India - Underdogs to World Cup Champions – In a Fortnight, But How?
When India lost in the first round in the World Cup I had written in my blog “Why India deserve to lose”. In that post I pointed out 2 factors that pull Indian cricket backward – one was the excess commercialization of cricket and other was the few players getting selected to the team not based on the present form but just on the basis of past performance. Now India has won the world cup and this post reflects the changes that happened since the World Cup in West Indies.
Coming to the first point – when Indian players left for West Indies, for the world cup, lot of business establishments in India used that as an opportunity to popularize their product. They did that by rousing the feeling of nationalism in the mind of common man. These advertisers made them believe that Indian team is going to come back with World Cup. What was the effect of this commercialization? The players were under tremendous pressure even before they landed in West Indies. The result of this pressure we all know – India lost in the first round of the tournament itself.
Now the team for the Twenty20 was not under any pressure when they landed in South Africa for the World Cup. The team flew directly from England almost unnoticed. This time thanks to India’s early exit from World Cup in West Indies, people lost interest in cricket and commercial establishments didn’t try to raise the passion of common man and thus the pressure on Indian cricket players. Indian players were able to perform without the burden of extra pressure from back home and they return with the World Cup. Now with all this success the commercialization is going to come in full force, back to square one. Hope it doesn’t happen.
Now coming to the second point – the few players getting selected based on the past performance rather than the current form and few being immune from being dropped from the team. Think about this – could India have lifted the Twenty20 World Cup had Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid were there in the team? If they haven’t made themselves unavailable BCCI should have surely selected them. If Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly were there definitely players like Rohit Sharma, Gambhir and Utappa might not have played in this World Cup.
When Rohit Sharma came to bat against South Africa, Indian score read 33/3. He played sensibly and scored 50* in 40 balls – a game changing innings in the context of the match. He followed it up with a superb fielding to run out the hard hitting Kemp that tilted the game in favor of India. Can you remember of an innings of Tendulkar in the “recent” past when he single handedly rescued India out of trouble. If Tendulkar was selected ahead of Rohit Sharma could we have won the match against South Africa?
I was arguing in my previous post that in the World Cup winning Australian team of 2007 there were only 5 players that played the 2003 World Cup while India had 9 players in the 2007 World Cup team (in WI) that played 2003 World Cup. Now see the Twenty20 World Cup – India had only 6 players that played the 2007 World Cup, WI –Sehwag, Utappa, Dhoni, Harbhajhan, Yuvraj and Agarkar. Among the 6 players Agarkar played just 1 match. Yuvraj and Sehwag didn’t play all the matches. The entire Indian bowling attack was new except Harbajhan Singh. The batting line up was also new with Yuvraj and Dhoni sharing more responsibility in the middle order. When the players were selected on the basis of form and not on the basis of past performance see the difference in performance!
Bottom line – this young team have won a World Cup for us and this victory is behind us. Players like Rohit Sharma who performed magnificently should be selected to the Indian team to play against Australia and Pakistan. If he fails to perform consistently he should be shown the door and a new player has to be taken in. Remember the Australian policy – even if you are the highest run getter (read Allan Border) or the most successful captain (Steve Waugh) you are out of the team if you are not performing – as simple as that.
Where does India go from here? Are we going to see over commercialization again? Are we going to see players selected based on past performance than the present form? Hope these two things won’t happen for the good of Indian cricket.
CONGRATULATIONS – TEAM INDIA – TWENTY20 WORLD CHAMPIONS 2007