1) We chose for this tournament a team with, as far as I can tell, only three truly hungry guys: Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble. Ganguly because he lost his captaincy and his place in the team, fought his way back, and on his return is simply desperate to make a mark in top-flight cricket again. Dravid because he is made hungry, and he knows about losing his place too. Kumble because he is made hungry too, and he knows about losing his place too.
2) Those three hungry guys are all over thirty, which in cricketing terms translates as "old".
3) To go with just three truly hungry guys, the team carries too many guys riding on reputations that recent performances have not matched. I'm thinking of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan at a minimum.
Sehwag should have had an extended period out of the team, as Ganguly and Dravid and Zaheer before him had. That would have lit the fire once more -- if there was one to be lit. Instead he was kept out for a few inconsequential games with the apparent promise that he was part of the Cup plans. Not the best recipe for lighting fires.
4) At least a few players whose hunger alone should have put them on the plane to the Caribbean have instead cooled their itchy heels here in India. I'm thinking of Mohammed Kaif, Ramesh Powar at a minimum.
5) You match a team lacking hunger with one oozing it -- read "Bangladesh", a team longing to upset the big guns -- and you have the ingredients for what happened: a result that made nonsense of monumental reputations. Therefore, by no means an upset.
6) But those five points pale in comparison to this sixth and final one: the weight of Indian expectations.
The way we read too much, far too much, into inconsequential one-day games, whether won or lost. The way we expend so much passion on what is, let's remember the cliche, just a game, just a game. The way we celebrate individual achievements -- century tallies, wicket tallies, run tallies -- instead of recognizing them for what they should be: mere cogs in a team's progress. The way we refer to this batting lineup as the world's best, over and over.
I mean, I recall first seeing that description -- the world's best lineup -- on the cover of a newsmagazine just ahead of our disastrous tour of Australia in 1991. Despite that disaster, we've seen that description again and again, not least as we went into this World Cup.
I mean, give me the world's hungriest lineup over the world's best. Every time.
Postscript: The passion I mentioned a few lines above: for a sample, read the comments following Prem Panicker's report. (Well, not all 1600+ at last count, but check at least a few). Note how many of those comments have been "reported for abuse."