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On MODIfying, Developing and Changing INDIA

There was a country, a country of spirited and adept men, finding itself in the path of recovery from the heavy blows of imperialistic pas...

Saturday, April 09, 2011

 In the previous post I largely spoke about,what the world cup win meant to us and how it was perceived by various set of people.In this one,I would like to discuss what is the reason for that glory and how exactly India fits in that Champion's image and What really makes them the champions.

Leaving aside the world cup performances in the knock out stages,India had been not playing their best cricket for the past one year or so in the ODI format except for a marvelous series win over the depleted Newzealand.With Sachin opting out of few series citing the need for rest  and Sehwag being frequented by injuries ,India had a very normal run.Not even the likes of Yuvi,Raina were firing as they always do and looked pathetically out of touch.And regarding MSD's form and the bowling of the team (sans Zaheer Khan),the less I say the much it will be better.Virat kohli and Yousuf (at the fag end of 2010) were the only consolations or hopes as we were fast approaching the world cup.But when the Tournament ended on April 2nd almost there were half a dozen players vying for honors for the most valuable contributions.Let us see those players who made such contributions.

Zaheer Khan
If there was a dictionary for Indian cricket then it would have reflected the meaning for the words "consistency" and "saviour" as Sachin Tendulkar.But in World cup,it was not so.It reflected someone else that too a bowler amidst the batsmen loaded Indian team.With him the team prospered and with him the team perished.He was there whenever a wicket was needed and at other times backing and tipping fellow bowlers.With out him world cup would have been another dream for India..It was proved that Simply Zaheer khan is to the Indian bowling what sachin is to the Indian Batting.
 His bare-knuckle slower ball that got Devon smith and Mike Hussey,the yorker that got Andrew Strauss and the yorkers to Ponting in the powerplays were my personal favorites.
It was rightly said in an article in Cricinfo that Zaheer is a pillar of his team's bowling whose career could turn into a case study in India's National Cricket Academy curriculum as to how fast bowlers don't have to always fade away, they can just get smarter.
 Yuvraj singh:
The scorers and commentators had a life time crisis when they had to announce in the PA  whenever he came into the field.They were tossed up between Yuvi-Left handed batsman,Yuvi-Slow left arm spinner or Yuvi-an all rounder.Not only them but the captain,team and yuvi himself did not seem to know who was he.Bhajji's ineffective spin in the initial phase gave him an edge.He stepped up well too.Next to Zak he had been the go-to man for wickets.Then suddenly in West Indies game he played a crucial knock.But more to our surprise  he played chance less innings against Aus and crushed all the doubts on his batting.Him and Raina played a brand of fearless cricket that had never been managed by Indian middle order before that.
Him celebrating fiercely, screaming passionately  after scoring winning runs against Aus and  his shrewdness of asking for Review for the denied LBW against Samaraveera in the finals were my favorite parts which inspired me.

Sachin Tendulkar:
Is there anything that is left to say about this man?.As usual, he was the saviour through out the league stages.The ton against England with those authoritative hits for sixers off Swann,the nightmare that he gave to SA along with Sehwag and few other crucial 50s were unforgettable  and proved life saving for the team.He had his share of luck in the semi final against Pak without which India would have ended around 170 or 180.But I felt happy that he did not get a ton on that day which would not have been a fitting inning that was supposed to be his carrier highlight of 100th 100.

Gautam Ghambir:
In the days of 100th 100,what can be the significance of a 97?.Well,a 97 could be perceived as a nearly-missed glory but this one can't be.It has the entire bragging rights for a decade to the extent that the bat which broke after scoring those golden runs can be very well placed in a museum for the future generation kids to admire it and say"See,that won the World cup for India".After his glorious run in 2008-09 I thought he has lost his touch(at one point I stated he is a weak link) but he proved he is big match player with this 97.(Remember his 75 in T-20 World cup final too).

At one point I wondered, when did he start to practice Gandhigiri as he followed Gandhi's Love,even,the enemies too principle.Because of that Love, he ran himself out after scoring 50 runs to save the opposition's trouble.Amidst that bighearted school boyish run-outs he also played crucial innings of 50 or more in all knock out games with strike rate close to 100.
 His knock in the final especially a sweetly timed loft when he was on 87 against SL  is my favorite.

 Wait a minute..Not only you,I am also surprised to see this name here.Yeah,he bowled well whenever the Indian think-tank(which never thought :P) granted him a chance.But there are no really telling performance there.But yet he had a curious case which made me to write about him.(May be we can shoot a documentary or movie with the title "Curious case of Ravichandran Ashwin).Next to the movie Fire, his selection issues should be the highly controversial thing in the modern times with out any fault of his own.In a way this comparison fits as he was always kept under wraps and given only  a limited preview option :P  where we could not see his true prowess in bowling as it was the case with a controversial movie (Da vinci cide or fire for that matter) which  is always heavily censored and the exhibit was never complete.(It was like Ashwin edited trail version :P )

