To start with, here is a mandatory caveat as a section of fans may frown on the
following content. After India’s loss in the semi-final in ICC WC 2019, I am as
devastated as any other Indian Cricket freak, or maybe a notch above. I fully agree
that the Indians were wrong in making few decisions in team selection, playing eleven
and batting order, and to say the least there is serious skepticism on the ability of
Ravi Shastri as a coach and whole bunch of other coaches.
Sports can be cruel at times. A loss can push a nation in mourning. When Tendulkar
was at his peak, there was a TV ad, in which Tendulkar was given out by the umpire
and the caption said: “One raised finger can break a billion hearts”. It was so true. Same was the situation when Virat Kohli was adjudicated LBW out on 10th July
2019. For Indian fans, the whole world came crashing down.
Hell broke loose as India lost. The complaints were numerous – why Dhoni came so
late to bat, why Shami was not part of playing eleven, why there was no specialist
batsman in the middle order, and they were many others. To my shock, I even read
a story in a daily that how team India is a divided house and crippled with internal
politics of players. It was bizarre and full of imaginations.
True, that Indian think-tank could have taken far better decisions but please note that
in sports most of the time in hindsight only you get to know that how good or bad the
decision was. This discussion is so subjective in nature.
In 1997, as the captain, Tendulkar promoted and sent Robin Singh to bat at number
three while chasing a big total in ODI. Robin failed and Tendulkar was severely
criticized by experts. Just a few months later, in a similar situation, Azhar was
captain and tried a similar truck. Robin played a match-winning knock and Azhar was
showered with praises for such tactful thinking.
In 2011 WC final, Dhoni decided to come before Yuvraj in batting line-up against the run of play. Dhoni clicked and till date he hailed for the daring decision. Imagine the case, if Dhoni failed to score.
Similarly, in T20 WC 2007 final, asking Joginder Sharma to bowl last over was
seemingly an awful decision but since Misbah played an equally awful shot, the
decision stood tall in the end.
In WC 2019, the team has done well; they won seven out of eight league games and
were topper in the point table. Restricting New Zealand at 239 was a commendable
task and more importantly the way team managed to take innings to 221 from 24 for
4 and 72 for 5 deserves the accolade. In fact after 45 overs, there was a moment
that India was in the striking distance.
What we have been witnessing in WC 2019 that toss has become so important. I
think you can imagine the outcome of this match, had India won the toss and elected
to bat. My estimate is that it would have been a comfortable victory for India.
Nonetheless, had it been a normal ODI with no weather interruption, India
could have grabbed the match. Rain struck after New Zealand had almost finished
their innings and India started their innings in the conditions absolutely conducive to
New Zealand’s bowlers.
Nothing came to India’s rescue on 10th July 2019. New Zealand was impeccable in
the field and hardly missed anything. In spite of all this, Dhoni was on the job but then
came the mercurial throw from Martin Guptill as the last and decisive blow to the
team India. That was the throw, which even a great fielder like Guptill would miss 9
out of 10 times but there was nothing which could have gone wrong with New
Zealand on 10 th July 2019.
Having followed the Indian Cricket for more than 35 years and notwithstanding the
loss in the semi-final, without doubt, this is the most cohesive and competitive Indian
side ever. Even in two defeats in 2019 WC, the team showed character. The
matches were not one-sided. In fact in 2019 WC, India is the only side, who did not
lose a single game, which can be tipped one-sided. Look the way Australia lost out
to England in the second semi-final. The team stands firm as a unit with skipper in control. When did you last hear a story of inside rift?
Take the cases from the past. I remember that during 1983-86, the scuffle between
Gavaskar and Kapil was in the public domain. In fact, at more than one occasion
BCCI played the role of peacemaker. In 1996, Siddhu had such escalated difference
with Azhar during England tour that he returned home without telling anybody.
Just a few months back this side has become first ever side to win a Test series in
Australia. They won ODI series as well there. Last year India decimated South Africa
in South Africa in ODI series.
So let’s take the loss in the true spirit of the game.
Continual improvement is a never-ending process. An RCA (Root Cause Analysis)
from this colossal defeat is certainly due but the team did fairly well and as true fans,
we need to stand with our men in blue. You win some, you lose some. The bottom
line is that, please draw lessons from the defeat, keep complacency at the bay and
strive to improve continually. I am sure Kohli and boys will do it.
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