Come Saturday, cricketing war begins
Come Saturday, February 19 and 2011 World Cup cricket war will
be declared when India play Bangladesh in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka play
Canada on Sunday at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in
Sooriyawewa in Hambantota and Kenya take on New Zealand in Chennai.
The two teams, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, unless the unforeseen
happens, should coast to victory and gather the much needed inspiration
to take it from there and attempt for the plum.
The India- Bangladesh game should be a welcome teaser. It will be
after the excellent opening that Bangladesh Cricket Association has
promised to put on display. India are fancied to win this game.
But India will not breathe easy until they come out of this game
victors. It's hard to forget the 2007 World Cup fixture in the
Caribbean, that shell shocked India when Bangladesh upset them in the
first game of the preliminary round which ultimately led to their being
ousted from the tournament.
As the two teams meet again, Bangladesh will want to prove that the
2007 victory was not a fluke. And the Indians are of course poised to
take sweet revenge and redeem the nightmare that was.
But the ardent prayer of every cricketer and sports fan will be for
the rains to take a breather and let the games continue without
interruptions, not be a spoil sport and allow the dreaded non cricketers
Duckworth and Lewis to pad up and decide.
Cricket must be played the full 50 over quota. When weather plays up
and overs are reduced it sadly takes away the gloss and the very purpose
that this game was invented for. It loses its appeal as a contest.
Thankfully the three stadiums - the R Premadasa, Mahinda Rajapaksa
and Pallekelle have been cleared and given the green light by the ICC
panel that visited these venues. The SLC organisers can heave a sigh of
relief and doubting Thomas' can hide their faces in shame.
It is inexplicable the excuse that some cricketers seem to be making.
First it was the cry that they had been deprived the exposure of playing
and practicing at the Hambantota and Pallekelle Stadiums.
Then followed the lament that Sri Lanka Cricket is in disarray and
they are unable to concentrate on the jobs in hand. The third is the
querying as to why SLC agreed to play the match against New Zealand in
Mumbai and why not in Sri Lanka. Now isn't this poor thinking
considering that the draw was made many a moon back.
There are more important matters to focus on and condition our minds
to enjoy games and not be dragged down by pathetic laments. Rather the
cricketing warriors of all 14 teams must make things happen by having a
positive spirit that will not disappoint the huge crowds expected.
To win the World Cup, along with the three million dollar prize money
and all the sponsorship is what all teams aspire to. There is also the
unquantifiable joy that each team gets to be an integral part of the
It would be foolhardy to even hazard a guess as to the ultimate
winners. But teams such as India, Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa,
England are the formidable teams who should be in contention with
cricket fanatics wagering on them.
The teams that can cause an upset and turn the form book on its heads
are Bangladesh and Pakistan. Bangladesh are best positioned because they
are fielding their best warriors and are injury free.
What has happened to teams like Australia, England, South Africa is
that they have been playing too much cricket weeks before the World Cup
and find many of their players carrying injuries with them.
The worst affected are Australia and England. Australia will miss
their best one-day champion in Michael Hussey and spinner Nathan Hauritz.
England will miss their best one-day basher in Eion Morgan.
There are others too who are nursing injuries, but hope to be fit
when match time comes around.
In one-day cricket bowlers must bowl wicket to wicket and contain the
batsmen. Fielders must grab the half chances, reduce the twos into ones
and the batsmen are even expected to throw technique to the wilds and
play the weirdest of shots to obtain their runs.
Teams will do well when batting first to take advantage of the first
15 overs when field restrictions apply and chalk up maximum runs. In
this aspect the opening batsmen will have a big responsibility.
If the openers could succeed in this effort, then it will give the
batsmen following the ideal launching pad to take it from there build,
consolidate and post a total that should be beyond the team chasing.
When good openers are being spoken about, especially those who scored
freely by taking advantage of the field restrictions in the first 15
overs and hitting over the top and setting a new trend, Sri Lanka's
Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharne stand out without peer.
Many teams tried to emulate what Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharne did in
the 1996 tournament that was the chief factor in Sri Lanka winning the
They came a cropper because they did not have batsmen with the
aggressive hitting of Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharne.
It is hoped that the present Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga and
Tillekeratne Dilshan who have it in them to do a Jayasuriya and
Kaluwitharane will oblige.
Over then to the cricketing theatres where a virtual cricketing war
will be staged with the combatants well geared with their uniforms and
armoury and skills to give life to bat and ball. May those with the best
strategic and tactical ploys and prowess triumph.