Twenty20 World Cup.
India did well enough to win the final. Sport can be so cruel sometimes, and one feels sad for the Pakistanis. Still it must be said that India deserved better to win. They kept taking wickets and controlled the middle part well and really had only two bad overs (17th and 18th by Harbhajan and Sreesanth). Anyway this is sport and in the end India will have the happier memories.
As I wrote in the last post, I am not a big fan of Twenty20 cricket. Even putting aside the personal taste, I find the reception in India way out of proportion. Granted this is a "world cup". Granted Twenty20 may be the thing for the future. Still, I find any comparison to 1983 world cup triumph quite silly, to be honest. The surrounding atmosphere, the level of intensity of the teams, the prestige attached to this world cup are all nothing compared to the "real" world cup of 50-overs. While this remains a creditable performance from a young and inexperienced team under a bold captain, there is no need to magnify the credit. Indeed, the current tendency of the TV channels to endlessly telecast images of ecstatic fans celebrating India's "great win" and screaming that "they are proud to be Indians" has the same roots as their tendency of six months ago to continuously telecast images of "irate fans" destroying Dhoni's house and burning Yuvraj's effigies. The space for balanced and sober journalism is fast shrinking in India.
This is a truly significant win for India for its showcasing of the future possibilities. For the most of the last decade and half it is fair to say that India was carried on the shoulders of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. They all served the team skillfully and it will be hard to produce more entertaining and dominating cricketers. Hoever, with the first three hovering around 35 and the last just shy of 37, time has certainly come to think ahead. Indeed, this was a major thing on any serious Indian fan's mind. It is in this context that this triumph is significant.
The oldest member of the 15 for this world cup is Agarkar at 29 and the average age is 23.86. Among the eleven players who played the final, the oldest is Harbhajan at 27 and the average age is 23.72. Clearly this is the team for the future. At 18, 21, 22 and 24, Piyush Chawla, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth respectively are the bowlers for the future. At 20, 21, 22, 26, 26, and 26, Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir are the batsmen for the future. It is not an exaggeration to say that selectors have their hands full figuring out which three to drop to accommodate Sachin, Sourav and Rahul against Australia.
A final word about Dhoni, the captain. He was impressive. It is dangerous to pass judgements immediately after a close win. But I believe that close win owed as much to Dhoni's smart on-field captaincy as to happy jelling of every part. He did not shy away from running down to bowlers to have a word or two after they were hit for sixes and on the whole carried himself with a serene confidence.
A run of four victories in do-or-die matches, three of them against the very best, laced with spectacular batting, efficient bowling, and uncharacteristically tidy fielding, ends with India as champions. Their greatest triumph? No. But possibly a setting stage for one.