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Have defined roles and stick to them

There were miscalculations in the loss against South Africa, says Anil Kumble.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2011 01:26 IST
Anil Kumble

India need to treat Sunday's final league game against the West Indies as a pre-quarterfinal. They need to tell themselves they need to win the next four games on the trot to lift the World Cup. It's a simple enough goal and it's not beyond them - they have won many more games in a row in the past.

They also have to spend the next few days being absolutely clear in their thought and methodology. For that, the players need to introspect and be completely honest about how each has gone about playing so far.

Missed trick
There's not been one game where things have gone according to script, and that's critical. They also need to think on their feet, adapting to a game on the go. In the loss to South Africa for instance, perhaps the batting power play could have been taken in the 16th over, when Sachin and Sehwag were running riot. Given their form, it would have completely demoralised the South African strike bowlers and perhaps not allowed Dale Steyn, always dangerous, to come back into the game with such vengeance.

Defined roles
But each event is a learning experience. And if the players keep their heads and stick to their roles, it shouldn't be as difficult as it seems. At the end of it, you need to have clearly defined roles.

If Gambhir or Kohli's role is to bat 50 overs and rotate the strike, and Yuvraj and Yusuf's are to hit, then the first two don't have to get after the bowling. They have to follow that role-play. The advantage India have is the Windies game is the final league tie. They will know exactly what they need to do and who their quarterfinal opponents will be if they win or lose, or even whether they need to win to go through.

Open affair
With Bangladesh beating the Netherlands and moving to six points, this has really become an open group. England, on five points, need to beat the Windies in their final game to have a chance of qualifying. Let's assume they do.

Then, if South Africa beat Ireland and Bangladesh manage to pull it off against South Africa, India could even be in a must-win situation against the West Indies to avoid a "down to the net run rate". It is strange that India are Group B toppers, and yet we're talking about qualification. The table, obviously, is not a true reflection of performance, which it really should be.

Confusing script
Clear roles help. See how New Zealand, despite fitness issues with players including Daniel Vettori, have thumped the minnows, and more importantly, have looked like a unit that is firing on all cylinders.

England, on the other hand, have looked jaded. It's never easy when you're coming into a big tournament on the back of a long trip and injuries, but still, theirs has been a confusing campaign.

They should have won against India, they tied.

They should have lost to South Africa, they won. They should have beaten Ireland, they lost, just like they lost to Bangladesh.

Now they find themselves in a must-win situation against the West Indies on Thursday. India will be hoping they aren't in that situation come Sunday.