England's Book of Thrillers - one win, four fates

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 18, 2011 14:13 hrs

​If England manages to reach the final of the current World Cup, then we are sure to have a few nervous breakdowns on the way. The latest chapter from England's Book of Thrillers happened on Thursday night at Chepauk Stadium in Chennai.

Had West Indies won, then the fate of four Test nations would have been decided at one shot. West Indies, India and Bangladesh would have made it to the quarters. England would have been eliminated. But that wouldn't have gone to script as Group B's roller coaster ride continues.

First, England was comfortable at 121-2. Then they were in trouble at 151-6. Then they recovered and could have crossed 260 when they were 238-8. Finally, they were 243 all down in the 49th over. Most would have put their money on the West Indies.

Ashwin must play on his home turf

But knowing the way their opponent's matches were going, the Windies would have known they were in for a tricky chase. Comfortable at 58-0, they collapsed just like England to become 150-6. But a great recovery took them to 222-6, a position from which they should have easily won. Instead an unexpected collapse took place and they were 225 all down.

This game seemed to have more twists and turns than the India-England tie. Captain Andrew Strauss must have nerves of steel by now. Commentators talked of this being the reason why most England Captains went bald!

Now only South Africa is sitting pretty. India, England, West Indies and Bangladesh: Any team could be kicked out.

If Bangladesh manages to beat South Africa, then many a heartbeats will go up during the India-Windies match, which will bring the curtains down on a really exciting group stage.

Group A, in contrast, has been a dead bore. Right from the beginning to the end, the top four ranked teams (Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand) have dominated, while the bottom 3 (Zimbabwe, Kenya, Canada) have hardly shown a fight.

Brickbats galore

While India is in a spot of bother and can be eliminated from the WC, it's not as bad as it sounds. First Bangladesh has to beat South Africa and then India has to lose to the Windies by 160 odd runs. The odds are firmly with India.

BCCI dismisses reports of Srikkanth-Dhoni meet over selection

But try telling that to most people. MS Dhoni finds himself in the eye of a storm. He seems to be doing nothing right from team selection and bowling changes to handling the UDRS and powerplay.

As a captain, Dhoni has not only won a world cup, but he has taken India to the ICC No. 1 rankings in both Tests and ODIs. But in the eyes of the fans and media, he begins every new series from scratch and is admonished soundly for every little slip.

With England, most of the action is happening on the field. With India, it's off the field.

Who would you win the WC for?

If you played in a World Cup, you would probably want to win it for your country and yourself. The two most important things. Or you might want to win it for your mother or coach or someone who got you this far.

Why would you want to win it primarily for another player in the team?

A section of the media is making out to as if Sachin Tendulkar is the only person who is interested in winning the World Cup for India and the rest are merely out to spoil his party.

For the record, this is Sachin's sixth WC attempt (very few people get that many chances) and he has more to prove than anything else.

In the current squad, Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Harhajan Singh and S Sreesanth already have a World Cup final victory under their belt. Others are playing in just their first or second WC.

World Cup 2011

In fact it was Sachin himself who failed to last even one over in the only WC final he played in 2003 against Australia.

Now, once a team reaches a final, any one of the 11 players have the potential to play a match-winning knock.

It is unfair to the other players to focus so much on one man only.

Having said that, one really hopes India can win this time as it would be a fitting end for Sachin's long and record-breaking career.  

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.