India, the world champions, are on the brink in the Asia Cup. Their final match of the league stage against arch rivals, Pakistan, will decide whether they stay on to play the finals or be on their way back to India earlier than anticipated, just like in Australia where too they were expected to be in the finals of the tri-series.
In one of their greatest wins in one-day internationals the home team Bangladesh got past an imposing total that India had put up, and won with plenty to spare. Once again the benefit of a good solid start was seen when the Bangladesh top order kept wickets intact, and built a platform for the stroke makers down the order to come in and blast the bowling.
Yes, at one time it looked that the top order had been a bit too cautious, but it all paid off in the end when their skipper, Mushfiqur smashed some huge sixes to narrow the asking rate and win the match for his team. Even against Pakistan, the Bangladeshis had made a spirited effort but fell short, but then Pakistan definitely has a better bowling attack than the Indians and that's why Bangladesh were able to get more runs than they were asked to get against Pakistan.
It is always tough for the home team to chase simply because the pressure increases with every quiet over played out while going after even a modest score. That is why it was thought that Mushfiqur would bat first this time, but he did exactly what he did against Pakistan and fielded first. More columns
It gave Sachin Tendulkar the chance to make use of one of the best batting surfaces in the world and get his hundredth hundred, a truly incredible feat and one which will not be emulated by anybody else. With Kohli carrying on his good form and Raina revelling in the situation of having to go out and throw his bat at everything, India were able to get near 300.
As it turned out that was not enough, and India now have to rethink their strategy in the vital match against Pakistan.
Pakistan have the best attack in the competition. Their three spinners have an economy rate of less than 4.5 runs an over which is fantastic, and in Umar Gul they have one of the best death overs bowlers in the business, so it's not going to be easy for India to post the kind of totals that they have in the first couple of matches.
With the century drought broken, Tendulkar could well bat even better than he has and the feisty Gambhir will love the competitiveness that an Indo-Pak encounter brings.
India's problems have been the bowling and they may have to think in terms of going in with two specialist spinners and leave out a seamer, for on these flat surfaces the pace of the seamers is just right for the big hits as was seen in the match against Bangladesh. The spinner will slow the ball off the surface and could be harder to hit than the medium pacers.
India have been reluctant, perhaps even stubborn in making changes to their playing eleven, but in the situation they are in they need to be flexible in their thinking and attitude, else they could be on the early flight home.Professional Management Group