Archive for the ‘bangladesh’ Category

There has been a lot of talk, rumors if you will, about how India is ready to take battle into the boundaries of Pakistan. How, if necessary, we are ready to wage war also.

As long as it is rhetoric, it is fine. But could it actually move from talk to action? Should Pakistan call India’s bluff, do we have it in us, to press the W button? I have my serious doubts.

I have no doubts on the capabilities of our armed forces. Irrespective of corruption charges in the Defense purchases, I still believe that we have enough fire power, guts and numbers, to take on Pakistan in battle, if we had to.

But for any war, there is one most crucial element, and which is the Commander in Chief. You need a strong person at the top, to commandeer and army into war. Someone who is aggressive and smart, someone who can motivate, someone who does not worry about petty politics and votebanks, but has a clear eye on the best interests of the country. Someone who, if required, can go and stand with the jawans, in the trenches, and without his Z+ security tagging along!

Do we have anyone of that stature at this time? Do we even have a Commander-in-Chief?

I can trust Dr. Manmohan Singh, our PM, to go and battle in the boardrooms of the World Bank, or position India at Davos, or pitch for investments to heads of states of G8 countries. But can he command our forces in a war?? I don’t think so, really.

Defense Minister A K Anthony who has been meeting the Defense heads? External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has been making the loudest official noise regarding war? Nah..! These guys are politicians to the core. Also they are not politicians with charisma that can make the country follow them. I cannot imagine either of them coming on TV or at the Red Fort, and goading the country and countrymen, with anything like a “jai jawaan, jai kisaan”, or a “ask what you can do for the country…”, or a “har har mahadev”.. ! Nah.. these chappies can negotiate with Sharad Pawar or Mamata Banerjee or Jyoti Basu, for poll alliances and the like, but commanding the forces in war.. no, I will not put my money on these characters.

The official designated commander-in-chief, the President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patil? As someone who could lead us in war?? Ho..ho.. ho.. ho.. Laughable to even think about it, right? On the other hand, a scary thought, that if we are pushed into war today, she would actually be the commander in chief! Oh My God.. ! We have a LOT to be worried about. Until this is resolved, I pray that there is no war..

One of the commanders of the defense forces? The Army or Navy or the Air Force? I am not sure how well the Chief of Integrated Defense Staff has been working in India now. But the potential of this Chief, being the commander-in-chief at wartime, appears to be the best option for India. The hiccup to this being the fact that in India, politics has always been supreme over the Defense forces, and it is unlikely to change in a hurry. So getting the Chief of Defense Staff to take over the overall reins of decision making and leading the country in war, looks like a remote possibility.

We had stronger leaders during war time in the past. Indira Gandhi, whatever be her other problems, was a strong woman, and one who could lead from the front. One who could fire the public imagination, and motivate the armed forces, with a strong speech from the Red Fort. The country was behind her in the 1971 Bangladesh Freedom war.

War was thrust on India, during the Kargil confrontation. It was still a conflict that was restricted to the location there, and did not become an open war, with no holds barred. Still war it was. Again, the Defense Minster then, George Fernandes, with all his other faults, was a courageous man. A union leader, he could again fire up the people, did not hesitate to go to the trenches when required, and was a suitable commander of sorts, at that time.

But at this time, we lack a serious commander in chief! No, this is not the right time to go to war – if only for this one reason!!

There have been a lot of knee-jerk developments in the Indian cricket scene, post the World Cup fracas. While the new policies of the BCCI appear to be very constructive, and I quite like them, the selections of the two teams to visit Bangladesh, leaves a lot to be desired.

First of all, Shashtri goes on record to state that he is going to be a manager, just for this tour. Like a Bangladesh tour was so critical. We have a stop-gap manager of sorts, it appears.

Then, as far as the team goes, I am not seeing a clear logic. Just that few older heads are out of the ODI squad, and some new names are being tried out. Under Dravid’s captaincy.

What is the exact long term focus?
Why is Sehwag still there in the ODI team?
Is Piyush Chawla good for ODIs and not good for test cricket?
Why would you blood a young leg spinner in the slap-dash game of ODIs, but not give him a chance to learn in the longer test cricket?

Also it looked a big mess – whether the selection was driven by BCCI diktats, or the selectors had a role to play. Shows a sense of desperation and cluelessness…

None of the ruckus would have happened.
In Indian cricketing world, in the Indian media, with the BCCI, amongst the players, etc.
If only the Bangladesh – South Africa game had happened earlier.. !

The Indian team crashed out of the World Cup, because they lost to Bangladesh. The world (well, the billion Indians at least) was shocked because India lost to Bangladesh. “How can they lose to lowly Bangladesh?”, the world asked!

If Indian had beaten Bangladesh and then lost to Sri Lanka (which was always possible, and could have been acceptable too), India would have still made it to the Super 8 stage, lost their badly, and then returned home. The noise levels would have been lower, the advertisers and sponsors would have enjoyed a few weeks more of television viewership, and a general stability would have prevailed.

But that did not happen, and the floodgates of criticism were opened.

Because of the fundamental question, “How could India lose to Bangladesh?”

Things would have been different though, if Bangladesh had met South Africa earlier and beaten South Africa, as they did yesterday.

THEN, the scenario changes dramatically.
Bangladesh is a great cricket team. One that can beat the number one team in the world rankings, South Africa. They are a turnaround team, a champion team. Etc.

Now, after that, if India lost of Bangladesh, it would not matter. After all, if the top team in the world, South Africa, can lose to Bangladesh, then its not such a bad thing for India to lose to them now, is it?

