Saturday, February 19, 2011

India vs Bangladesh: Imagine a worst case scenario

So... it's time. The Indian team is all set to cast its glad eye on the beautiful World Cup once again; the country is already in a celebratory mood and expectations have blown the roof away too.

It's a scary scenario, really: can we, therefore, just stop for a moment and think of the worst? What will happen if India fail to cross the Bangladesh hurdle? What will be the fallout if the team crashes out of the tournament, sooner than hoped or expected?

Just imagine. Well, almost instantly, a pall of gloom will envelop the nation; the people will plunge into another of their melancholic phases; it will feel like the world has come to an end.

Somewhere, there will be a flicker of anger too; somewhere, a hint of simmering emotion. A few pockets might even reach break point, as they did in 2003 and 2007.

And that is the real danger, the real test before Incredible India: can it show it has matured enough to cope with failure? Does it love the game enough to understand that it is nothing but a game?

Will we accept that the players have, and will always, give it their best shot? Are we ready to brush aside any fiasco as just the home jinx? The next few weeks will probably answer some of these complex questions.

But, luckily, all this is just a worst-case scenario: the chances are that India will get off to an emphatic and bold start; that the players, at least some of them, are still reeling from the humbling in Port of Spain.

Revenge is clearly in order; a big win should be the perfect balm for the past and an even better booster for the future. Thankfully, the team is high on confidence; it is on a roll actually, even if you discount the warm-up matches. It has enough experience in the ranks to hoodwink pressure and crunch situations; at the same time, it has enough gumption to not give a damn about the pressure or the crunch situations.

More importantly, it can chase any total without even batting an eyelid; if Tendulkar doesn't tower over the opposition, Sehwag will overpower them with raw energy. If Gambhir provides solidity at No. 3, Kohli adds finesse at No. 4.

After that comes the mayhem: Yuvraj is ready to go berserk while Yusuf has already done that; Dhoni can provide solace or take the fireworks to a higher level. Zaheer and Harbhajan can drive a few too; if they don't, Sree Santh will at least drive them all crazy.

The bowlers, hopefully, won't have much to do, apart from smile; after 45 days, if you see them laughing, you can be sure know that the entire country will also be smiling.