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Fans, keep faith in Team India

India may prepare a spin cocktail for a heady Friday against the Lankans, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2007 04:36 IST

Tense faces, distraught fans and a feeling of queasiness sums up the mood on the eve of a match which, if lost, will end India's campaign in the World Cup.

Something unthinkable one week ago but now a palpable reality. Who would have thought when India embarked on ‘Mission Victory’ in these beautiful islands that there could come a time when India might be struggling to qualify for the Super Eight stage.

Bangladesh provided us with a swift reality check and now on Friday, the 23rd, comes the moment of reckoning.

The best thing, under adverse circumstances, is to remember good days and not the bad ones. The thought process and the right preparations — something which we have heard ad nuseam from the team management — should now do the trick for India.

We should all now — regardless of whether you are a believer or a non-believer — hope that this Indian team, which without doubt has the batting strength, will come good and deliver.

Let us for the moment banish all negative thoughts and believe that Sachin Tendulkar will play like he once did to be deservingly called the world's greatest. Let us believe that Virender Sehwag's bat has finally shed its rust.

Once we come to taking names, hope, the eternal bridesmaid, rekindles and the realisation dawns that India has a long list of distinguished batsmen. It starts with Tendulkar and ends with that destroyer of reputations, MS Dhoni.

In between we have The Wall who can play any role depending on the situation the team is in. Rahul Dravid can anchor if need be and innovate if need be. Sourav Ganguly has not taken one step wrong ever since his comeback and why think that the law of averages could finally catch up with him. They can wait for one more day.

Robin Uthappa strikes the ball hard to do ample justice to his boxer-like build and then there is the one and only Yuvraj Singh. Is there a better timer and striker of the ball than him in this World Cup? If there is one, we don't know yet.

And then if need be, India can easily juggle around with its team a bit.

There are many indications that India may opt to play both its spinners tomorrow. Meaning, Anil Kumble is retained and Harbhajan Singh added to strengthen the arsenal. If that happens, there is every possibility that Irfan Pathan will be back in place of Uthappa to provide the third pace option as Ajit Agarkar will have to sit out. After all only 11 can play.

No doubt, the Sri Lankans have looked alert, agile and swift in the field. Their bowling looks more rounded for conditions here and their batting solid and lengthy.

In Lasith Malinga they have a bowler whose action is as difficult to fathom as is his searing pace. And then they have the wily Mutthiah Muralitharan. A heady and dangerous cocktail that could give a nasty hangover to even the best of players.

Not without reason did Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene sound confident. Jayawardene should not forget that Sri Lanka have been beaten by India not mostly at home but away too. While making any predictions, Sri Lanka should not forget that and India should remember this as well.

So, you millions out there, some would even say billions, don't panic. Have faith.

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First Published: Mar 23, 2007 02:54 IST