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Jolted India gear up for debutants Bermuda
N.Ananthanarayanan | March 19, 2007 11:02 IST
Rated among title contenders, the 1983 champions will have barely 48 hours to shake off the effects of Saturday's five-wicket loss to Bangladesh after their embarrassing batting.
They are now one defeat away from making a first-round exit and joining sub-continent compatriots Pakistan on the sidelines.
The toughest first-round group has now turned into a three-horse race with India also needing to win their final group clash against Sri Lanka to take one of the two qualifying spots for the Super Eights.
Their meeting against group favourites Sri Lanka on March 23 would be a virtual semi-final if they get past Bermuda unscathed.
Indian skipper Rahul Dravid conceded that his players faced a tough job to bounce back from the defeat, which has brightened Bangladesh's qualifying hopes.
"We didn't play anywhere near potential," Dravid said on Saturday. "Our task is cut out, You are (also) hoping some results fall your way."
Explosive opener Virender Sehwag could face the axe after scoring just two runs against Bangladesh, failing to shake off his prolonged form slump.
Former India players have called for Sehwag to be dropped and the team management will be under pressure despite the 28-year-old batsman's ability to provide quick starts.
Dravid may also need to re-think his toss plan after the decision to bat first against Bangladesh backfired on a pitch that afforded early seam movement due to the 0930 (1330 GMT) start.
Sri Lankan opening batsmen Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga had to overcome such problems against Bermuda's unheralded seamers Kevin Hurdle and Saleem Mukuddem before their 243-run win, the second biggest margin in Cup history.
Bermuda skipper Irvine Romaine was happy to soak in the rare chance to share the spotlight among world class rivals rather than worry about defeats.
"It is basically about backing yourself, being mentally tough and doing what you got to do," he said after the Sri Lankan defeat.
The Bermuda school teacher would be hoping his players can take some advantage of their superior, but shaken, rivals.
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