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Five things we learned from Sunday’s games at World Cup

As the World Cup gets more and more interesting, India will have to adapt and innovate, writes Soumya Bhattacharya.

cricket Updated: Mar 25, 2011 16:56 IST
Soumya Bhattacharya

1. Predicting is a dangerous thing to do in this World Cup: Really, who would have thought? Just when we were talking about this tournament’s rich harvest of runs, we had the low-scoring thriller that was England v South Africa. England lost six wickets for 36 runs, South Africa lost seven for 41. Ireland, playing with pluck and talent, ran India closer than the hosts would have liked in another low-scoring encounter. Will India v Netherlands be exciting? No, one would have thought at the beginning of the tournament. Now, one simply can’t tell.

2. South Africa are taking calculated risks: Opening the bowling with Robin Peterson was a bold plan, and it worked. (That’s the thing with bold plans. They don’t seem so bold if they have backfired.) It was supported by outstanding fielding. South Africa seem to have a horses-for-courses plan, which is no bad thing. India can learn a thing or two from it.

3. Dhoni’s stubbornness can go either way: Formulating a plan before the tournament and sticking to it – irrespective of how things are unfolding – can be seen to be a case of a captain backing his players and his own instincts. That’s if things go well. If they don’t, it is seen to be a case of being inflexible and silly. (Should India play seven batsmen or six? Who should the bowlers be? More in No

4. India’s bowling options need to be reevaluated: Munaf Patel isn’t working out. Is Ashish Nehra fit? If he is, why doesn’t he play? Piyush Chawla has so far bowled 18 overs in the tournament, and conceded 127 runs for two wickets. Shouldn’t Ashvin get a look in? India have three matches left in the opening stage. The answers to these questions should be found over the course of those games. No team can afford to flounder in the knockout rounds.

5. India’s spinners are not doing their job: Coming on during the first power play, Harbhajan Singh at last showed some attacking intent in the match against Ireland. Yuvraj, as a part-time spinner, at least got five wickets. But India’s spin bowling department is a cause for worry. Including Yuvraj’s five-for, the Indian spinners, between the four of them (Harbhajan, Chawla, Yuvraj, Yusuf), have so far taken 10 wickets in three matches. Shahid Afridi has taken 14 on his own in three games. Peterson and Imran Tahir took seven wickets between the two of them on Sunday. What now?

Soumya Bhattacharya is the Editor of Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He is the author of You Must Like Cricket? and All That You Can't Leave Behind --both memoirs on how cricket defines India -- and the novel, If I Could Tell You. His books have been nominated for national and international literary prizes. He can be reached on twitter at @soumya1910