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Uncertainties apart, India & SL are teams to watch

columns Updated: Mar 04, 2011 15:11 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine

Expectedly, the first week of the World Cup has not been a very exciting experience, as the disparity between the top cricket-playing nations and the rest is so huge that the contests had to be one-sided. Instead of fretting over the format or bashing the minnows, for whom being on this stage is a moment to cherish, let us focus on what possibilities exist for the future.

Though the contenders have not been tested much, my initial impression is that it will be very hard for a team other than one from the sub-continent, to win the World Cup.

The conditions here are such - low-bounced slow turners - that except for South Africa, no other team from outside the region has that balance in their bowling attack to win matches regularly. But this does not make SA strong favourites as their batting lacks the depth to recover from a top order collapse.

Australia lack balance in their bowling with their over-reliance on pace and even if they were to succeed in containing their rivals, their batting again is suspect to take them right through to the end of the tournament.

England, which many believe is the team to watch, appeared too listless, fatigued and almost a bumbling, comical outfit on the field against the Dutch. They do have the batting to test the best, but I doubt if they have the bowling to win close matches in these conditions. That spin will be the basic diet on these wickets goes without saying and it is here teams like India, Sri Lanka & Pakistan have an edge.

Pakistan's bowling attack, despite all the setbacks that have depleted their strength, looks strong enough, but again do they have the batting to score huge and consistently? One doubts that. That leaves the top two contenders, their credentials being reinforced by what one has seen in the first week.

India's batting might, in the conditions they are so well used to playing, has an almost scary, formidable look to it. Unless its top and middle order is bounced out - hard to see that happening on these wickets - they are going to be merciless. And they have the slow bowlers to strangle any side. Yet, their poor seam attack and sloppy, lethargic movements on the field, and the weight of expectations should remain a major concern.

That leaves Sri Lanka. I think this is one team which has the right bowling balance, athleticism on the field and the batting strength, to challenge any team. A titanic clash with India in the final can be a real possibility unless the two teams were to play each other in the earlier knockout rounds. Fortunately, the outcome of sporting contests can never be decided on paper and upsets lend the game its real charm and who scores over whom will remain a guessing game till the end.