“Slogans die, hopes don’t”. @msksmiles
After a dismal Aussie tour and an equally ignominious triangular series, India was left wanting in areas of cricketing aspect. Except for couple of individual brilliance, rest of the team just fell flat on their knees. Team was in tatters, media slaughtered them for lack of sustenance and India’s overseas woes in the original format of the game were in a brink of disaster.
That was before the World Cup began.
Then the Indian Renaissance began. We stormed through the initial stages, beat top teams like Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies to reach the semis. It was a turnaround that surprised us but India is known for such comebacks in the shorter format of the game. Our bats made runs, bowlers took wickets in plenty and suddenly, the ambushed team had risen like a Pheonix. I think we must take a lot of heart from these performances so far. Honestly, I didn’t think they were going past the quarters and they did outperform my chances of them in this World Cup. Yes, we do expect us to win once we reach the semis but then, I don’t think we really had the bite today to counter the Aussies. Nevertheless, I would still say that my expectations were met in this edition of the CWC for India.
As for the match, what we didn’t want was what exactly unfolded. I don’t think we can do much when Australians are batting first in a WC semi-final, wickets are the key as containing wont really yield dividends. Once you have a score of 300 plus to chase, its always going to be tough. Worst, our batsman chose the wrong day to fail in tandem. I expected Kohli to fire but he went cheaply. So did Raina and Rahane, Dhawan’s resilience wasn’t enough. As always, MSD held the fort to deny the inevitable but we probably realise that he was waging a lost battle. He was left alone to scamper through with zero support, and that were gruesome signs of India going down without a fight. The earlier semi-final was a great advertisement for the game, this wasn’t to be.
If you go by the degree of disappointment, I have largely maintained that our 2003 WC loss to Aussies will always hurt, forever. In terms of performance, leadership and class, that was one of best Indian outfit to play the shorter format of the game. Sourav’s immaculate captaincy, our bowler’s evolution as match winners and Sachin’s single handed brilliance to take us to the final was an achievement of epic proportions. As much as I hail Dhoni & Co. for bringing the cup home in 2011, the 2003 outing would have been right there with Kapil Paaji’s Lords triumph. It was not be. Today’s loss shouldn’t be such a dampener though.
Our rivalry will continue with the Aussies for the next few years, to avenge our 2003 loss in a CWC will have to wait for sometime now. I am not talking about test matches here, don’t want to.
I still think India is a great one day side, and few changes need to happen. Flak will come in its way, and they have to take it in as a backlash is normal back at home. We really need to introspect if players like Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja are to be retained. Bowlers did well in this tournament (we never expected them to perform), I would laud their efforts for coming out of a CWC with 70+ wickets in as many matches. MSD is the best we have got to lead our one day format and this defeat shouldn’t let him to take some harsh decisions – his post match conference statements gave me something to relish about. I think he was fantastic throughout the tournament, we must not forget that he led a relatively young Indian side with maturity and perseverance.
Till next time, that is.