How good are India's chances?

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Sunday, November 26, 2000, 20:15 [IST]
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Bangalore: With just about everybody rating India's chances at the 2000 World Cup very high, it makes sense to pause a moment and evaluate these ratings. At the onset lets make it clear that this is no venture to undo the confidence that the Indian team is oozing with, rather it is an earnest effort to weigh the chances.

For starters, good preparation for any competition involves an in depth knowledge of the opposition, topped with a healthy acknowledgement of their cricketing prowess. One is not sure as to how much effort India has drained in that direction.

Secondly, depending on just one department and not being equally adept with the other departments could possibly find India going for the panic button. Spin being India's trump card and the inability of the foreigners to counter spin, it is but natural that India's hope weigh heavily on the spinners to deliver. However, given the tenacity of the opposition and their professional approach are India prepared for a counter attack from their opposition? Do we have a plan 'B'?

Gauging by what was witnessed at the 1997 World Cup, India were mainly undone because they were found wanting in the department of batting and fielding. Australia and New Zealand managed to get the better of India only because they worked on a strategy to negate India's spin card and how did they do this?

Well, to begin with, they were wise enough to know that they couldn't possibly hit their way through the spinners but they considerably diminished the effect of the spinners by pinching away singles and converting their singles into twos and so on. The end result they managed a competitive total without having to take much risk. Now, once they managed a competitive score, you bet, they hold the upper hand. For their fielding is of such high standard that scoring a 50 is worth 75-80 against any other opposition.

So, when India were heavily tipped to win the World Cup in India with the home conditions very much to their benefit they failed miserably! Why? They were found wanting in the other departments, although it must be said that the spinners did a marvelous job on all counts. It was the batsmen and the fielders that let them down.

Let us sincerely hope that India have chalked up contingency measures and won't be found wanting if for any reason the Indian spin attack fails to deliver or the opposition comes up with a counter move.

Thirdly, although India's batting line up is to be envied it more often than not under performs, mainly due to the opposition's agility on the field. One half a chance here-and-there is gobbled up and they make you pay heavily for your mistakes. During the previous World Cup slackness on the part of the batmen proved dear. It still remains to be seen how much slackness has been shed.

Lastly, sometimes, playing the underdog card fetches you a lot of good in that it saves you a lot of undue pressure. But it has to be played with a lot of prudence, forethought and at the right moment.

Yes, emanating confidence and adopting a positive approach from word go is a step in the right direction but India must be wary of the fact that the line between confidence and a hint of arrogance (if not arrogance) is very fine. If India can maintain the balance of not tilting over the line of arrogance and at the same time make sure they do not slip into the zone of disbelief then they would have served their cause well.

So, lets get down to the net evaluation.

While India sport a highly talented side with the factor of spin heavily loaded in their favour, India must be cautious of the fact that it doesn't guarantee them the Cup. There are various factors apart from the ones mentioned above that will have to be assessed if they are to find themselves as the number one team. They will have to play their cards right, be able to gauge the pace of the game and assess the prevailing conditions to effect a positive result.

The bottom line, India definitely possess the talent to upstage any team but they should be cautious enough to cross their bridge when it arrives.

One wishes them all the very best in their endeavour to lift the Cup.

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