It sure is…30 days into the cricket world cup, we will now witness the real deal. The quarter finals are decided and India will be playing the not so mighty Aussies on the 24th Of March…National holiday anyone? Be there, glued to your TV screens wherever in the world you are; as they say “more power” to the men in blue, and you will all be needed to channel your energies for the game.

All in all, the eight teams expected to be in the quarters are eventually there. Some like England, have peaked with the better teams and proven their worth, while others like WI have gone in with no so many credentials having only beaten teams ranked below them. The fact is that each game in the quarters, given that its a knock out, will be a very different ball game. The pressure will be different because the stakes are the highest now.

Ah…i still cant believe that India is playing Australia in the quarters. In the game against the WI, when the opposition was almost running away with the games, eyebrows were raised on whether India did not want to face Australia in the quarters and hence are not performing to their fullest. Painful, as it was to watch WI dominate the game for the first half of their innings, frankly speaking Indian bowling has been pretty much the same all throughout this world cup. The problem I guess is with the mindset that a team ranked below us will not be able to beat us under any circumstance, a fact that was proven wrong by Bangladesh in the last world cup. So instead of doubting our team and our players, we should enjoy the game as it stands.

Coming back to the game against WI, i was quite keen on seeing India match up with the Australians. Come on now…An opportunity to knock the Aussies out of the world cup at an early stage has not come that often, and that too under home conditions. Of course, whats added fuel to the fire has been the Australia vs Pakistan game. The Ricky Ponting caught behind must be the most embarrassing moment of his career. It would be almost foolish to assume that Mr. Ponting had the fancy thought that the Pakistan team wont go to the third umpire for the dismissal, and that probably speaks much of his current condition. In that one instant though, UDRS convinced me of its usefulness. It will probably still be debated much, and will still produce occasional controversies, but there is no doubt that it will discourage folks like Ponting from trying to improve their batting form at any cost.

If any of you folks watched the Aus-Pak game, you would have also have heard the Ian Chappell rant against Shahid Afridi’s celebratory posture and almost everything about the Pakistan team in general. Its not unusual to see Australians start to point fingers on totally non relevant things, when losing, but Chappell’s commentary was almost close to total nonsense. As far as i can remember the Australians have tried every trick in the “How to play dirty cricket” book to win games, and although several Pakistan players have contributed to maligning the reputation of their team, it seems funny to hear an Australian complain about postures on the field. Its called gamesmanship when an Aussie does it, “friendly banter” in the expert’s language, but when someone else does it to them, definitions change. Funny, but not surprising, coming from the Aussies.

The other great debate that has sprung up in the last couple of games has been ‘to walk or not’ if the umpire does not give you out, but you know you are. Sachin Tendulkar walked, when the umpire did not give him out, and numerous TV replays could not confirm if he had nicked the ball. On the contrary, Ricky Ponting did not, argued with the fielders, the opposition captain, and then had to leave the field because the TV replays clearly showed that he had nicked the ball. A lot of my friends and people i know have made this instance into a glorification parameter for Sachin. I disagree on this subject a bit. For starters, Sachin Tendulkar now needs no comparisons with any Ricky Ponting or anyone else to prove his credentials and greatness in the game. Lets leave it to the people who still dont agree with his greatness do the stupid talk and then just laugh at them. I guess that’ll be sufficient. Secondly, i believe what Sachin did, goes on to prove that you need to keep improving as a cricketer. He may have walked or not when there was no UDRS, but with the system in place all you are counting on is a blind person in the third umpires seat to not give you out. I guess thats what Ricky Ponting hoped for; unfortunately for him though, it was he who was made to look like a joker at the end of it.

The Australia-India game will be one hell of a cricket match, given the history of these teams, and the sweet relations they share with each other. I can only hope that India brings their A game on the game day. It will be sufficient; anything less than that wont do…Fingers crossed!!

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