July 07, 2020
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...And One More Time For Azza's Boys

So you think Azhar's Angels can't do what Kapil's Devils did? You've got another think coming.

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...And One More Time For Azza's Boys
Sick of smug friends who say, "It’s South Africa or Australia"? Switched off by safety-first TV experts who say, "The better team of the day will win"? Bored of know-all newspaper pundits who can’t stop writing about cold weather, body language, killer instinct, fielding and fitness? Disgusted with two-dimensional cricket ratings that don’t give India half a hope at Lord’s?

Take heart. Outlook bravely predicts that India will win the ’99 World Cup. Yes, we know it’s a bit like saying Mr Govindbhai Ahuja of Virar (W) will walk away with an Academy Award for Aunty No. 1. But what guts/genius does it take to predict that Robert de Niro stands a better chance? In other words, buck the trend and take a risk in the name of the mother republic.

Remember, if everybody is so sure that "It’s South Africa or Australia" they wouldn’t have had to stage a 42-day tournament with 12 nations in the running. Remember, cricket’s a funny sport; a game of "glorious uncertainties" where anything can happen—and usually does. Remember Sir Richard Hadlee who said that Sri Lanka would win the ’96 World Cup?

Remember Nineteen Eighty-Three?

And listen to this. In spite of all the warts and weaknesses of Mohammed Azharuddin and his men, in spite of being in the "Group of Death" alongside South Africa, England, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Kenya, and in spite of losing just about everything everywhere except the toss lately (just 50 wins in 119 one-day games since the ’96 World Cup), there’s still a buzz about them...

  • "Only South Africa—or, in certain conditions, India—would start the World Cup with a better chance than Australia," says Christopher Martin-Jenkins of The Times, London.
  • An April 22-30 poll on the cricket website "cricinfo" (www.cricinfo.org) saw India emerge favourites to take the Cup (35%: 3,680 votes), more than South Africa (23%: 2,387 votes) and Australia (7%: 754 votes) put together.
  • "On territory familiar for many of their players...India is arguably best equipped to exploit English conditions," say Steve Pearce and Bill Day of Wisden. And...
  • Bookies who had initially dismissed India as an "underdog" have revised their opinion to dub the team a "dark horse" and "Azhar’s Angels" are 12-1 favourites to take a semi-final berth with South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.
  • So, where does the confidence that we will turn the tables stem from? Herewith please find 11 reasons. If we do it, spread the word. If we don’t, see the CricInfo poll.

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