World Cup: India's many positives

Temptation will be quite high to vilify the Indian cricket team after their 95-run defeat to Australia in the World Cup semi finals in Sydney. Of course, there would be billions of broken hearts, and it is natural for them to feel disappointed seeing their team getting knocked out after coming so close to retaining the title. But even amidst that gloom, we should not lose focus. We should not forget that India played like champions from their first match against Pakistan, notching up seven successive wins. Their only moment of stumble was against Australia, the world’s top-ranked one-day side. That bull-run till the semi finals in itself was a remarkable feature as no other side apart from New Zealand managed to maintain a clean slate in the tournament. India had to survive several odds coming into this World Cup. They had failed to win even a single match in the Test series against Australia and in the following tri-series.

Their batsmen looked out of sorts on the bouncy Australian pitches, while bowlers were frustratingly directionless, particularly in the death overs. For many, the World Cup was a disaster-in-waiting. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his band overturned each of those weaknesses in spectacular fashion in the quadrennial mega show, surprising even in their staunchest supporters. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Dhoni chipped in with crucial runs whenever the team required them. Mohammad Shami emerged the pick of Indian bowlers, baffling the batsmen with his subtle variations and received able support from Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and R Ashwin. In coloured clothing, Dhoni the captain regained his verve, leading the side with his customary calmness. Suddenly, India became favourites in everybody’s book. But Australia were just too strong for them.

Now, there is a need to give the players a chance to recuperate from a long and arduous four-month journey to the Antipodeans. It is certainly an injustice to hurt them with barbed personal remarks, blame their beloved ones for a failed outing or stoning their houses. This is certainly not a time for such infantile antics. We need to maintain a dignified restraint and pat the team for producing a strong show in the biggest cricketing stage. We should also take into account of the fact that this is a young team with Dhoni being the only player on the other side of the 30s. They have long years ahead of them and are certain to bring more laurels to the country in the coming years.

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