Harsha Bhogle

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Castrol Index shows how closely the Irish ran India

India's victory over Ireland in Bangalore shows
how far the popular, and tough, Irish have come in the ICC Cricket World Cup
2011.

 

Two weeks ago, this game would have been
regarded as a pushover, as a gentle walk in the park, as two points in the
bank. As it turned out, the two points arrived but as the Castrol Index worms
constantly kept telling us, there were moments when we couldn't be sure. That
is not only a tribute to the challengers but also an indictment of India's
position.

 

When India lost Sachin Tendulkar and Virat
Kohli fairly quickly together, you will see the worms fairly interlocked. That
is a fair assessment because the track was slow, the Irish were handling what
seemed like thin resources pretty well and India was really an accident away
from being in trouble. The final result suggests a relatively easy win but that
is the result of a ferocious assault by Yusuf Pathan; it was more difficult
than that.

 

And yet, while that shows up bowling and
fielding weaknesses, it might be the kind of game India needed to test
themselves ahead of more difficult matches. India now knows that playing Piyush
Chawla as one of four bowlers is a luxury, that without Yuvraj Singh chipping
in, the bowling is looking very thin and that Yuvraj can only do so on a
surface where the ball stops and turns.

 

India's decision to chase could also be seen as
an attempt to cover up a weakness by putting pressure on your strength. Since
MS Dhoni doesn't seem very confident of his bowlers defending a score, he had
to bat second rather than put up a score which might be the way to go in crunch
games.

 

I will be very surprised if a quiet word hasn’t
gone around to the right people in Chennai and Nagpur, and indeed in Ahmedabad,
to leave the tracks a little drier than they might have. And I will be
surprised if R Ashwin doesn’t get a game down the line.

 

India is in no danger of missing a quarterfinal date but the bowling might have to do more for further progress.

 

Harsha Bhogle, is writing in his role as a Castrol Index spokesperson.

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