But fate had it otherwise, and the India-Bangladesh game happened a lot earlier, and all the worst things that had to happen for the Indian players, the BCCI, the media, the sponsors, the advertisers, etc., there was ample time for all of that to happen!

Oh well..

What a great giant killer performance by Bangladesh.
And as for South Africa, with everything going for them, they are still going to find a way to lose. Australia-Sri Lanka final, is my tip now!

1. Sri Lanka must beat Bangladesh
(remember, in EITHER case, India has to beat Sri Lanka, so it does not get any easier for us, if Bangladesh beats Sri Lanka; it is only better for us if Bangladesh beats Sri Lanka – read on to find out why).

Necessarily that will only improve Sri Lanka’s net run rate and put them further ahead. REMEMBER that we talk of NET run rate. So even if both teams fire, the net improvement in NRR is only to the extent of the difference in the two teams. In short, Bangladesh’s NRR will go down a bit, thereafter.

2. India beats Sri Lanka, by JUST ENOUGH to see them through to the top of the NRR, and also ensure that way, that Sri Lanka’s NRR does not drop a lot, in the process. Again, repeat, that we HAVE to beat Sri Lanka, to have any chance. There is no escaping that fact.

3. Now, before Bangladesh take on Bermuda, they will have India and Sri Lanka a fair bit ahead of them, in the NRR, and if they have to come up ahead of the (assuming) second placed Sri Lanka, they will need to win by a huge margin, against Bermuda. That may not be so easy, and hence India and Sri Lanka will go ahead to the Super 8, in number 1 and 2 positions respectively.

Understand now also, what happens when teams get into Super 8.
Off the two teams going from each group, one of them would have beaten the other. For example, if India and Sri Lanka go, as per the above surmise, then India would have beaten Sri Lanka, in the group. In that case, at the start of the Super 8, that winning team (e.g. India) starts with 2 points, and the other team (e.g. Sri Lanka) starts with 0 points.

If India and Bangaldesh go, then it will be Bangladesh who would go with 2, and India with 0. So you see why it is important for India and Sri Lanka to go rather than India and Bangladesh (now you can see why in point number 1 above, I propose that Sri Lanka win today, and not Bangladesh).

One more interesting point. In the Super 8, all teams play all the rest of the super 8 teams, EXCEPT for their own group team (since they have already played each other in the first round). There will already be one ‘minnow’ (if you can still call them thus) team in the Super 8, viz. Ireland. Now if Bangladesh were to also make it into the super 8 instead of Sri Lanka, then think of it this way:
Say, New Zealand and South Africa emerge as their group leaders and hence start with 2 points each. They will be playing both, Ireland and Bangladesh in the Super 8 then, and they should win those games rather easily (with no disrespect to Ireland and Bangladesh). They will zoom in to 6 points without much sweat then. That would put so much more pressure on teams like India to catch up and get to the semi-finals, then.

On the other hand, if Sri Lanka and India make it, then it will only be an Ireland, who will be like a ‘weaker’ team in the Super 8, and the Super 8 will remain more open, with most teams having a chance to proceed into the last 4 stage.

Now you see, why the above mentioned points 1, 2 and 3, are what should happen now, from an Indian perspective… or even from a Sri Lankan perspective, for that matter.

So the first night of full match watching that I could afford, as it was the weekend, turned out to be a nightmare, to say the least 😦

Here are my stray thoughts on the day of debacle, for India and Pakistan:

1. What can I say about India’s loss against Bangladesh?

Yes, ‘nothing’. I am dumb founded.

2. Pakistan is out of the world cup. So much for the convenient 2 big, 2 minnow groups, to supposedly serve as more practise games for the big guys. The quickest big team exit. Quite unbelievable.

3. Refer my earlier posts about the bigger teams who should be asserting themselves stronger against the smaller ones. Now after the Saturday night, I wonder if there is really that much of a difference between the so called minnows and the big guys. Its like the tennis tournaments now. Yes, the top seeds are potentially far better, but if they take anything casually, they could well be upset. Happens all the time in tennis and now we see the same in cricket too.

4. India has it all uphill from now. They need to win both the games, against Bermude and Sri Lanka. And YET, they may not be sure to make it to the next round. Bangladesh will have their second win against Bermuda, and Sri Lanka should manage to beat Bangladesh, to add to their Bermuda victory. If India wins both, that will still leave 3 teams with 2 wins each, and a tie breaker of sorts will decide the top two teams, to go to the next round. Never easy for anyone to predict the final two from the group.

Of course, winning against Sri Lanka itself will be a huge effort, coming as it will against the backdrop of this loss against Bangladesh, with the huge expectations of the billion people from India, and the psychological impact of all these put together. I wouldn’t want to be in Dravid’s shoes at this time.

5. So lets imagine the scenario should India also get hustled out in the first round itself.
How will the sponsors survive? They who depend solely on the Indian viewership, will have a huge loss on their hands.
I am sure the viewership in India will drop by at least 50%.
The big bucks that Hutch and Hero Honda and Pepsi, not to speak of Sony Entertainment, have put behind the event – how will they get their ROI??
Will some of them renege their contracts and pay the penalty, but get out quickly, cutting their losses? 🙂
I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of these sponsors as well.

6. Will there be some or the ‘other’ kind of lobbying going on, at this time, from the sponsors end, to see how they can ‘ensure’ that India makes it to the next round?

Ohh.. the scenario is tough to imagine. All the hype surrounding the event, all the media packages waiting to be unleashed as the rounds progress (I believe that the media and advertising hype has been a little subdued so far, just to ensure against consumer fatigue, since its a long tournament; now will it be long at all, for Indian fans??), will they remain in the cans and not see the light of the day?

Tough calls. We will see the picture emerge in the next few days now..!