On a  serious note,If I were Ashwin I would plainly ask one thing,"What the hell am I supposed to do more than this" ,as he had bowled all his overs in power plays againt Aus allowing Zaheer to have more overs for reverse swing in the later stage,he also took Watson and Ponting,he controlled runs as well.But he was not at all picked afer that.Come on folks its really ridiculous to give reasons like team composition,presence of another offie and the biggest comedy of all "He is a mentally tough guy"(really, you can't be serious?). Finally Ashwin was made a mini celebrity where everyone supported him right from public to the experts except the team think-tank.He should be happy seeing all the support which was the only consolation.
 Personally I think, when Dinesh Mongia,Sanjay Bangar,Joginder Shanrma and Debashish Mohanty can play world cups certainly Ashwin can play purely on merits.What more can I say,Ashwin is a poor victim..Tough luck.   :(

Other than that there were scattered brilliant performances from Viru(against Pak and SA being notable),Raina's 35 odd against Aus,Pak and his fielding,R.Ashwin's brilliance whenever he played(especially the wicket of Shane Watson),Virat kohli's innings in the final,Munaf patel's few efforts in bowling and Bhajji against Pak(the wicket of Umar Akmal) and MSD's final assualt being some.Apart from that the fielding efforts and discipline(giving only few extras and almost zero no-balls and wide) in the knock out stages were laudable.

On a broader level,I felt England and Ireland were impressive.The spice that England added with their un predictable performances made the league stages more interesting.Swann was phenomenal and Trott also played well despite playing for the first time in India.As far as Ireland,it was a kind of fairytale . More than the wins and Kevin O'Brien's onslaught I was very much pleased the way they played with all their heart. Sad that they are not in the next edition.We will miss them.I don't know what is the point of having  a cricket council (ICC)  when it doesn't help an emerging team.Its pathetic that ICC is trying to be an revenue generating system than to be a cricket promoting organization.

If there are impressive moments there were equally dull moments and performances too.Two performers still puzzles me.One is Sarwan and his innings against both England and India.He was playing test match cricket and buried WI's hopes in style.The second one is Misbah who looked very good to end the Indian dream if couple of more wickets and 3 overs were at his disposal.But I still did not understand why he slept in the middle between 35-45 overs of Pak innings by blocking everything.Sloppy cricket costed both their teams.
ok..So,is everything over?.Nope,how can it be when we have our Captain cool MSD. 

As I said early until the moment he swatted a Muralitharan's delivery to the boundary, he had a very forgettable tournament as a batsman.He peaked at the right moment (the thoery which he only seems to know )and looked formidable with the six in the last ball which made everyone forget his other 7 uncharacteristic innings.He made up for his below par batsman-ship with that innings and for the very ordinary decision making,team selection by winning the world cup.But the MSD of old who was aggressive and intuitive was no where to seen.

He seemed to have replaced by a more methodical part which wants to be in a safe side making safe decisions .Few of the decisions were not welcomed like the continuous picking of Piyush,non selection of Ashwin in most games and few other minor decisions.I felt that he could have done better on that part.I wouldn't accept that whatever he did can be right if he wins the world cup.I think mistakes stays the same whether he wins or looses.May be the desperation to win the cup,enormous pressure,fear of loosing the games pushed him to be like that.But still, they are mistakes.

 If the Pre-Final Dhoni was marred with controversy and criticisms where all his decisions backfired him,the Post-Final Dhoni had been more of a undeclared hero(few of his deeds  were truly heroic) with stars and planets favoring him(for right reasons and it was deserving).His confession of reading the pitch wrong and selecting 3 seamers against pak,was sensible which heightened the respect on the man.And after winning the world cup,him attributing the world cup success to his predecessors showed what kind of person he is.More than a captain,more than a batsman, Dhoni as a person was too inspiring and him being the captain is a real privilege toIndian cricket. As sachin said when Dhoni was given captaincy,"Indian cricket is in safe hands".

As a batsman his innings against SL and that ever lasting image of sixer off the last ball are my favorites.And the way he handled things after the win and the way he and team handled media and public pressure during the tournament was fabulous and exemplary.

Finally,the world had the chance to see true champions.For a decade,all of us have seen "A champion of the game",the invincibles who showed how strong one has to be technically to be at the top.But 2011 has given an opportunity to see "champions of real cricket and sportsmanship and the champions of people .

The world will know how really a champion behaves and carries himself in the years to come...Mahi and guys like Tendulkar are already on it.Sachin asking a die-hard fan to come to the dressing room and giving him a chance to hold the world cup and pose for a photo was one such in that direction.Truly that was a out of the world thing.Chanceless.Even after being carried on his counterpart's shoulder which should be the ultimate joy for him,he says and looks forward to share the joy with the common public on the eve of WC win..This says why the whole of India loves him.What a man.Simply proud to be his fan.

I guess these kind of things makes someone or a team champion than the technicalities.What they do and how they behave makes them champions when they conquer the peak and it makes  them what they really are.It makes them the champions or mere mean-spirited random winners of a game. And with Sachin and Dhoni there, we are on the right path.For these reasons,we have every right to say "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS",which holds true in all aspects.


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