian batsmen so over-cautious? How could so many unforced errors follow each other during the shocking collapse after Yuvraj got out? It is unlikely we’ll get too many answers straightaway and perhaps not thereafter either, as the Indian team will be a very different one post this world cup if they meet Pakistan’s fate.

Poor Pakistan, and poor Inzamam. It is a tragedy that his world cup career ends exactly the opposite way it began. The newly-erupted political crisis would not have helped the Pakistan team’s morale, and their bizarre capitulation against Ireland means that the latter will be in the Super 8. Whether that is great for cricket or not, it is certainly going to make the Super 8 matches less interesting.
 
Bangladesh’s presence in the Super 8 could be the most exciting thing to happen to cricket in ages though. The intensity and spirit of the side is a sight to behold, and they look as at home as Sri Lanka did in 1996 (and Sri Lanka were literally at home). Perhaps it is still too optimistic to expect Bangladesh to go beyond the Super 8 – their captain Bashar does not seem the most inspiring and the inexperience of the very young side is bound to manifest in relentless world cup competition. But let us enjoy the ride while it lasts. It is spectacular and heart-warming.



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