The complex nature of the game substantiates the claim that ‘cricket is an unpredictable sport’. There are no permanent champions, and no team is truly invincible though they may appear so on the outset of a tournament. After a string of convincing victories, India stands tall and mighty, waiting to breathe fire down on any team that dares to challenge them.
But this is where the unpredictability quotient comes into play. Taking into account the rawness and the inexperience of the side, they cannot be claimed as the masters of the game, not even champions, though they were formally anointed thus only a couple of days back. You might call me a pessimist and a cynic, but I’m merely considering the stats and the fact that India are no more than rookies who have punched above their weight in the last few days.
This tri-series would have its punchline as – “Beat India, and exact your revenge!” for the kind of treatment both Sri Lanka and West Indies received at the hands of India at the recently concluded Champions trophy. That would be a near impossible task for both the teams despite India not being truly invincible. I might be contradicting my earlier statement, but as they stand, India is the team in great form and thus the team to beat. Therefore, Sri Lanka and West Indies would have a mighty task on their hands in this series.
This competition would derive fans’ interest from the fact that two of the teams are World cup finalists, and the home team is the current T20 World Cup champions. That lends a new dimension to the tournament as no team can be counted out till the last round-robin match is played.
Since the series is happening in West Indies, the teams could be called evenly balanced, for each team has the necessary variety of players suited for these conditions. In West Indies, one can expect pitches that assist spin bowling, and that is a factor that would draw added speculations about the team that would come out triumphs, since each team has a decent spinner among their ranks and a good day for them would mean the same for their respective teams.
The seamers are not far behind. In West Indies they say “for every ball you bend your back, you will get your reward!”, which should lift the hearts of the seamers who would have enjoyed bowling in England only a few days ago and would have been let down by the sudden change in the pitch and conditions there.
Every match may make for an interesting finish considering the evenly balanced squads. Even as they square up against each other, each team has different points to prove to their critics, tasks that they would have set for themselves. The obvious one would be to win the cup, but each team is fresh and raw and they have a lot of team building to do. On that regard, I am listing out the key expectations by a fan from each team:
West Indies (Pride): It is a pretty straightforward answer since they play at home. West Indian cricket has been dwindling since the late nineties with the lack of consistency plaguing them for quite some time now. There are a lot of changes in the team set up and the new skipper would be anxious to prove his mettle. West Indies have not won a series against a top team for quite some time, and this could be the right time to set the records straight. They have nothing to lose frankly and one can expect them to attack with their complete arsenal as they have nothing to fight for but pride.
Sri Lanka (Revenge): It was the year 2008. After successfully bagging the Test series, Sri Lanka was up against Dhoni’s young brigade in an ODI series. People expected Sri Lanka to win the series hands down as most of the seniors from the Indian contingent were either dropped or injured. But Dhoni had other ideas as he and a handful of youngsters emerged triumphed against the Lankan lions, bagging the series 3-2. From then onwards, India has never given breathing space for the Lankans when it comes to a fifty over game. Be it the spectacular World cup final or the recent humiliation in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka have had it rough against India.
Therefore, it is time they would have decided enough is enough and would want to beat India and prove that they are no pushovers. Both the teams would know each other in and out as they constantly compete with each other. Therefore, the cards are out in the open and Sri Lanka would want to exact revenge for the kind of treatment they have been receiving at the hands of India. For them revenge against India would mean more than the cup!
India (Glory): The Indian cricket team is on a roll. After a successful ODI series against England and the Test series white wash against Australia, India have continued the momentum by winning the coveted Champions Trophy. With the form that they are in, they would consider the tri-series to be like a walk on the park, yet they should be wary of the opponents and complete the tasks successfully so as to continue with the winning momentum. The likes of Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina would be eager to prove their mettle to fancy their chances on the tour to South Africa. Therefore, India would be aiming more glory as they take the field on Friday.
The teams are evenly set, and though India is in great form, it is tough to predict the definite winner of this series. But what one can definitely expect is the hard battles, tight finishes and the pleasant West Indies flavor in hot and sunny conditions!