Well, we all oscillated last evening.
Who will win the 2011 Cricket World Cup ? That was the question in most peoples’ minds yesterday and in the days preceding the World Cup Finals Match at Mumbai. It was a difficult guess by any means, though almost all Indians wanted India to win the Cup after 28 long years of wait.
But could we have just written off the formidable Sri Lankan Cricket Team ? Not by any chance. They played well yesterday, having chosen to bat first after winning the toss. Initially they had a very bad run rate, but they gathered speed midstream, with the excellent batting of Jayawardene. When they hit 63 runs in the last 5 overs, there was silence in the Wankhede Stadium at Mumbai. Sri Lanka was smiling to itself – they achieved what looked like an impossible figure of 274 runs. And, the Indian self-doubt came into play in most Indians’ minds. Almost all cricket fans know the deadly pair of bowlers that Sri Lanka has in its arsenal – Malinga and Muralidharan. They could have devastated India’s batting.
India was also doing not that well at the beginning, having lost the precious wickets of Sehwag and Tendulkar very early in the match. There was again silence in the Stadium, though the crowd cheered when Tendulkar walked back to the stands.
So, one started ruminating seriously – will India make it ? I had serious doubt myself. We have seen the Indian middle order batsmen failing seriously and falling like a pack of cards in earlier matches. So, I was not sure at all.
Then came Gambhir and Kohli, who steadied the Indian innings and brought discipline into the act of batting. They held up very well, and Gambhir went on to score a 97, and all of us wished that he could have hit a century so easily. That was the steady recovery phase of the Indian batting.
Then came the Captain MS Dhoni. Like many folks, I was having serious doubts on his capabilities because he had not been in form for a series of matches, his wicket-keeping had been found wanting, his selection of bowlers was questionable, and his leadership competency was found to be lacking. With all that, I was thinking last evening that he might not even last beyond a couple of overs of Malinga.
But he did. And, he did that wonderfully well, going on to hit 91 runs and a final sixer clincher which sealed India’s position in the annals of cricketing history as only the third country which has won the Cricket World Cup for a second time.
Great victory for India, but a word of caution while everybody parties around. This win should not go to our head. Yes, we are the best team in cricket today, but that does not mean that the other highly capable teams such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Australia will be keeping quiet. They will go into serious introspection and devise a strategy to beat India in the next game.
It is never ending, and that is the thrill of cricket. Let us sharpen our strategy, further enhance our confidence (bolstered by this outstanding win), and constantly improve the skills by training.
India should strive to keep its position as the numero uno cricketing star of the world.
All the very best, India
3rd April 2011