Early yesterday morning, India’s Cricket World Cup campaign came to an end. They lost to a better Australian team who will go on to face fellow hosts New Zealand in the finals at Melbourne on Saturday. It was a long night punctuated by the occasional glimmer of hope but let us be honest. We over achieved our potential and peaked at the right time only to hit a wall in the form of Australia.
I could write a lot about what went wrong for India but I think that is beside the point. The Indian team was in tatters prior to the World Cup. It had a horrific Australian summer with very little to talk about. England, yes that very bad English team owned us in the tri-series. For that Indian team to win its first seven matches in this World Cup and bowl out every single opposition team was remarkable. Remember, this was the toothless bowling attack we shuddered to think about. This was the team that was going to start by losing to arch rival Pakistan and then follow up with a pummeling by South Africa.
I will be honest. This Indian team overachieved and gave me a very enjoyable World Cup. Every game was interesting and the team kept me engaged. The bowling was tight and significantly better than the one I am used to, the past few years. The fielding was solid. And the batting was reliable until the Australia game.
The Australian team was better than us in every regard. As much as I would have loved for the Indian team to have removed the look of arrogance in Starc’s face, we were simply outmatched. A total of 300 chase-able if we had kept the wickets. Dhawan, who was stroking the ball so well decided to give his wicket away. Kohli looked lost and Rohit Sharma never got into a reasonable groove. We didn’t rotate strike to keep the target run rate within reach and eventually collapsed under the weight of the chase. We could have played better but eventually we played a significantly better opponent and lost.
Dhoni did a miraculous job throughout the tournament keeping the team motivated and driven to win every single game. There were times when I thought his captaincy made all the difference. He will most certainly not play the next World Cup. For the 2011 championship and this year’s run to the SF, I am most thankful to his leadership.
There will be a sizable churn before the next World Cup but there is a core around which a team could be built to compete. I am optimistic for now. Plus there is always IPL and Chennai Super Kings has assembled a formidable team to compete like every year. A fun summer lies ahead. Chin up, boys. You did well.