Bruised India hope for a miracle

Victory against Sri Lanka a must for Dhonis boys to keep their semi hopes alive

Bruised India hope for a miracle

No escape routes: Peppered by short-pitched balls at Barbados, Indian batsmen will breathe  easy when they face Sri Lanka at the less bouncy St Lucia on Tuesday. AFP

After their second loss of the Super Eights against the West Indies on Sunday, India might have stayed glued to their television sets watching Australia systematical dismantling of Sri Lanka in the second match. MS Dhoni’s boys needed Australia not only to beat Sri Lanka but beat them by a huge margin and an 81-run defeat is as big a win as you can manage in a T20 match.

To that extent Australia and Sri Lanka have done their best to keep India’s hopes of qualifying for the World T20 semifinals alive. India now need one more favour from Australia, the team from Down Under needs to beat the West Indies in their last match of Group F by the narrowest of margins and the way Australia are playing at the moment, there is little to suggest that it’s not a possibility.

But before that India’s job is clear cut; win against Sri Lanka. All they need to ensure is that they beat Lanka by at least 20 runs if they bat first, or with 2.1 to three overs to spare if they bat second. In such a scenario India will be ahead of both Lanka and Windies on nett run-rate.

“It’s too much to ask for,” was Dhoni’s reply when he was asked if he still thought the team can make it to the last four stage after its loss to the West Indies on Sunday. But the Jharkhandi might have been pleasantly surprised to see the way Australia walloped Lanka later in the day.   

After their dominant show in the first phase, India appeared like a cat on the hot tin roof on the bouncy Kensington Oval tracks. The pitch wasn’t ferociously quick, but it was enough for both Australia and the West Indies to expose India’s weakness against the short-pitched balls.

If Indian batsmen were uncomfortable against the rising ball, Dhoni was groping for reasons to explain his team’s problems with bouncers. All Dhoni could offer was that the team needed more international experience to tackle the challenge. “It’s not easy but as the players get more experience at international level they will groom themselves and be ready for the task. Quite a few players, I don’t think, have played this kind of bowling on this kind of track, we were slightly on the back foot but it’s only good for Indian cricket,” he explained.

West Indies skipper Chris Gayle, who struck a blistering 98, felt it’s more of a mental issue than a technical one. “They are always going to be vulnerable against the short-pitched ball,” said Gayle who had made it clear that short balls were going to be his main weapon against Indian batsmen.

“Every team has done it against them and it’s something they have to look at and try to prepare better. They know that every team would bowl short at them so they just need to work on their mental game and back themselves. They are capable of handling it but maybe it is just a mental thing so if they can overcome that I’m sure they'll be even more dangerous.”

India’s woes were typified by the way Gautam Gambhir got out. The ICC’s No 1 Test batsman not so long ago, the left-hander was bounced out when he got a jaffa of a delivery from Kemar Roach, his second successive dismissal in that manner.

India, however, will be relieved that they will be playing their final match on the slowish Gros Islet wicket where they should feel far more comfortable. But make no mistake, Kumar Sangakkara and Co will not be an easy meal.

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