World Cup Final[ly]

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India won. The euphoria might have subsided a little, things maybe resuming back to normal slowly after Saturday’s Indian victory. The crackers have stopped bursting, people have stopped yelling, taking to the streets waving Indian flags on automobiles. But what remains and what will is that India won the World Cup. And that’s a big achievement, and you already know that if you claim to be following cricket even if only for a while.

I’ll not get into cliché’s and state facts such as how many years it has been since India last lifted the cup.

I’ll also not draw comparisons between the ’83 victory and this one. Or for that matter, try to debate on which team was better, or who was the better captain. It is one thing to compare two teams from the same era, and something totally different to compare two teams from different eras. You cannot objectify the comparison.

I can say this, Dhoni and the Indian team (I hate to refer to them as Dhoni’s men, as I did not see Dhoni as anything more than 1/11th of the playing 11 who might have contributed equally as every playing member, but certainly no more.) are just as good as Kapil and his team of yesteryear.

What is more important is that on the way to the finals, they knocked out Australia, which I am sure will always be etched in Ricky Ponting’s mind. I am sure the Australians must have thought they could breeze past India, and disbelief was writ large on the faces of the Australian players. And no, the Australians did not lose because they played poor cricket. Ponting was almost at his best. Everybody gave everything they could on the field. You could see it in the way Brett Lee ran in to bowl his deliveries, and dived near the boundary line to cut himself near his eye-brows. They gave it their everything, and yet came short of an Indian team that although has looked spotty, has been very consistent, and has been extremely gritty. Looking at the way the Australians bowled to Suresh Raina, I felt that’s where they went wrong. They did not bowl to him like he was  a batsman, and for that they paid the price. You don’t bowl to a capable batsman in that fashion and easily get away with it.

The Pakistan match was equally exciting, although for me, the Australian victory was sweeter.

Compared to the Quarter-Finals and the Semi-Finals, the Finals was something of a damp squib. Well, it was not without excitement, and I am sure the team must have sat down over the team meeting and decided that there was no necessity to throw the bat at everything and throw away the wicket.

I consider this the highlights of the Finals,

  • An outstanding opening spell by Zaheer Khan, (only to be compensated for later, but still.)
  • All of the Indian Bowlers did well (barring Sreeshanth of course).
  • Harbhajan Singh provided an important blow. Although, to be quite honest, I have never considered Dilshan a batsman. How he did well in this tournament is something of a surprise to me.
  • Jayawardena’s innings was outstanding. If you look at the scorecard, you might not get a good idea of how well he paced his innings, and how towards the end, he almost effortlessly, and with almost zero risk, increased the scoring rate.
  • The Indian innings was studded with a couple of important moments. When Sehwag went cheap, people were literally speechless. It was disappointing. It would have been wonderful to see Sehwag belt the Lankan bowlers the way he did Gul.
  • Yet again, Sehwag without so much as consulting with the runner, went for the ‘Referral’ which was pretty stupid!
  • Sachin’s dismissal was very disappointing, because he was beginning to get into the groove. Also, it would have been the perfect stage to get his 100th 100. 🙂 I am sure had that happened, a couple of things would have been different. He might have been considered more seriously for the Man of the Series. (Yuvaraj might still have walked away with it, but I am sure ut would have been closely contested.) He would definitely have been the Man of the Match. I am not sure if as people claim, India would have lost. 🙂
  • In My Opinion, Gambhir played an extremely good innings. Well paced, no risks. The running was a little spotty like the previous games. But at least this time, he didn’t lose his cool, and run himself out. 😀
  • Dhoni played a good innings. Was it a Captain’s knock ? Well, if the emphasis is on Captain, rather than knock, certainly.

Dhoni Bashing:

I am sure we are all divided in our opinions on whether Dhoni is a good captain. And I am sure that there are those of you think that the Captain plays the biggest role in a win or a loss. I couldn’t disagree more. Sure the captain plays an important role. But a good captain need not necessarily be conspicuous.

Dhoni in the post-match presentation said that had they lost, there would have been many questions. Well, India won, and I still have those questions

  1. Why was Sreeshanth played instead of Ashwin ? You cannot even say he did well, and hence your instincts worked well. I think the only saving statement you could make in argument is ‘What if Ashwin had conceded more runs?’, and that is slightly lame.
  2. Why did Dhoni come up the order instead of Yuvaraj ? Now, if someone offered an answer saying ‘Left-Right’ combination, I might be in agreement. But those of you who immediately feel like saying ‘He played a Captain’s innings’ or any of the n number of variants of that, I cannot agree with. If he was so intent on coming up the order for the team, why not ahead of Kohli ? Why, when the platform was already steady ? I believe, the intent was a personal one, to try to do well for himself. I see nothing wrong with that if you are a player. But when you are the captain, there is conflict of interest. Yuvaraj could have possible made a 100.
  3. IMHO, Dhoni did not deserve the Man of the Match more than Gambhir did. Gambhir was the person who steadied the ship. The final scorecard might not reveal everything, but you will be able to see that Dhoni was very tentative early on, and only later when the score looked very gettable did he go after the bowling. Looks like it was his lucky day. I would have at least Dhoni to share the MoM with Gambhir, instead all he had to say was, “He was responsible for his own dismissal’. How crass!
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