The Cup of pride

Criticism had begun to pour in since the day India defeated the Windies in the group match to enter into the Quarter finals of the world with a win and confidence boost. Turn on the television, surf the news channels, and one could see players from all across the continents discussing about every teams performance throughout the world cup and how is that going to effect the Quarter finals or the /knock-out stage of the World Cup 2011. It was quite strange to see certain Indian cricketers who had themselves not been as successful as they could have been to be part of the panelists on the news channels. Possibly, that’s the only worth thing that they can do presently i.e. criticize the Indian team’s performance, of which they had been once a part off; however were not able to shine like the stars.

The team that was being seen as the favorites at the beginning of the World Cup were soon losing their sheen of “favorites” due to some dismal performances in the group games despite winning those games as well. While the Indian Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was being criticized for opting for Ashish Nehra in the final over of the South Africa vs. India match; he was very smart in shifting the blame on to the batsmen who were playing to “please the crowds.” However hard Dhoni tried, he had to come out strong in their final group match against the West Indies after losing the almost won match against South Africa, their first loss in the World Cup 2011.

India beat the West Indies in a game that was seen as important for the team in order to enter the quarter final on a high note. But it did not end there itself. The real challenge was yet to come for the team in the Quarter final stage where they were facing the three times defending champions Australia. A team that showed no signs of being the world champions in the present season of the World Cup. A day before the India-Australia tie, our neighbor country, Pakistan pulverized the West Indies team by a massive ten wickets. Pakistan has been one team in this entire World Cup season that has proved its worth by showcasing an all-round performance. Be it bowling, fielding or batting, Pakistan outshined the West Indies in every sphere in the Quarter-final game. It was not just this Quarter-final but all throughout the tournament, Pakistan has performed exceedingly well and has come out strong to be one of the contenders of the “cup of pride.”  One can now wait and watch with baited breath as the arch rivals meet the coming Wednesday in Mohali for the Semi-finals that will decide the fate of either of them as to who enters the final of World Cup. It could be India, it could Pakistan.

Coming down to the Indian side, it was not a strange sight to see all the news channels flashing stories of Pakistan’s comfortable win against the West Indies and side by side also flashing the importance of the second Quarter-final between India and Australia. Several Hindi news channels had news popping in “Pakistan has done it, Can India do it?.” I could not help but laugh at the sight. It seemed more than the Quarter-final, it was matter of pride for the Indian side to win against Australia because their neighboring country, who was never seen as the favorites, had already reached the semis.  One can very well imagine what could have been the pressure on the Indian side. It was a “do or die” situation for them. Not only India, but also for Australia who had not been in their excellent form in the World Cup. Australian captain Ricky Ponting has drawn flack from all corners of the cricketing world. His captaincy has been questioned and so has the team’s performance. The Australians did not exhibit the same aggression and passion that was once a major attribute of the team and had made them the World Champions.

As the two teams set out to play in the knock-out stage of the tournament in the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, all eyes were glued to the television sets. The whole country was watching and so were others outside India. There was a hint of fear as to what could be the outcome of the match. With India, anything could happen. They have never played a match without giving the jitters to its fans watching the game. There was a level of confidence evident from the body language of the Indian team. The Australians on the other side were trying to set their mark as well. With the stadium full of Indian Cricket lovers, it could surely have been a daunting task for the Australians as well. India with the “home advantage” had to cash in the points.

The all-round performance by every player set India on the right track and helped them in successfully beating the defending champions of the World Cup. It was evident on the face of every Australian player, a distraught, down and out look on the faces of the Australian cricketers was enough to explain what was going on in their minds. On the other hand, the final winning run of the game hit by Yuvaraj Singh and his consequent reaction after he played the shot, bore a strong impression as well as aggression. Yuvaraj  Singh has proved his credentials in the ongoing World Cup and has thus silenced his critics who had once thought of dropping out of the team. He has become the match-winner of the Indian team and is grooming match by match. Be it bowling, fielding or batting; his overall performance has seen India crown to glory. All one can hope is that this aggression should not die down and move on to their coming matches.

With India ending the Australian reign on the World Cup and setting itself a semi-final match against the arch rivals Pakistan; all eyes will now be on India; who have bounced back to become the favorites. Beating the defending champions has already boosted the confidence of the team, now they would just need to hold on to their nerves and play a good match against Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that by defeating Pakistan in the semi-final; India would have won half the World Cup for its country, as India-Pakistan matches are no less than a World Cup final match. All eyes will be on the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar in the semi-final; Will he get his 100th ton against Pakistan? Will India beat the Pakis and set itself for the final clash? Will India come out strong and win the World Cup 2011? Well, Just wait and watch, for next Wednesday in Mohali is going to be one clash that the entire country had been waiting to catch a glimpse of.


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