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With four games scheduled in ten days, Team India’s resilience set to be tested

With four games scheduled in ten days, Team India’s resilience set to be tested

WORLD CUP

MANCHESTER: A World Cup is to a team what a Grand Slam is to a tennis player who has to go past seven opponents over two weeks to emerge champion. And the matches are all five-setters. Other than being a test of skill, it’s also an examination of endurance and lasting power.

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The journey to the pinnacle of world cricket is long and winding. At about the halfway stage, India are well placed for a semifinal spot. But a busy, and potentially rocky, period is coming up for the Men in Blue.

Having started the tournament later than every other team, India now play four league games in 10 days, starting with the clash against West Indies here on Thursday. India then take on England on June 30 and Bangladesh on July 2, both in Birmingham, before finishing off league engagements against Sri Lanka at Leeds on July 6.

The scare against Afghanistan apart, India have been very professional in their approach and have played with authority. But as the World Cup has shown, the road has potholes too. The four remaining games will throw different challenges at India but first they have to take care of West Indies. The Calypso Kings have yet again exasperated their fans around the world with their self-destructive ways. They have lost close games but what must have hurt them more has been their profligate ways, so typically Caribbean. But they have players who, on their day, can single-handedly singe an opponent with a brilliant show.

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The Afghanistan game was a wake-up call for India, who were coasting along nicely till then. The middle-order failed to deliver yet again and KL Rahul was unconvincing at the top of the order. The best thing was that the hiccup came against a team which did not have the resources to go for the kill. Else, those two points were gone for good.

On the same pitch at Hampshire Bowl, Bangladesh managed to reach 262/7 on Monday against Afghanistan, a total which looked par for the course even during the India match. But the Men in Blue could gather no more than 224.

The loss of Shikhar Dhawan is proving to be a bigger blow than it looked initially. The left-hander, besides being a proven performer in ICC tournaments, is adept at disturbing the rhythm of a bowler with his wristy strokeplay and constant shuffling at the crease. And he is equally good against pace and spin.
What has been heartening, though, has been India’s performance in the other two departments in the field. Traditionally a batting power, India have excelled with the ball and in the field. The bowlers have been on the ball and have been superbly supported by athletic fielding and virtually error-free catching.
Fielding was one area where India always lacked and often lost close games because of lapses in the field. Thanks to the team management’s emphasis on fitness and athletic ability, this bunch is demonstrating a competence it can be proud of. A dropped catch or a missed run-out chance can decide who wins and who loses. Remember Herschelle Gibbs dropping Steve Waugh in the 1999 World Cup? The reprieve allowed Australia to stay in the tournament and ultimately win it.
It’s going to be a taxing 10 days for the Indian team before the knockouts. The team, which had a day off on Monday, will have a training session on Tuesday.
Source : timesofindia

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