First World cup since 1996 in the subcontinent, first time since then the ICC cricket WC is going to start with Australia as not clear favorites. It is a no brainer that it is an open tournament with 4 teams going for it, namely India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia with England being a close fifth.
India had put up a decent to good show since 1996 forgetting the forgettable 2007 in Caribbean. Everybody remembers the tearful Kambli, the stumping of Sachin in the 1996 edition and unforgettable riotous Calcutta crowd of that year. That is the World cup from which I remember watching cricket. But for people in my age group, the close shave world cup of 2003 is the most memorable. The unforgiving cramped Sachin smashing Akthar is still in everyone’s mind. It had everything for an Indian victory, a comeback after initial sad show, a close victory over a minnow and a losing cause against Aussies in the group stage, from then, under DADA, Indians regrouped and was on a roll winning everything in front of them. Until the final.
But even for the final, everything was on India’s favor, a revenge for Group defeat, feather on Sachin’s over crowded cap, Best Indian team ever under Dada, Best captain ever. Even mathematicians vouched for an Indian victory
1975 &1979 4 years difference and WI winning twice
1987 & 1999 12 years difference and an Aussie victory
1983 & 2003 20 years difference, an Indian victory. The permutations said so. I thought Math never lied.
Alas, fate/destiny/life had different plans. The fate of the game was decided on the first over of each innings. Two Indians from the state of Maharashtra dwindled and succumbed, Zaheer Khan and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
Check out the following first over results.
8 years had gone by that moment, Zaheer khan is the spearhead of Indian attack again. And Sachin is better than he ever was, 175 and 200 last year in the very few ODI matches he played. Remember?
Sachin has endured lot more pain than anybody in terms of World Cup, the Stumping in 1996 Semis, Death of his father during 1999, The sad end to his “Man of tournament” performance of 2003, forgetful 2007 before the WC even started. Zaheer on the other hand had been marred by injuries over the last “so-many” years. But he is back.
On paper, India is the strongest(as usual). Can these two turn the table before the home crowd in Finals at Mumbai, Maharashtra? Can they make a revengeful come back?
Nervous? Tensed? Fingers crossed? Sachin’s last chance? Can the others do it for Sachin? Can team India do for the cricket crazy Blue Billion?
But I can hear the crowds roar not just in Delhi, but from Dhaka to Dambulla. A man’s name..
-Santhosh K Ramachandran