Gloves Off

Cricket World Cup 2015: Thank you, Team India

Let the MS Dhoni and his team be given a warm welcome when they return home.

 |  Gloves Off  |  2-minute read |   26-03-2015
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It has been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride following Team India at the ICC World Cup. On Thursday, as cricket fans, clerks, businessmen, students, office goers and Indians at large compromised on daily routines to get their fix from television and Twitter, the loss to Australia in the World Cup semis was saddening.

I had taken out my bleed blue India jersey, washed and smelling good. But once the Aussie batsmen started whacking the white ball batting like baseball batters cross-bat and all over the park, there was a tinge of sadness.

Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma had been inspirational in this tournament. But the brown Sydney pitch didn't look too good to bowl on as the ruthless Aussie batting led by Steve Smith exploded into brilliance.

This was like seeing an Aussie side which has been reborn under seasoned pro Michael Clarke's captaincy as at the start of the World Cup they looked jittery. There was harmful intent, aggression, passion and fire in the belly to get going against India to push them on the backfoot.

And when it came to the crucial last three overs of the Aussie innings, Mitch Johnson was unforgiving, whacking the ball all over the ground for 27runs off nine balls.

This one contribution put the match beyond India as chasing a target as big as 329 was mission impossible due to sheer pressure. The way the ODI game has changed, chasing big totals is not so difficult. But 329 was way beyond reach once wickets started falling. Shikhar Dhawan flopped, Rohit Sharma dug himself in shakily and then fell and the rest were not in a mood to slam big scores. One man stood there like a rock waiting to repulse the Aussie bowling - MS Dhoni.

Finisher par excellence and master captain, he knew he was fighting a losing battle, yet he did not show any signs of a defeatist attitude while batting. His half century in a cauldron like stadium was beautiful. Perhaps, this was the last time we were seeing the champion skipper play in the World Cup as India's 11-match winning streak came to an end in the World Cup.

Dhoni spoke eloquently on the journey in the World Cup and how this has been a long tour. Winning captain in 2011 and losing semi-final captain in 2015, this is a record worth its weight in gold.

For someone who has faced intense public scrutiny, this was a night Dhoni reminded detractors, Indians play from the heart for the nation and not the lure of the lucre.

You win some and you lose some is an old saying. Likewise, Virat Kohli may have flopped but he deserves to be saluted for the way he has played all these months Down Under.

They will not bring back the World Cup but they have left us with wonderful memories of beating gallant sides like Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and even Bangladesh.

Writer

S Kannan S Kannan @kannandelhi

Sports columnist.

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