What a tournament it has been for Team India!
First, it was an impressive turnaround of form after failing to make the final of a tri-series in Australia, and then an anti-climax in the semi-finals when hopes were high.
Just over two months ago, it looked worrying for fans, knowing that India’s first two tournament games were their toughest, against Pakistan and South Africa.
A spectacular moment of redemption then followed.
They bullied the tournament like true champions.
After cleaning out the warm-up matches, India commanded their way convincingly throughout the tournament to reach the semi-finals.
They not only won seven matches in a row but also set a record of taking all ten wickets in each game. Undoubtedly, it was a laudable performance.
The hype and excitement of the semi-final clash against Australia reached elevated levels in social media circles. The hashtag ‘#wontgiveitback’ became a global hit.
However, the first hour of the clash brought back memories of the 2003 final between the same sides.
The early ominous sign was the bludgeoning of Indian bowlers by the hard-hitting Australian batsmen. Indian bowlers decided to join the short-pitch delivery bandwagon but seemed to forget that pace is a crucial component for this to work.
The Australians deposited these deliveries in the stands with relative ease.
By the 30th over, Australia had crossed 150 with nine wickets still in hand.
The writing was on the wall. India would have felt fortunate that they conceded only 87 runs off the last 10 overs. At one stage, a total over 350 looked imminent.
Australia’s 328 runs were a tough, although an achievable task. However, India’s chase was somewhat strange and submissive. They started well, albeit with a few lucky let-offs. When Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket fell at 76, India’s run rate was marginally over six.
But when Mitchel Johnson got the better of the animosity with Virat Kohli, there was a distinct shift in India’s approach. It was reminiscent of the days when Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket saw surrender by the rest of the team.
This was strange because we knew that this team was very different.
Despite a tougher chase, he came in his usual batting position but was slow in gathering runs- barely one run a ball. He seemed content to nudge ones and twos and by the time he started to attack, the asking rate had skyrocketed.
Unfortunately, the semi-final match was memorable for the wrong reasons.
But that should not take away the credit they deserve for putting up such a fantastic show.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) starts very soon.
I believe that the wound will heal quickly.