Morale low: India needs to re-group

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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India's defeat against Australia is not the end of the road for it. The game of cricket is as much about mental health as it is about physical condition. Australia was a superior team on both levels. The game is all about executing plan and showing a commitment. It is not skill alone which will win you the World Cup. Australia has shown a very high level of competence. It plays the mental game very well as also the physical and the commitment is extra-ordinary. It has got a huge level of self-belief to overcome obstacles.

It is a team on a mission. India definitely looked a team low on morale. It does not look to be a unit which has much belief left in it. There are not many teams in this competition who can take on the Australians if they do not believe they can do it. India needs to re-group quickly. It would have to win all its remaining matches in this competition. It cannot afford to lose to Zimbabwe or show indifferent form against Namibia.

Then it would have to beat at least England or Pakistan to remain in contention for super six. Ideally it should win all its remaining games. It must have a game plan and It needs to be confident. It looked to me that they were intimidated by the Australians. But then most of the international teams are intimidated by the Aussies, except may be for the South Africans. For the sake of the game, I hope this tournament doesn't turn lop-sided. It wouldn't be good for the game if interest in this World Cup was to wane.

Looking at the Indian innings and especially at a couple of guys at the top of the order, it did appear they wanted to take on the Australian fast bowlers. It was a bad game plan as not many batsmen in the world can hope to take on Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie and hope to succeed for long. There was a bit of recklessness in it rather than cool calculation and it couldn't have come off against the Australians.

Except for Sachin Tendulkar, none of the other batsmen appeared capable of getting big runs. They were playing with hope and intention to survive rather than looked to score runs. Australia had mentally overpowered the Indians but there is no disgrace in losing to the World Champions. The key for India was to try and see off the new ball with a minimum of damage. If it could have seen off the frontline bowlers, then it could have looked to capitalise against lesser bowlers in the middle overs.

But Tendulkar apart, nobody looked capable of picking loose balls and work singles. The team did not look a part of the game against the Australians. The top order did not survive and runs were at a premium. Australia has now taken a huge stride towards the second round and looks unstoppable. India, on the other hand, is fighting for survival. The sooner it turns the corner, the better. There is little time left on hand.

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