Thursday 26 March 2015


MS Dhoni's run out signaled India's exit once for all
Image Courtesy - abc.net.au
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies... The long held adage from Shawshank Redemption kept me going until the time... the time, when the red-light flickered from the bails.. MS Dhoni was run-out! That was the end, the final rites, call it whatever you want...

If anyone had told me before the start that India would be knocked out of the World Cup on the penultimate match of the tournament, fighting for a place for the finals, I would have accepted it, although reluctantly and probably also wonder if it was possible considering the way we bowled and batted at times leading up to the tournament. Since then, winning seven matches in a trot has been the reason why most Indian fans felt and mostly hoped for achieving the glory yet again by defeating the two best teams in the tournament - Australia and New Zealand.

Today's match, right from the start was all about hope, the great Indian hope. The Indian team knew this Australian team, all the Indian fans knew this Australian team and from what we have seen from these endless summer months of playing cricket in Australia, team India had to be at their best, if not more to reach the finals. They met a better side on the day and like most days with Australia in the recent past, the better side (Australia) won.

Is this disappointing? Yes, it is. A loss to a team you support is always a tough pill to swallow. That's about it. Losing the semi-finals in 1987 was a surprise, the 1992 campaign was a disaster, the 1996 campaign ended in tears, shame and what not; the 1999 tournament was a touch and go; the 2003 World Cup went down to the wire; the 2007 World Cup was embarrassing and we were the World Champions in 2011. Yes, today's loss took away the tag of 'world champions'. This year, the conditions were different, something Indians often found wanting, be it any form of the game and yet they managed to stretch till the last four.
India started well.. the bowlers kept the in-form Australia batsmen in check for the ten overs. When the bowling was tested and threatened to concede well in excess of 350, the bowlers came back well, taking wickets, restricting the Aussies to 328, the highest they conceded this tournament.

This was the semi-final, and there was no better occasion to finally win a match against the home team. The openers started well, and did not lose those early wickets in those 10 overs. Everything seemed fine, Indians were well on their way chasing those runs, and against the run of play the first wicket fell... and soon Virat Kohli left. Rohit Sharma looked set, pulls Mitchell Johnson for a six, the chase is underway in spite of those two hiccups, the very next ball, he is out. And since then, the run chase was all about hope. After struggling to find boundaries, Raina perished and in came the last hope. 

I don't believe in miracles - but this guy could perform some, the Indian cricketing version of Andy Dufresne - our captain cool, M S Dhoni. I was hoping, in his mind he would plan just the way Andy did and in the end, break the shackles Indians were under right since the time they arrived in Australia. A win today would have felt like that prison break! He did that four years ago, was I expecting too much? Is it just too much to ask from an individual in a team sport?

He tried his best to take it to the last minute, he held on, even when asking rate was 15 per over. I was hoping, he would do it.. though with each ball it seemed unrealistic. And his run-out signaled India's exit once for all. Team India would lose their first match of the tournament and with it, the hopes of a successive titles ended. Post analysis can be made - but it will not alter the result. We gotta live with the fact of Australia being a much better team than India and Indians did not go out without a fight (they fought for a good part of 80 overs).

On this note, the Indian team will finally depart Australia after having spent close to four months playing all-forms of cricket down under. The end was not sudden, it wasn't anti-climax as deep down everyone knew it was as best as they could have played.

Now.. it's time for the finals, and this Sunday, I will be hoping Kiwis would end up winning their maiden World Cup trophy. A new day, a new hope. 

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