By Omkar Poojari:
To the ever-expanding and egregiously emotional fan base of the Men in Blue,
The opening evening of the Super 10s started with a lot of euphoria and nostalgia for all of us. After all, we had won 10 out of 11 games in the build up to the T20 World Cup. At the Jamtha Stadium, the evening started with the crowd and the players from both India and New Zealand paying tribute to Martin Crowe. There was a feel-good factor due to the ‘favourites’ tag which kept the boisterous crowd in the stadium as well as all of us outside who were watching it in a very positive frame of mind.
At the halfway mark, we were all euphoric and ecstatic, courtesy India’s brilliant bowling effort. We were singing hosannas, lavishly praising everything, from the electric fielding efforts of India’s flamboyant fielders, Bumrah’s copacetic line and length in the slog overs to captain cool’s every move. We believed that when India walk out to bat they could do no wrong. Not just us, the otherwise more practical and pragmatic pundits also suggested that this will be easy-peasy for India. They went on to brag that Indians have been born and brought up playing on such ‘slow, low and dusty’ rank turners.
But then, things went wrong and disastrously so. Dhawan, Sharma, Yuvi and Raina went down one by one. But we were perhaps delivered the coup de grace when Kohli nicked a leggie from (Ish) Sodhi to (Luke) Ronchi. “ISH!” We exclaimed at what might well be curtains down for us. It reminded all of us of what had happened in the semi-final during the World Cup 2015 in Sydney. Just as Kohli top-edged a Johnson bouncer, all of us prayed that the ball vanishes into the vast and dark night sky or, at least, fall in no man’s land. Alas! Cricket is a gentlemen’s game and not a godman’s game and so our prayers went unanswered. Perhaps, we are lunatics and more often than not very emotional when it comes to cricket. After all, cricket is a ‘religion’ in our cricket crazy country and we are just the best at fussing over things when it comes to ‘religion’. Just remember, what Brett Lee had remarked about it, “It’s only a top edge.”
No, don’t tell me now that it might be “only a top edge” for him and the Aussies, but for us Indians it means a lot. Worst of all, don’t tell me that you think that Lee doesn’t know our passion, love and emotion for it!
And yes, you might say that the Kiwis outplayed and bludgeoned us. Also, you might argue that we have been undone by spin and turn. Yes, it seems like a bad dream. This can’t happen, can it? The ‘firm favourites’ have been beaten, fair and square by the ‘dark’ horses. But, hang on folks! We are still the favourites and mind you, not just the favourites but ‘firm’ favourites. I agree, it was a bad outing for us, but it was just a single bad day in the office. How can we forget that this very team under the very leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni lifted the World Cup in 2011 after being unable to beat two test playing nations in the group stage? History would repeat itself if he’s able to help India win their second T20 title. Just rewind to 2007. The same New Zealand and the same Indian team and the same result. And guess what? We reacted in a strikingly similar way, lambasting team India and then they won each and every game in their journey to conquer the world.
Déjà vu, eh? Last time, the black caps defeated us, we went on to lift the world cup. The last time we lost a world cup game in Nagpur was in 2011. What happened next is history! So, please don’t get carried away by those who say it’s all over for India or those who are ready to give you any number of reasons why India can’t lift the trophy. Just ignore those dolts! There’s a reason why they are tagged as sceptics, cynics and party poopers.
I am not a cricket pundit but just another fan like yourself. But I can bet beaucoup bucks on one thing that if there is one man who can handle this situation it is the one and only ‘Captain Cool’–MSD.
A revival or comprehensive comeback has a very core formula. ‘Revival= R+R+R’, i.e., Ravi Shastri + Regrouping + Resilience. Do you remember who was in the commentary box when Dhoni and Co. conquered the world in 2007 and 2011? It was then commentator and now team director Ravi Shastri. This time around he might have to give some pep talk to the boys so that they regroup and emerge as a resilient and resurgent unit.
So, all of you out there just close your eyes, ears and walk out when someone starts counting the reasons why India can’t be the WC T20 Champions.
Just remember that against the Kiwis it was a bad day for us and bad days are actually the best days because that’s when champions are made!
Fan of the Indian team
Through thick and thin!