So much for the minnows
As far as defeats go, the two great upsets in the ongoing World Cup in the West Indies will be remembered — and will be reminded — for a long while. With Pakistan tossed out of the tournament by an unknown Ireland team on Saturday, an additional shudder has been added to the one that India felt on the same day after it was crushed by a Bangladeshi side. One thing has been made clear by the so-called minnows: reputations mean little when compared to the performance of the day. Instead of quaking in their collective boots while facing a team with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, M.S. Dhoni — and Virender Sehwag — in its batting line-up, Habibul Bashar’s boys simply disposed of them.
While the ease with which Bangladesh dismissed the ‘Great Batting Line-up’ may have been largely contributed by the Indian batsmen underestimating their opponents, what should be really worrying for India is the way they bowled. If there was a ‘let’s get serious now’ attitude when the Indian side came to field, it certainly didn’t show — or, even more terrifyingly, didn’t matter. For Bangladesh was simply better than the apocryphal 1983 world champions in every department of the game. While the subcontinental giants came crashing down — Pakistan actually crashing out of the World Cup — one returns to the much discussed issue of ‘minnows in the World Cup’. Chances are that such victories by Bangladesh — and especially Ireland — will still remain be an anomaly for at least some time. By defeating Australia in June 2005 in the NatWest series in Cardiff, Bangladesh didn’t start making a habit of giant-killing. But then, Bangladesh has improved by leaps and bounds, as was evident at the Queens’ Park Oval in Port-of-Spain on Saturday. It became quite clear at Sabina Park in Jamaica that Ireland, too, has the talent. By including teams that are minnows or are skipping out of ‘minnow-hood’ can only make their cricket better. And as Saturday’s two upsets went on to show, they can make big teams with big reputations at least wake up and smell the coffee. Great teams also lose matches. But what makes them less great is the way they lose — and, let’s be honest, to whom they lose.