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Undeserving India not out of tri-series

Cricketnext.com
Feb 26, 2012 at 04:48pm IST

A tour that has spanned nine defeats, three wins and a tie across three formats lumbers on. India's 87-run loss to Australia at the SCG on Sunday has left them battered and bruised, meaning their chances of making the best-of-three-finals have slipped even further away from what clearly looks a disheveled bunch of cricketers.

For the third game running, India failed to chase a target in excess of 250. Four games ago, they had somehow tied a dizzying match against Sri Lanka, who at that stage had yet to win a game. Since then, Sri Lanka have moved to second in the points table and are a win away from making the CB Series finals.

India's dip in form since that heady night in Adelaide on Valentine's Day has been stunning and swift, but they are in with an outside chance of making the summit. It will be nothing short of a miracle if they achieve it.

Undeserving India not out of tri-series yet

Mathematically India have a chance of making the CB Series finals, but it will take nothing short of miracle.

India, with 10 points, needed to win both of their remaining two matches to secure a place in the best-of-three-finals. Instead, they lost to Australia at the SCG. They also conceded a bonus point, failing to get to 202 to deny Australia that. Now they need to beat Sri Lanka on Tuesday by a big margin to take the bonus point, and hope that Australia beat Sri Lanka on Friday. If both of those results pan out, India will be level with Sri Lanka on 15 points with both teams having won thrice. In such a scenario, the net run rate will take a back seat to the head-to-head results. India will have beaten Sri Lanka twice while losing just once, thereby ensuring their progression into the finals.

How they will manage to do so is anybody's guess. The batting is in tatters, the bowling lacks a leader, the decisions taken have been uninspiring and MS Dhoni continues to look a beleaguered captain. Duncan Fletcher, the coach, remains mum on any matter pertaining to India's form.

"I'm not a mathematical person, I prefer to talk about cricket," said Dhoni with a weary smile after Sunday's defeat. "I will focus on cricket and let the scorers do the scoring."

It was a meek attempt to mask the frailties that grip this team at the moment. India have been hammered again, and are hurting. Where they will find the motivation and inspiration to complete a stunning turnaround is difficult to envisage.

More than mathematics, India need a miracle.

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