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The signs say it

By Sujata Prakash
March 17, 2003 11:51 IST
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Destiny, fate, numerology and a lefty. It's all coming together for India. Doubters, leave your 'ifs and buts' behind and come join the growing band of believers who feel certain that India is 'meant' to lift the Cup a second time. Some signs cannot be ignored, and these are being passed around from e-mail to e-mail with growing delight.

Like, from 1979 to 1999 the winning captain changed alternately from left-hand bat to right-hand bat. This is the year of the lefty (Sourav! Sourav!). Ominously, Jayasuriya too is a lefty but Ganguly's team is bolstered by numerological forces.

West Indies won the Cup in 1975 and 1979 -- a difference of 4 years. Australia won the cup in 1987 and 1999 -- a difference of 12 years. By arithmetical progression a difference of 20 years should separate the winning team from its last win. India won the cup in 1983 and it's now... why, it's 20 years later!

Wait, there's more to come. Australia was stymied by India after 16 consecutive Test wins. Should Australia reach the finals they will have 16 consecutive ODI wins under their belt. Lucky 16 once again for India?

Under such circumstances it is actually better for India to face Australia than Sri Lanka in the final. Ganguly, please take note.

Having said that, it's time to turn our attention to the small matter of the looming semi-finals on Thursday. Both adjectives are appropriate in describing the Kenyans; India's opponents that refuse to take no for an answer. They may be small, but boy can they loom large bang in the middle of a match. Like street magicians who have learned to enthrall with a limited bag of tricks, the Kenyans keep pulling out a rabbit when least expected.

In their last match against India, it was Collins Obuya who had the Indians in a spin even before they'd finished counting all the O's on the field. The Indian top order collapse was explained away as complacency. The Australians made a big noise of beating the Kenyans in style but found themselves on a sticky wicket before one could say Asif Karim. It is becoming an increasingly familiar sight to see the Kenyans plug away at resistance. They cannot seriously challenge in-form teams like India and Australia, but neither will they be patronized any more.

There are some who will snicker that India is getting off lightly in the semis, but never underestimate those who have sniffed the heady scent of success. The Kenyans want to possess this lady so badly that not a few Indian hearts will flutter if Ganguly loses the toss. Still, it is inconceivable to think that apart from being their present magnificent selves the Indians will have to do anything different to secure a place in the final. The Indian batting, bowling, fielding and resilience is tightly knit and it will have to unravel at lightning speed if the Kenyans are hoping for an upset. Highly unlikely.

Besides, we have fate on our side. Another e-mail message has just landed on my machine. It was fate that took away Warne and Gillespie, fate that swelled Jayasuirya's arm just before his match against India, and fate that healed it just before his match against Australia.

I'm left with one question, though. I wonder what kind of e-mail messages are flashing on the screens of Kenyan fans. The kind that begin with, 'Destiny, fate, numerology and a righty; it's all coming together for Kenya...'

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