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What if Bangladesh win the World Cup

by Gaurav Sethi

I just love it, everyone and their octopus has decided on the four semi finalists. Even arithmetic tends to agree - India beating Bangladesh 70-80 per cent chance.  Where's the one guy who got the 1983 Prudential World Cup result right, I want to hear from him - fully expect him to crown Bangladesh the champions. And that's why I just had to ask Twitter - what if Bangladesh wins the World Cup?

My World Cup highpoint so far: Bangladesh beating England and gatecrashing the quarters. That's when I started to think, what if they beat India, what if they win the semis, what if they hold it together in the finals? I don't think it's such a long shot, especially against overachieving India. I wonder, apart from Shakib who we know from the IPL, do we know any other Bangladeshis by name - behind Jadeja's beard hermitage there doesn't seem too much of an inclination to learn. Sir has been called on to bat thrice in six games so far, good for India, not so good for him. He looked scratchy in more ways than one, refer beard again. Then his not so slow left arm spin which tends to sweat and go down faster, shorter, with a hit-me cherry on top. Oh, what will we do with Sir? But the Bangladeshis, all their left-handed batsmen in their flying machines will be waiting for him - Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, The Shakib Al Hasan, four of the top six are left-handed, when will Dhoni bowl Sir - to back-to-back centurion Mahmudullah? With Bhuvi's injury and Stuart Binny proving himself indispensable as 12th Man, in all likelihood Sir will play. And Rohit will open.

Jadeja and Rohit, India's bookends, at one and seven, meekly holding the tales India's batting will tell this World Cup. Between Dhawan's twin hundreds and Virat's century against Pakistan, Rahane has been forgotten, again. That knock against South Africa was a sign, one that went unnoticed. And even though that 60-ball 79 came at four, Rahane's real value is opening for India. One that we're unlikely to see in this World Cup, against Bangladesh at least.

At best, we might see Rahane come in at three if an opener falls early. Not quite Rayudu, but almost as dispensable, that's how India has been with one of their best overseas' batsmen off late. For Bangladesh, the key would be to challenge both Dhawan and Kohli early - throw in a dare with a few short balls, both love to pull like they were Ponting. But the MCG isn't quite the Kotla, is it? Negate Dhawan and Kohli, and Bangladesh makes India recalibrate their scoring-rates - from free-flow to stop-start-build-reassess-keep-wickets-in-hand for the death overs. Which is exactly where India's problems were batting first against Pakistan and South Africa.

And if Bangladesh beat India, then they won't be lowly Bangladesh anymore, they'll be the semi-finalists - no matter who they play, they'll have the occasion and that friendly-nothing-to-lose-underdog tag. The world's greatest cricketing clichés will wrap the tigers up and what's worse, they'll all be true.

What if Pakistan knocks Australia out in their quarter-finals? Far more likely than Bangladesh knocking Australia in the semi-finals, right? And what if Gayle has another mad day against New Zealand in the quarters and Andre Russell goes nuts against South Africa in the semis? Far more likely than Bangladesh knocking South Africa in the semi-finals, right?

So, Bangladesh have to beat India (in the quarter-finals) then beat Pakistan (in the semi-finals) then beat West Indies (in the finals) to win the World Cup. Doesn't seem like such a long shot now, does it? Just need Pakistan and West Indies to do some of their dirty work. Teamwork at its very best.

First published in daily O

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