Sunday, 27 February 2011

India v England - not really a preview

Pre Thatcher batting style
When India met England in the 1975 World Cup Sunil Gavaskar infamously blocked his way to 36 not out off 174 balls.  India scored just 132 for 3 and lost by 202 runs.  In 1975 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency suspending civil liberties and elections. That was unrelated to Gavaskar's innings, but who knows what emergency measures might be necessary if England prevail in 2011. 1975 was also the year that Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath for the leadership of the UK Conservative Party and Mrs T certainly upped the run rate.

India v England is the biggest game of the tournament so far.  Having been whipped to a pulp by the local rozzers in the pursuit of tickets earlier in the week, Indian supporters will whip themselves to a frenzy demanding a performance from their team.   The possibility of a constitutional crisis apart, FB finds this a hard one to call.  India's recent record against England in India is overwhelming.  On that basis, England needn't bother turning up, so dominant have the home side been.  But this is the first test of India under the extreme pressure of the home supporters and while FB can't see such an experienced side coming unstuck, you just never know.  Home advantage didn't help Sri Lanka yesterday.

So far, both sides seem to bat stronger than they bowl.  England will want to forget about their performance with the ball against Netherlands.  And Sreesanth in particular will want to do better than his wayward offering against Bangladesh.  But the Bangalore wicket is said to be juicy following heavy rain during the week, so England's seamers might get some joy. There is even speculation that Messrs Duckworth and Lewis could be brought into play for the first time in the tournament.   (See this link for FB's account of the origin of the method). These little factors could even the balance.  FB is predicting a big one from KP - it's his kind of situation - he may even bat well too.  And India may have to use more batters than they did last week, but they'll do it.

Pride of Scotland
To revert to 1975: the Bay City Rollers, possibly Scotland's greatest contribution to world culture after Rabbie Burns and David Hume, were riding high.  In those days of course there was not the idiocy of playing pop tunes as batsmen go to and from the wicket as is the case now.  Otherwise that evergreen classic Bye Bye Baby would surely have been played at every fall of wicket or every 6 dispatched into the crowd (not that 6s were such a prominent feature in those days).  Had the crowds back then known what they were missing -  they would have been hugely relieved.  To hear it once every 30 years is enough for this musical masterpiece - 3 or 4 times in an afternoon could have led to civil insurrection.  Then Mrs Ghandi's actions would have been understandable.

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