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In tatters, India face disaster

Will we or will we not? That is the question uppermost in the minds of all those who love India and love their cricket, writes Pradeep Magazine.
None | By Pradeep Magazine
UPDATED ON MAR 22, 2007 01:17 AM IST

Will we or will we not? That is the question uppermost in the minds of all those who love India and love their cricket. Back home, we may be speculating about run-rates, and some of the more zealous fans may have even gone to the extent of thinking that after the Bermuda win, we are favourites to win the World Cup, but the truth is, beating Sri Lanka in the final group match will not be easy.

The team knows it and all those who have seen them play the two matches here know it. What is disturbing is the body language of the players, especially the seniors. Even against Bermuda, when India were fielding and the last two batsmen were making life difficult for the bowlers, there was no urgency, not intensity visible in the field. Everyone wondered if something was wrong.

In the team hotel lobby on Tuesday evening, the players, swamped by fans, did appear somewhat tense. Increasingly, a majority of us following India here think that the team appears extremely disjointed. What is needed at the moment is for the think-tank to get the team together, make everyone feel they belong — and that includes a couple of seniors as well. The stakes are too high. Not just for the players, for everyone, the Indian Board, the sponsors and the genuine fan.

A win or loss is part of any sport and skipper Dravid put it so beautifully on the eve of India's first match — that what is most important is that "we play according to our expectations and give our best". That is what India would want them to do against Sri Lanka.

That is why there is a need that the big three — Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly — join hands in this hour of crisis and convey to the juniors that "we can do it".

It is one thing to give lengthy speeches and talk about the strength of the mind and other such things. But one must remember that at the end of the day, cricket is a simple game and to win, you not only need to play well but also believe in yourself and the team. In these two days left before the crucial game against Lanka, Dravid and Greg Chappell have their task cut out.

Dravid, the urbane, thinking man is the one who needs to take the initiative and act like a statesman. One wrong step can lead to utter disaster. He should be well aware that history can be a very cruel judge of the past and even unforgiving.

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