Monday, April 4, 2011

Mahi Way: Rear-view Vision of a Victorious Journey !

Feels like it was a dream and then feels like it has come true. No need to pinch oneself.
That six was as Dhoni as Dhoni ever was.
Ever since Praveen ‘Pehelwan’ Kumar got injured and India went in with Piyush, Sreesanth, Munaf and Nehra, I have been vocal in my criticism of selection and the way Team India played. I never gave them a chance of winning actually till the last 2 overs.
Spare a thought for me and many like me. Why did I do what I did ? Very simple. I have said it before. My love, admiration and adulation for Team India is boundless. It is just that it hurts badly when they lose. Even though they have won more often than not in recent years, it still hurts when they lose. Especially so if that happens in the Finals. And India had lost 7 out of the 9 Finals they have played against Sri Lanka before this one.
So if you keep criticizing and finding faults, you have better chances of absorbing the shock of a defeat. And a Win will be that much sweeter. So for all those negatives I spewed about Dhoni and his Blue Blooded Brethren, I am not going to eat crow because I am a vegetarian.
I loved them after they lost 2003 World Cup Finals. I defended them after those two T-20 World Cup disasters. I almost assassinated Greg Chappell after the 2007 World Cup first round exit. And today, I am ecstatic and over the Moon like all fellow Indians.
Turning back, let us take a look at some interesting subplots through the journey that was.
The Journey that was
For India, the journey began with ‘Taming the Bengal Tiger’ at Mirpur. On the way they scratched past the minnows, tied the Poms and stumbled but once against Springboks. Then they regrouped to knock the Kangaroos out. There came the Mother of all matches and the arch enemy was vanquished at Mohali. The road show came to a grand finale in Mumbai where they signed off “Slaying the Lions” !
Current Affairs
Dean Jones said, “Dhoni is dreaming if he thinks India can win”. Border thought Sri Lanka will be too strong for India and Steve Waugh rated Sri Lanka as favorites. Mark Taylor declared after India’s win against Pakistan that Pakistan had better chances of beating Sri Lanka but India would be easy meat for the Lankan Lions. Only Ricky Ponting declared after his team’s quarterfinal debacle that India will not only beat Pakistan in Semifinals but will also go onto win the World Cup. It was 4 former Australian Stars vs 1 Current Captain.
Moral of the Story: Current Opinion matters because you’ve seen the balls on ground, not on LCD TV !
Sanga: Tails I Win, Heads I win Too !
Sanga perhaps cheated,
Pushpakumara bleated.
All the others Tweeted,
And Dhoni just Batted !
Okay, You take the Toss,
That’ll be the only Loss,
For me, nothing is gross.
In the end, I am the Boss !
And the Spirit of Cricket literally went for a ‘Toss’ once again in an India – Sri Lanka match after la affaire Randiv !
Sehwagging: 175 – 0 in Six weeks
Viru ‘Revenge’ Sehwag started the proceedings with such a flourish against Bangladesh that all our middle order batsmen became complacent. His 175 curtain raiser spoiled them and there were too many collapses. So Viru decided enough is enough and went downhill. He creamed Gul in the semi-final before Riaz fixed him and Indian batting crippled after that. So Viru opened with a ‘duck’ in the Finals and Gautam and Mahi came to party !
Awful Taufel
This man must be rated the best Umpire of all times. In an era when the job is coming under increasing scrutiny, this man stands ‘tall and handsome’. He had 11 Challenges against his on field calls. 10 were correct and the eleventh was inconclusive. The benefit of doubt always goes to batsmen. Not very fair ! Aleem Dar too was fabulous.
Day of Poonam Pandey
India did win. We all know that and Rajnikant has confirmed that what we saw on Saturday actually was a full length highlight of the match he watched on Friday the First of April. So where is Poonam Pandey ? We are waiting for the date and the day !
Best Team need not Win
South Africa by far were the best team this time around. They had the fabulous top-4 and Duminy at 5 and a cool Du Plessis. Their fielding has always been class act. Nothing special about it. Most importantly they had the finest variety of bowling attack. Two world class quickies. One classic leg spinner. One nice left arm spinner and then Botha. How on earth can one team be so unlucky in knock out stages ?
The Series of the Man
Thousands of short messages and emails did the rounds questioning his fitness, flair and form. Runs were hard to come. In spite of making fun of his fitness, I had predicted before the Cup that India’s fortunes will rest on the fitness and form of ‘One Man’. 4 Man of the matches. Runs in crunch moments. 2 successful chases under lights and tremendous stress. Wickets whenever his Captain asked him to bowl. What more can a man do ? This world cup was about 2 Individuals. Shahid Khan Afridi went out due to his batting follies. Yuvraj Singh made this World Cup his own with a magnificent All Round show ! Take a Bow Yuvi, you deserve all the accolades !
About Pakistan and Shahid Afridi
Pakistan played very good Cricket. They came across a well knit bunch who played for their Talisman like Captain Shahid Khan Afridi. I would have loved to see them in final. Alas ! They had just 2 bad days. Given some kind of support, they will go a long way. And please throw Senator Rehaman Malik into dungeons along with Ijaz Butt.
About Minnows
All about Ryan ten Doeschate, Ireland, 2 successful 300+ chases, Kevin O’Brien, fastest World Cup Century, George Dockrell, Paul Stirling and too many useless matches. Give Ireland more exposure and perhaps a Test Status by 2015 should be theirs.
About some Great Men
Some really great men have played their last world cup matches. Ricky Ponting left a heart broken man with his winning streak broken. Murali left without much of an impact when it mattered. Sachin had his moments and charmed lives. He fell at the doorstep of history. But his team didn’t let him down for once. He will walk away a contented man.
At another level, Sehwag, Brett Lee, Kallis, Peitersen, Strauss, Collingwood, Dilshan, Mahela, Sanga, Zaheer Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Younis Khan and Hussey too might have played their last world cup matches. Malinga has declared he might not play another world cup.
Cricket will find new Stars and Brand Ambassadors for the Future. Virat Kohli, Umar Akmal, Tharanga, ABDV and many more will come. But we will miss the ‘Greats’ mentioned above. Especially 2015 World Cup might open as the first World Cup in 23 years not to feature a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar !
And a Solemn Wish
Let us all make a solemn wish that Pakistan will find a genuine Wicket Keeper before the 2015 World Cup !
Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

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