I woke up at 3.30 am today. Got abuse from my poor wife who was sleeping like a normal person at that hour. Went and switched on the TV in the living room. Shami had just bowled a beauty to Finch. Cut him in half. Warner got out soon after. Our predicition was looking good. Then Steve Smith came in. And looked like he would bat all day.
This has been the Summer of Smith.
He has come a long way from the awkward, slightly pigeon toed leg-spinner in 2010 who didn’t know his a** from his elbow to become test captain of Australia. He has tormented the Indian team (and Indian fans) since 9 December 2014 when the test series started. And his peculiar brand of shuffly, twitchy torment continued today.
I’m not ashamed to say it – I went back to sleep during the Steve Smith-Aaron Finch partnership. That partnership was the game-breaker and even though we got some wickets at the end, India were way behind the game even before Mitchell Johnson’s 27 off 9 assault.
India flirted briefly with the idea of a miracle. One catch went down and one didn’t carry. Shikhar went after Faulkner like he was batting in Eden, not Sydney. But the pressure of chasing more than 6.5 an over in a knockout game got to the batting line-up. It was unreasonable to expect it not to. The end came quickly and sadly was more like Jo’burg 2003 than Motera 2011.
That said, Australia was quite clearly the better team. We were outclassed by a superior opposition who batted better, bowled with intensity and fielded superbly. Maxwell’s throw to run Dhoni out, which turned out to be the final nail in the Indian coffin, was simply outstanding.
In my opinion, there was no shame in losing to Australia today. We had a great run and got beaten by a team in form that was far better than us on the day. In all honesty, we would have had to play out of our skins to beat Australia anyway.
What has really disgusted me though is certain parts of the media’s reaction to our defeat.
Apparently it was a shame, a surrender, a humiliation, a disgrace.
Dhoni wasn’t committed. He didn’t cry like the South Africans. He batted like Misbah. He didn’t apologise to the Indian public.
Why should Dhoni apologise? The man has won more trophies than any other Indian captain before him. As a batsman, he has won any number of matches off his own bat (including the last World Cup final, lest we forget his 91* sealing the game with a six). MSD has given us a billion reasons to cheer. He has given us enough hope to keep watching until he gets out. Like today.
And you question his commitment? The man has been so busy trying to win India the World Cup that he hasn’t spent any time with his new born daughter!
And why does he not cry in public? Because Dhoni is Captain Cool not Vinod Kambli and thank God for that! As a leader, he was dignified in defeat and defended his teammates at the press conference. He cracked jokes about his own future.
He treated this disaster just the same as he treated that immense triumph in Mumbai.
That takes true courage. Respect.
My dad told me the other day that our generation seems to think that we have a “lien on winning”. That winning is everything. The only thing.
Naturally, as all good sons do, I disagreed with him then but today I think I see his point. For a team that wasn’t expected to get past the group stages when the tournament started, we had an amazing run as the only sub-continental team to have made the semi finals on bouncy Australian pitches. Remember, we were unbeaten until today. Not even Australia could say that.
But that is not enough TRP mileage for some people.
Maybe they’ve been spoilt by success. Maybe they don’t understand that the World Cup is at its core a contest between bat and ball played by human beings, not machines.
Someone wins. And someone has to lose. Life goes on.
Dhoni understand this.
As Indian fans, we should thank our stars we got this far. We can have the World Cup back some other time.
P.S. Can we please ban the Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli jokes and memes? Unfunny, sexist and basically stupid. Does your girlfriend/wife get blamed every time you have a bad day at work? Virat broke every batting record there was to break during the test series. Then he was a hero. Now people come up with weird theories about his filmstar girlfriend. It’s astoundingly lazy, do a little work for your kicks people!