Cricket is probably unofficially the sport that brings my country, India, together irrespective of caste, creed, color, religion etc. The first quarter of the year saw Dhoni’s Men in Blue lift the ultimate prize in world cricket, the World Cup. This sparked off a series of celebrations on the roads which ran late into the night and made a billion+ people really proud! The Indian team had last won this prize way back in 1983! However, the last two months or so Dhoni and his men were probably not on the favorite list of Indian cricket lovers due to the Indian team’s visit to England where India got displaced from a the top spot and suffered a whitewash in the one-day series. But the favor was returned today as a Diwali gift to the English team in the form of the fifth consecutive defeat in the one-days series at Eden Gardens, Calcutta. Oh yes… The mediocre batting effort by the English middle order did help today!
For all the critics out there, India’s Captain Cool has proved again why his team deserves to hold the top spot and how the team can bounce back from a bad patch!
Saturday, 2nd April, 2011 – The stage is all set at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai for the grand finale of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Two teams with a cricket crazy population will be glued to their television sets and to top it all a country of over billion fans hoping that the cricketing icon of country, the Little Master (a.k.a. Sachin Tendulkar) enjoys the success of lifting the grand prize in what will be his second appearance at a World Cup Final. It would a fitting tribute to his illustrious career to lift the ultimate prize, which has eluded him so far, in front of his home-crowd. The first one was a massacre with the Aussies who decimated the Indian bowling and then their bowlers left the Indian batting line-up in tatters. That was nearly a decade (8 years back) which my fellow countrymen and I don’t want to be a witness to again.
The country is still getting over the Indian victory over Pakistan in the semi-finals, which I must say was one of very few high tension matches that I saw without any melodramatic gestures! (Was it because Shoaib was MIA?) You can still see the odd tweet or FB post regarding the victory. While that is happening, Dhoni’s men are gearing up for the big final tomorrow in Amchi Mumbai.
However, things are a bit different this time around. We were the ones who ensured that the Aussies watch the final on the television sets rather than in first person on the field. The disappointment is not just limited to India. The Sri Lankans also suffered the same fate against Australia 4 years back in the Caribbean. However, the Lankans have denied the Aussies once of the Cup way back in 1996.
There has already been a lot of talk leading up to this match on various topics like Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century, the Lankan team’s form, the Indian bowling attack and a bunch of humorous tweets and FB posts doing rounds!!
It has been an amazing performance by both teams and the dream run for one of them has to end on Saturday. I do hope the “Men in Blue” triumph over the Lankans!
Who had thought at the beginning of this year that the ICC World Cup 2011 would witness a showdown between India and Pakistan during the semi-finals. This match will probably be one of the most memorable cricket matches of this decade and a match which will be watched intently by nearly 1/6th or the world. Who said the game didn’t have viewership! Needless to say Facebook and Twitter shall be inundated with updates/comments regarding the match and emotions regarding the player performances which will just showcase the amount of passion that is there for this game in the sub-continent.
IMO India might have an upper hand in the batting department but the Pakistani team has a much stronger bowling attack than ours. It’s needless to say this as some of the Indian bowlers have made it difficult for us to determine which team they were playing for on match day! On the batting side, we have three of the most prolific run-getters this tournament. Our openers, Sachin and Sehwag, can decimate any bowling attack on the day the click. Both them firing on all cylinders will definitely do our chances of getting into the finals a lot of good. Yuvraj will definitely look to adding to his tally on his home ground!
On the other hand, the Indian bowlers, barring the exception of Zaheer Khan, don’t feature in the wicket takers list. However, Afridi and Umar Gul look to be in menacing form with the ball. This is one match that the news media doesn’t have to hype up as everyone is super-charged already about this match!!
It would be an amazing feat for Sachin…. Winning the World Cup at his home ground!! The man has done the country proud and deserves a World Cup which has eluded him for nearly two decades. The closest he got to it was the ICC World Cup Finals in 2003.
All Indians remember the last encounter between the two teams during the 2003 World Cup which most of my neighbors wouldn’t want to reminisce about. A memorable innings from the Little Master set the stage for Pakistan’s exit from the tournament. Incidentally, the same match saw a brilliant hundred from Saeed Anwar.
In their first meet at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 4, 1992, during the 16th match of the Benson & Hedges World Cup, India won by 43 runs.
Both teams met for the second time in the second quarter final match of the Wills World Cup 1996 played at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. India won that match by 39 runs and reached the semi final.
ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi finalist India and Pakistan met for the third time in the Super Sixes of the ICC World Cup 1999 at Old Trafford, Manchester. On that match India defeated Pakistan India by 47 runs.
For the fourth time, two arch rivals India and Pakistan met at SuperSport Park in Centurion, South Africa during the pool ‘A’ match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003. With a quick fire knock by Sachin Tendulkar and a brilliant 50 by Yuvraj Singh, India won the match by six wickets. Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 98 runs, was awarded with the man-of-the-match.
It doesn’t matter than the match is on a Wednesday but the two countries will come to practically a stand-still starting 2.30PM IST on Wednesday and most non-residents will have a tough time figuring out if it’s a national holiday! 30th March, 2011 may probably be one of the most unproductive days in India with corporate efficiency hitting an all-time low!
Here is an excerpt from an article which shows how big this sporting occasion is for both countries:
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed his satifaction over Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raja Gilani responding positvely to the offer of watching India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final match in Mohali.
For tomorrow’s match, I shall take solace from the fact that India has never lost a World Cup tie to it’s neighbors but all statistics are futile when the match starts as what happens on that day makes the news and everything else as they say is history!
Best of luck to the Men-In-Blue and hope we get closer to the dream of lifting the World Cup in India as the hosts and break the host-jinx!
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar par dil bolta hai ki Jeetega bhai jeetega, India zaroor jeetega.