Sunday, April 3, 2011

India Wins the World Cup - Fascinating Win

India proved the much better prepared team and dug deep into its much vaunted talent and showed incredibly high desire and intensity to lift the World Cup No team that can field the way the Indians did, bowl the way they did for most part and most importantly bat the way they did after being down 31-2 can lose. It was fascinating to watch as they rebuilt on the shoulders of young, fearless and gutsy players who were so focussed on getting their hands on the Cup. This was a chase worthy of a champion team that truly deserved the World Cup. India proved and emphatically, that they are the World Champions by far. This was no fluke. This was a champion team that performed to its potential or something close to that. And when this Indian team performs to its potential, nothing can stop it.

It had been frustrating to watch their scratchy performances in the early stages. It has been equally fascinating to see it rise to the peak it did as a unit. Several times the players and their exceptional leader have said words of rare brilliance and clarity. "We back each other fully", "We play for each other", "We visualised holding the Cup one year ago" and some many more that I forget. This is what team work is about and full marks to the Coach, the selectors, the players for putting everything else aside and doing it for themselves and for their country. Today, the way they rose, no team on earth could have beaten them.

Sri Lanka can well and truly go back satisfied that they had given their best. It was not even a close game. Everyone knew once Gautam and Virat Kohli settled down to handle the pressure and run the ones and twos that this match was pretty much over. Ajay Jadeja said that by the 17th over he knew that there would be no more hiccups. It was just the way the two youngsters rebuilt the innings that showed the determination, the desire to win today - come what may. Gambhir excels in these situations and you can see that combative spirit in him every time India faces a test. The tougher the challenge the grittier he becomes. In the T 20 World Cup certainly, in several games for India after that and in this unbelievable knock in the World Cup final, this young man of rare grit and courage, and of exceptional talent, played what was to me the innings of the match. Not as silken and as good looking as Mahela's class act before but for sheer guts and gumption and application, this rises above both Mahela's and Dhoni's knocks for me. The only flaw, a tired and out of character stroke that cost him a World Cup final hundred. But Gambhir's 97 is worth 25 hundreds in inconsequential games! The 'man of the match' to me, this young lad, a true soldier of India.

One cannot forget the contribution of Virat Kohli, the youngest and already one who matches the fire and determination of the seniors, this Delhi batsmen batted like he had no nerves. He is another one to watch out for in the future because he will fetch many wins for India. He played flawlessly with Gambhir and added crucial runs and blunted all the Lankan hopes - batting seemed the easiest thing to do when they were there picking ones and twos at will and the occasional boundary. If Dilshan had not pulled of that unbelievable catch off his own bowling Kohli was on the way to a long inning. One of the best visuals of the final to me was that of his disappointment at having got out, he angrily hit himself on his pads in an agony that showed in every part of his body, that he wanted to stay there till the end was clear. That visual showed his immense desire to win and that is very satisfying. The ex- captain of the Indian Under 19 team not too long ago is known to be a fighter, a leader and he is used to winning. In the presence of these almost God like cricketers who played today he will bloom into something bigger and brighter. Indian cricket is in good hands.

Dhoni said another of his great statements before the match - we are in the present and not in the past and future. And so he remains. Despite the admitted error of having played Sreesanth (the lucky charm of Indian cricket) instead of Ashwin, an amazing inning of Jayawardena and a late charge that cast doubts on the chase, he was there effecting a brilliant run out of Kulasekhara from behind the stumps, marshaling his resources and then promoting himself over Yuvraj, Dhoni lived dangerously, taking big risks and ensuring that they paid off. Here is one guy who takes risks but he puts in enough work behind the risk, they are not airy fairy risks because he has a clear thought and reason why. Dhoni appears to do only things he believes in, not for public consumption, and his prime mantra then is to keep it simple. Which the whole world knows is the hardest thing to do. His innings was brilliant under duress but he has always been that sort of a player, one who comes to the crease with a clear idea of his role and responsibility and does not normally go back without fulfilling it. And until the ball soared well over the fence, his eyes did not lose the focus nor concentration, and then he allowed his body to relax and he twirled his bat in his typical flamboyant fashion and broke into a smile. Unlike many role models of the day Dhoni believes in letting his huge achievements speak for him, lets his work do the talking and showing the world that it is indeed about 'doing' things - not about talking about them.

