Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cricket takes a back seat ahead of Champions Trophy. What are India's chances? Who cares...

Srinivasan stepped down from Presidency (temporarily), Dalmia appointed Interim President, Shukla resigns as IPL Chairman, Shrike and Jagdale resigns from BCCI posts, Gurunath & Vindoo Dara Singh gets bail, Sreeshanth, Chandila & Chavan’s bail denied, Chavan managed to get married under worst possible circumstances, Dhoni’s found to have conflict of interest in Rhiti Sports Management Company and New revelations everyday on spot fixing investigations – like it or not, the off field activities have completely occupied the center stage. Cricket for the very first time (to the best of my knowledge) has totally taken a back seat during a marquee event like Champions Trophy. I’m surprised even the media did not care to run India’s chances in Champions Trophy. That shows the air of resignation from a cricket crazy nation, or maybe they think it is a sin to support Indian Cricket now. Even if the public follow the event, I’m sure their attitude would be – “I care a damn about this event or your performance”. Well, Dhoni & Co could not have asked for a more blessing environment. Make hay will sun shines is the phrase to be remembered for Dhoni boys.

The pressure less situation already seems to have its effect on India’s performance.  First India chased 334 against Sri Lanka comfortably after 110/4. From a dicey 55/5, India managed to pile 308 on the board against Australia. This was followed by bundling out Australia for paltry 65. On both counts, Dinesh Karthik emerged as the surprise package delivering a century each. Another day the efforts of India in the warm up matches would have been celebrated big time. Thanks for the low key interest - it really seems to benefit India.

With century performance in both the warm up games, Dinesh Karthik cemented his place in the starting XI against South Africa. It will be interesting to see who will sit out for him (Vijay / Rohit Sharma). With conflict of interest looming large, it would not be a surprise, if Dhoni prefers his CSK mate Vijay over Rohit Sharma in the XI, though Vijay appears crappier of the two. Again, the existence of the franchise in limbo next year, don’t be surprised if Rohit is preferred in the XI over Vijay. My personal pick would be Pujara. Unfortunately there is no point in talking about a person who is not selected in the squad. Between, the same conflict of interest that we talked earlier - warrant Sir Jadeja’s inclusion in the XI. But the same logic can work against Jadeja too for Pathan.

Logically, India should field the following XI against South Africa in the opener.

Rohit Sharma, Dhawan, Kohli, Karthik, Dhoni, Raina, Pathan, Ashwin, Yadav, Ishanth Sharma, B Kumar.

But, don’t be surprised if Dhoni fields the following XI (in that order) being unfair to Karthik.

Karthik, Dhawan, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, B Kumar, I Sharma, Yadav

Let’s see.

This appears to be the open tournament, with no team looking to be clear favorites. Let’s run a short prelude on their chances.

Group B

Clarke’s injury misery continues. 65 all out against India in the warm match don’t augur well for Aussies preparation. Australia does not appear to be a compelling side to win the tournament. I will be curious to see if they could progress to the next phase of the tournament from Group B.

Another day, England should have been the favorites. With Peterson ruled out and the ongoing series against Kiwis already lost, it is difficult to pin hopes on the hosts to win the tournament. However, they still appear a good side to progress to the second half of the tournament. If momentum catches from there, may be things could fall in favor of England.

New Zealand
Kiwis emergence in the shortest format in the recent days have been interesting. Especially after the drubbing against England in the recent Test Series, nobody anticipated New Zealand to lead the 3 match ODI series 2-0 over the hosts. But Trent Boult non availability for the Tournament should be a big jolt to their campaign. Since nobody expects too much from Kiwis, they should fancy their progress to the second half of the tournament.

Sri Lanka
Expecting Asian countries to do well, in a tournament played at England is little too much. Especially, when they are led by relatively new captain, with fairly young squad. All we expected to see is promise from the Island Nation and nothing more.

My pick would be England and New Zealand for second phase, while I wish to keep Sri Lanka as the dark horse for this phase of the tournament.

Group A

South Africa
South Africa would have been better off including Philander in the squad. He would have served well, especially with the absence of Kallis (Steyn joining the injury list now). With Smith and Kallis not available as batsman leaves Amla and DeVillers to guide the ship. Well, I’m not too excited about South Africa’s chances. But they have promising youngsters to put a show.

Pakistan appears to be one team taken this tournament seriously. Obviously they were left with no other choice like playing the IPL fanfare. Their fast bowling resources spent about a month with Akram honing their skills. They then arrived almost a month ago touring Ireland/Netherland getting used to conditions. Their bowling has always been mercurial; the question is – will the batsman join the party?

West Indies
West Indies are another young side. They won the World T20 recently; however the captaincy has moved hands. They have a good fast bowling quadrant; it is again the question of batsman coming to party. If it is the shortest format, no doubt they would have been the favorites. Since its 50 overs a side game played in England conditions, I would prefer to punt on Pakistan rather West Indies.

This is one team usually popular for batting talents. However, we all know how these batsmen perform outside subcontinent. For a change the fast bowling quadrant looks solid. Unfortunately they are led by a spin friendly captain. Even on fast bowler friendly bouncy surfaces like Australia, Dhoni’s preference has been the slow bowling all-rounder Jadeja instead of the medium pace all-rounder Irfan Pathan in the XI. Considering the circumstances Indian Cricket is in, I guess Dhoni will keep his personal preference aside put national interest ahead. By all means, not many Indians are going to care if India wins or lose this tournament. This should serve a huge advantage for India.

My personal pick would be India and Pakistan to qualify for the second phase of the tournament, while I wish to keep West Indies as the dark horse for this phase of the tournament.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...