What an effort by IND. Frankly, I never expected IND to beat AUS. Why did I think that? For one, AUS is the 3-time (!!!) World Cup Defending Champion. Their only loss in the past 4 World Cups have been that loss to PAK recently. AUS is one team that does not panic. So, all things considered, I was not too hopeful about this match.
Well, I must say thanks to my friends like Ram Nair, Ramakrishna Joshi etc. who seemed very confident that IND would beat AUS and enter the Semi-Final. (I was left thinking what these guys were smoking 🙂 But, boy, were they right. Thank you to all the FaceBook friends who made the match very interesting with insightful comments.
Managed to lose 5 pounds while just sitting around! What a medical break-through. If this is how my future looks like, as a cricket fan, beware of my perfect 6-pack abs in a few months. (As some of you know, I stayed away from Cricket, totally, from 2007 Spring till 2010 Dec. Why? IND’s great performance in 2007 Cricket World Cup. That is why).
My thoughts from the incredible match:
(01) Yuvraj Singh: He is my favorite player from the current India Team. Yes, he has had lots of attitude issues lately and has been appearing in the gossip columns for all the wrong reasons. To boot, the guy has put on a lot of weight and walks like a duck! But can he hit the cricket ball. I never expected him to be the “Strike Bowler” for IND. But there he is, taking wickets regularly, doing quite okay as a fielder (Keep in mind that he was THE premier fielder in IND team a while back) and then, his batting. I scoffed at his 50s against IRE and NED, thinking that he was bullying minnows and would fail against good opposition. Then he plays this innings. Imagine the pressure on him and Raina when Dhoni fell at 187. Though he had his share of nicks and swipes, all in all, a great innings under pressure. Yuvraj is the man of the hour, tummy and all.
(02) Ashwin is doing pretty well. Dhoni was talking sense when he kept mentioning Ashwin as the “surprise package”. I was pleasantly surprised that AUS found it tough to get him away with the fielding restrictions active.
(03) I was thanking the following players for putting us in the Quarter Finals: Zaheer, Kohli, Yuvraj and Sachin. Interestingly, all 4 played pretty well today. Though Kohli did not score big, atleast he prevented a huge collapse and put together a small partnership with Gambhir. Dude, better pay attention to the shots you are getting out to. This is the 2nd straight rank bad shot he has played to get out, when he was seemingly well set.
(04) A thought out to Suresh Raina. Imagine the pressure on the poor guy. Outside of the good catch he took, he played a gem of an innings, coming out when IND was 187-5, with he and Yuvraj being the last line of defense! More on Pathan later …
(05) Yusuf Pathan. Now, I must admit I have not watched his “great” innings (the ones I hear so much about, in SA). There was so much hype about the guy and there was such huge applause when he walks out to bat. Commentators were going on and on about how it was a “bad decision” to leave out “tough” Pathan. I am sure one match where Raina did good is not a fair indication of how much IND might need Pathan. And there is no saying that Pathan would have failed today. But having said that, there is no denying the fact that the guy has underperformed (to say the least) in the World Cup. His bowling and fielding are so-so. He is too one-dimensional (based on what I have seen) to be consistently good against quality bowlers. 20-20 hitting and playing a couple of innings in a series (against SA) when the entire cricketing world was already focussing on the World Cup (IND did not even play its top players in that series), is not the best indication of his “greatness”. I frankly do not see the “greatness” yet. Maybe he will prove me wrong in future. If so, I gladly look forward to it … I wish him the best.
(06) Zaheer, you have been a revelation man. Again, please get rid of that tummy. You are making crores of money, have a lot of talent, people adore you, and you cannot spend 30 minutes in the gym??? But still, what a performance in this World Cup so far. Please do not lose it in the SFs and Finals, like you did in the 2003 World Cup Final against AUS. Zaheer, Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Ashwin. Maybe the IND bowling is not as bad as I thought 🙂
(07) I was most nervous when Dhoni got out at 187-5. By the by, whatsup with Dhoni? Is the pressure getting to him? He seems to have shed his “Big Hitter” image and has morphed into “The Wall”. Bodes well for Test Cricket though. I feared that we were about to see the famed IND March-Past. Everybody line up! … Luckily, Yuvraj and Raina kept their cool.
(08) The key to this chase was the calmness with which the chase started. For that, we have none other to thank than the great Sachin Tendulkar. Imagine the weight on the guy’s shoulders (and every team member’s for that matter), with all the hoopla over his 100th Century. He got the team off to a steady start and more importantly, helped calm Gambhir who was as nervous as Rohan Bopanna playing Rafael Nadal at French Open. Gambhir, then went on to play a very good innings (What was all that crazy running at the end about?).
(09) A thought out to Ponting and Lee for a tremendous effort. One could have seen the fire and passion in their eyes and they were like a 2-man AUS team. Kudos to a great champion, Ponting! Great career! One of the best players and captains ever! (Though it was weird to see Ponting lecture Raina about “blocking” Haddin’s view during some running between the wickets. I thought the guy was all for grasping every single opportunity one can get).
(10) Finally, it was nice that he got to do something other than:
– Bringing out the drinks
– Adjusting Sachin’s thigh-guard
– Bringing out Yuvraj’s bat
Who am I talking about? The one and only, Sreeshanth! Today I saw him clapping and getting amped up about the team’s performance. Poor guy. One bad over and he is the laughing stock (and butt of all kind of jokes) of the Country. Bigger butts like Munaf and Nehra and Chawla walk around boldly …