Sachin's amazing commitment lifts the team in every department and his fielding showed the way just as his batting did all through the tournament. Not once was he found out to be the grandad of the team - in fact several youngsters must have upped their performances after seeing him. Yuvraj as always a match winner came into his own - most surprisingly with the ball. I cannot believe that he got 15 wickets! His batting was destructive as ever. Raina made a huge difference as he adapted quickly, showed remarkable composure and responsibility in the toughest position of all - the No 7 position. His fielding was outstanding in the final. Sehwag destructive as always, clear and articulate in his thought as he is with the way he treats the ball. Zaheer magnificent as always, a huge reason for this win, a he got important breaks, put every batting line up in check and control, got crucial breaks with his canny bowling. Munaf bowled well within his limits and one saw an extra step in his fielding as the intensity of the team flowed through him. Harbhajan as always puts pressure in one way or another, mostly by his very combative presence. Ashwin, Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla and anyone else I may have forgotten - take a bow. You guys deserve to be champions and no praise can be too much.

One wonders at the quirks of fate. Praveen Kumar, a natural selection for the one day squad, injures himself before the team selection and is replaced by Sreesanth who already has one World Cup win under his belt and several more other famous wins in his patchy career. Praveen will come back and play creditably for India in other games, hopefully his name will figure in one World Cup too. He can take inspiration from Sachin who held out so long and possibly threatened the Gods of the World Cup to play the World Cup until he wins one - in the face of such single minded focus no force on earth can hold.

But coming back to us who have to go back to their daily lives, this team has given much. Yes, the team and its players will all amass great fortunes and fame and will forever be heroes. What happens to the fans who saw, who cheered? The youth who take so much pride that they send long sms's, mails, burst crackers, and just go crazy. We, the rest of the Indians, the rest of those in the World, must go back and reflect. Yes, this is the way this team has done it. They have prepared well. They have put aside individuals and performed like a team. They trusted one another, be it form one region or another, one religion or another, and backed one another fully. They had lofty goals. They played for each other. They rose above criticism and kept their focus. They planned ahead and prepared ahead. They stood up as a team when the chips were down. They   broke bones, spewed blood and got drenched in sweat - and tears as we saw. They scraped their shins, forearms, dived in the air without a thought of injury and rushed against the hard ball. They played to their potential when it counted, conquered their demons. And mostly they did for the common cause of the team. That was clear. Almost everyone dedicated the win to the team and the bigger team - India.

They have shown the rest of us the path to excellence, the route to that smile on their faces, the riches and the fame. Take your pick - but walk that path of excellence and preparation that this team did. The path of self belief, of trust and playing for a larger cause. The path of courage, of dreams and of rising above the ordinary. If there is one lesson we can learn from team India it is this - and this goes out to everyone from the highest office to the smallest, the youngest to the oldest - if they can do it, you can too. Start now and chart your own path to glory and one day the rest of the team, the country, will applaud for you too!


Priyanka said...

Very well said Hari!

Telugu Abhimani said...

Good one! Right perspective put forth. A key take away for rest of India/world.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Priyanka and Satish.

Hmmm said...

My moment of the day was when Dhoni twirled his bat right after the big final six. It was as if the magician had just completed his act, and took off his Hat to the cheering crowd, but also knowing internally that it was a job well done. I think at that moment MSD was so focussed that he may have realized he won the match, but forgot that it was the World Cup Final!

Harimohan said...

Hi Hmmm, Nice to have you back. Oh yes, the close up of his eyes following the ball was fantastic. One of those things you cannot forget.

Prasanna Kumar said...

Fantastic write up Hari. As always.


Harimohan said...

Thanks Prasanna.

Dr. Ranjani said...

As always Hari - good writing on a key victory for Team India but a lesson for all others.

Snowchoco said...

One of my favourite blog entries about the 2011 World Cup win! Had bookmarked it long ago. Came back to check it and super happy to see the blog still alive! Cheers!