Dhoni says it is easier to win by 20 runs than chase a total in 17.4 overs. What!? How? At least that faulty assessment of his has led him to opt to bat.
Doesn’t take long for DK to show his class and Gambhir shows some aggression. 8 from 1.
Touch and run boys, just remember to ground the bat. Would it be asking too much if I asked you to remember to hit some boundaries as well? 11 from 2.
Down the track and up over midwicket, DK off to an impressive start. Sanga up to the stumps, in line to drop 2 in an over? Gambhir stays back and hoicks one, one gets a feeling its unfair to expect Gambhir to run well. 19 from 3.
Shastri calls Gambhir’s running pathetic, Gambhir lets his bat do the talking. He gets 6 from 2 but still Shastri is miffed by Gambhir’s indifference towards grounding the bat. For all that complaining, they are off to a flier. 29 from 4.
The slinger breaks through, the impressive DK goes. Raina the make-or-break guy comes in. Gambhir upper cuts and the over turns into a decent one. 35 from 5.
Raina shows he can play the short pitched stuff even with his eyes closed! “In your face, you doubters”, he seems to be saying. Basking in the victory over his doubters, Raina gets a 4, a 2, a wide, a 4, and another 4. 52 from 6.
By now you know what happens when Raina comes on strike, FOUR more. Asian teams and their sloppy fielding, ruins the game for me. 65 from 7.
One thing the Asians do well, bowl and play spin. Randiv comes into the attack. Tight stuff, restricted to nudges. 71 from 8.
The milking continues 2,1,1,2,wide,1,1 and the 50 run partnership comes up in just 29 balls. Good stuff. 80 from 9.
Nothing much going on, Indians being ruthlessly efficient. Snap the streak breaks and it’s that man Raina again, swept away for a 4. 90 from 10.
200 would be expecting too much? The ingenious Gambhir shows how to steal a single. 96 from 11. T2o is interesting? It’s pure drudgery right now.
Gambhir gets tired of all that drudgery, Slinger takes advantage. Captain Courageous aka Captain Charming strides out menacingly. An over goes by. 98 from 12.
The useless Sanath has the ball. Time to up the tempo, surely. Dhoni isn’t dumb, he knows that, he attacks and gets a 6! 110 from 13.
Slog sweep! Raina! Six!. Stumping! Sanga! miss! 119 from 14.
Require 80 from 6, can they? Raina gets his 50 in 37, he’s doing it. 126 from 15.
Need some boundaries, score’s moving smoothly but not much to get excited about. Yes! Raina, Four. Malinga will be looking to make it 3 of 3. Guess what, he can’t. The Chennai boys stand firm. 134 from 16.
44 in the last 6. Not enough. Dhoni’s too good a batsman to premeditate, I’m sure he knows that. Still can’t find the gaps, worrisome. 139 from 17.
Fan speak: “Dear Team India, hit boundaries and sixes. What are you saving eight wickets for? Beti ki shaadi?”, “Why is flying fuck is someone like MS Dhoni playing that pansy-ass pussy scoop shot when he can murder them over long on”
Raina obediently heeds the advice, gets a four and then gets out. 63(47) his contribution. An out of form and out of shape Yuvi comes in. Yuvi goes as well, poor cricket from India. 147 from 18. (57 from last 8)
A streaky four for Yusuf but still only 5 from 4, a couple of couples make it 9 from 6. 156 from 19. (66 from last 9)
Need at least 170 here. Yusuf thinks so too, gets a mistimed boundary. Funnily, he lets the next one go. A sorry end to the over and indeed the innings as they wind up at 163/5. (73 from last 10)
163 looks a winning total but 143, not so much.
Fan Speak: India’s batting has been the equivalent of a camera suddenly focusing on Condoleeza Rice’s sexy legs, and then panning upwards.
Excellent start for team India. Yusuf takes a smart catch to send the in-form Mahela packing. 5 from 1.
One would think there would be RCB’s batsmen in the team before the bowlers. Anyway, Vinay into the attack. The useless Sanath lives up to his name. 2 down. 6 from 2.
Will the Indian bowlers help Dilshan regain his lost touch? 2 fours will help. Where’s the slip for the left arm bowler? Make that 3 fours to Dilshan. 19 from 3.
The I-won’t-give-runs-and-I-won’t-take-wickets Bhajji into the attack. With Dilshan on strike, something had to give. 13 runs to be precise. 32 from 4.
Yuvi makes it a point to remind us how poor a fielder he is nowadays, or maybe it was just a ploy to get Dilshan off the strike. Sucker-punch from Sanga as he gets a four. 37 from 5.
Yusuf keeps it tidy and uneventful. 41 from 6.
A few mis-fields and a boundary for Sanga in that over. 47 from 7.
Dilshan hits it well but straight down the fielder’s throat. 3 down. SF dream alive. 50 from 8.
Piyush Chawla in, probably the 3rd best Indian T20 spin bowler after Ojha and Mishra. Excellent over nonetheless. 52 from 9.
Bhajji keeps it tight as well. Forget 20, they look good to win by 40. 58 from 10.
A desperate slog-sweep, Matthews hits Chawla for a 6. Not too bad an over though. 67 from 11.
Sanga pulls Bhajji for a six! Lanka going after 163? Bad time for Bhajji to concede runs. 78 from 12.
What can Yuvi do? Can he radiate awesomeness and blind the Lankans like a UV ray? Awesome stop by DK, DK should always be in the playing XI in my opinion. 84 from 13.
Sanga’s turning it on, Yusuf concedes two sixes. 100 from 14.
43 from 6 and it’s bye bye India. 42 in the last 4. It’s going all wrong for India, 4 off the first Vinay ball. The Bengaluru boy hits back, Sanga’s bowled for 46. 4 down. 107 from 15.
An out-of -sorts Bhajji does well to keep it down to just 5. He finishes the tournament(?) with no wickets. 112 from 16.
Good start by Nehra but nothing like a four to ruin all the good work, Kapugedara the batsman. Dhoni gets to it but can’t cling on. Catch drop. Matthews pulls one to the boundary as well. 123 from 17.
Fan speak: “If Sri Lanka lose from here, they can go straight to South Africa, and stay there”. “That was dumb from Nehra – can never trust a Dilliwalla under pressure”.
It will be a miracle if Lanka fail to get 21 off the last 3. Matthews does it easy, four again. Another four to end the over. Chawla goes for 11. 134 from 18.
That’s it, India is out of the WC. Can they at least win a game in the 2nd round? Even last year, they lost all 3 of their matches. Back to back sixes to end the over. 151 from 19.
13 off the last over and Indians aren’t nervous a bit. Understandable. This is incredible stuff from the islanders, six again. 18 scored off the last 3 balls. The run-out has tilted the scales. 3 off 1. A super over in the offing? West Indians are more nervous than the Indians. Ho ho ho! Kapugedera hits the last ball for a six. What a ripping match it would’ve been hadn’t India been knocked out in the 19th over?. 167 from 20. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a match settled by a last ball six?
Fan speak: “Good show India. Perhaps you won’t win a match till 4 foreign players are allowed/bought”.
SF line-up: Sri Lanka vs England, Pakistan vs Australia
Hoping for a Australia vs England final.