Groups matter not, form does!
Australia are favourites and rightly so, but Pakistan are unpredictable and dangerous, writes Tom Moody.india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 12:32 IST
Before anyone asks, let me say that no, we didn't expect the cakewalk against the West Indies at Mumbai that eventually came our way. We had anticipated a tough battle, but I was delighted at the way the boys got on top of their game and took advantage of the conditions.
Even more heartening was our attitude going into the match. We hadn't really had an opportunity to bowl first and wanted to bat un der lights to test ourselves in these conditions. As Mahela indicated at the toss when Brian won and opted to bat, we would have elected to bat second, so it was a good toss to lose, as they say.
However, I believe the battle truly begins now. With due respect to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the fact remains that we have not really been tested yet, so we look forward to the challenge of playing tough opponents like Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand.
I have been asked whether we would have preferred being in the 'other' group, and my answer is that we don't mind either group. The truth is that there is no tough or easy group in a tournament of this standard, and though the conditions may initially favour some teams a bit, teams at this level ad just to conditions pretty quickly and there is little to distinguish between them.
We will learn more about the pitches and playing conditions as the tournament progresses, but obviously, this being India, the expectation will be that the slower bowlers will deliver.
Ironically, three quick bowlers orchestrated our victory against the West Indies! However, the slower bowlers will obviously have an impact, though I would like to reserve comment on their role till later in the tournament.
As we open our group stage against Pakistan on Tuesday, I believe the tournament is wide open for all the teams.
Think about it: Australia are favourites and rightly so, but Pakistan are as unpredictable and dangerous as ever, while India are a powerhouse at home. Similarly, all it takes is for Andrew Flintoff or Steve Harmison or Kevin Pietersen to have a day out for England to romp home with a win.
New Zealand and South Africa are both highly respected one-day sides.
Sri Lanka have always been viewed as a very good one-day team, though we have had our ups and downs. With that background, our performance in Mumbai is bound to make the other teams watch out for us.
While we have always been accorded a lot of respect, I believe in consistently improving on performance, and I think the time is approaching when the words 'watch out for Sri Lanka' will be heard with a lot more frequency than in the recent past.
As we take on Pakistan, we are not bothered about who the opposition is. We are concentrating solely on our performance and playing to our strengths. We are high on confidence, and I would like that factor to remain with us, whatever our fate in this champi onship.
(This is the first in a series of exclusive columns that the former Aussie all-rounder will be writing for the HT.)