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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 08:15 GMT
India distraught at cricket loss
Dejected India fan after defeat against Sri Lanka
The defeat has shocked Indian fans
The Indian media and former cricketers have come down heavily on the cricket team after its defeat against Sri Lanka in the World Cup tournament on Friday.

India are facing elimination from the World Cup after losing by 69 runs to Sri Lanka in Trinidad.

The remote hope for the 2003 finalists is Bermuda beating Bangladesh on Sunday and even then run-rates would feature.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid has said his team "did not play well.. did not deserve to go into the second round".

"It's [the defeat] disappointing. It's not a nice thing to lose in the early part of the World Cup. We have invested a lot of time and effort in it and it has not gone our way," Dravid told reporters after the match.

Protests

Security has been stepped outside the homes of team members in India's cities after fears of a backlash by angry fans.

Recently, irate fans attacked Indian wicket-keeper Mahendra Dhoni's house which was under construction in eastern Jharkhand state.

There have been small protests against the team in some cities, and effigies of the players burnt in the eastern city of Calcutta.

Dravid said he expected a lot of fans to be angry after Friday's defeat which has almost put India out of the reckoning.

"There will be a lot of people disappointed and angry back home, and fair enough. They had invested a lot of hope in this team and we haven't delivered."

India coach Greg Chappell said the defeat was "a collective responsibility".

Sachin Tendulkar loses his wicket against Sri Lanka
India's departure from the World Cup looks imminent

"We didn't play well enough and it is a disappointment that everyone has to share."

Indian cricket board chief Sharad Pawar said that the team had "disappointed the nation .. and time had come to take the future course of action."

'Shameful'

Former Indian stars also joined the chorus of disappointment with the team's defeat, and probable exit from the World Cup.

"It is shameful that we have to rely on Bermuda to stay in the tournament," former captain Kapil Dev was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"India were pathetic and not good enough to remain in the tournament."

Sunil Gavaskar, another former Indian captain, believed Chappell's future as the Indian coach was uncertain.

"He was brought in with the specific aim of taking India to the top two teams in the world and that has not happened."

Cricket fans in India woke up bleary eyed on Saturday after watching their team's harrowing loss to Sri Lanka in the first round of the World Cup tournament in the West Indies.

'Embracing disgrace'

Most of the Indian newspapers could not carry the results in their early editions, but most of what appeared echoed the despondency of a billion fans.

Sri Lanka sink a billion hopes, headlined the Cricinfo website.

India embrace disgrace, headlined The Pioneer newspaper, saying that the team's departure from the World Cup was imminent.
Rahul Dravid after the defeat
Dravid said his team did not deserve to win

Team India's World Cup fate now hangs by a Bermuda string, headlined DNA newspaper.

"The fact that we have to depend on Bermuda now tells the hopelessness of the team's performance." the newspaper said.

The Pioneer newspaper said the team's roller coaster ride through the first round of the tournament make fans "wonder sometimes if it is really time to switch from cricket to rugby".

"At least then the pain of loss would not be yours and the panic attacks would not be making a billion lives shorter by the ball."

Most of the papers criticised the underperforming stars of the highest-paid cricketers in the world.

"Many experts had reckoned this to be the best Indian team in a World Cup despite some indifferent performances. Never has a team promised so much and delivered so little," wrote DNA.

Greg Chappell
Greg Chappell's future looks uncertain
Analyst Prem Panicker writing in rediff.com said: "We've learnt this lesson before, we've been taught it again: bowlers win you games."

"Seven batsmen won't do what six didn't, a fifth bowler however could help reduce the amount of runs the six batsmen have to get. The lesson has been ignored before, it will be again - because batsmen are the 'brands', so with us, it will remain about the batting."

Panicker said India did not deserve to win the match, and the loss did not mean that the tournament did not hold any charm any longer.

"As Boris Becker once famously said, no one died. A team - our team - lost, because it did not deserve to win. Now to settle down, and watch some good cricket, beginning with a crackerjack game between Australia and South Africa tomorrow," he wrote.


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