Vantage point

Sunday, March 23, 2003

The Charge has Ended

People here are absolutely devastated that we lost the finals. Nobody had even considered the possibility of an Australian win...I wonder why. I guess when our players play well, we support them a tad too much and when they lose we bash them a tad too hard.

In general, I have realised how emotionally demanding a World Cup can be just on us imagine what the Indian team must be going through at the moment. They came back from a hopeless position, they beat good teams comprehensively, and they played quality entertaining cricket, discovering themselves in the process. Yes, we were found wanting on the day that counts the most. In the eyes of those cricket "fans" who go only by World Cup results, we are losers. But one should realise that this World Cup has helped our team grow a lot. After all the earlier World Cups, except for 1983, the Indian team always came back having lost just more than the cup. They would be devastated, battered, bruised, humiliated....and often jeered. This time though, I dare say the team can come back with its head held high. They gave it their best and were beaten by a better team....twice, in case anyone forgets.

The gains have been handsome. The Indian pacemen have a new found confidence and attitude that will not (hopefully) wither away after just one thrashing. While they are no Aussies yet in that department, they are key players now, with Srinath, Zaheer and Nehra all having one Man of the Match each. The Indian batting has shown that it can do its job even when Tendulkar departs. Hopefully we won't have any more "Chennai 99"s happening. The middle and lower order helped win the matches against Pakistan, Kenya (Super Six) and New Zealand even after Sachin was dismissed with the opponents having a good chance to claw back. In fact today as well, though the margin of 125 runs does not indicate so, we chased pretty decently. It was not like Sachin fought alone, and when he fell, everyone withered away. Everyone tried their hardest. What is heartening for me is, until the 7th wicket fell, the Indian team seemed to genuinely believe that they could still win. They were not just going through the motions as if they had resigned themselves to defeat. They were fighting hard.

After all, next to victory, that is what we want from our team, right? And on that front, there can be no complaints. Ganguly hit McGrath for a six over point and even pulled him for a four, something you would have dismissed as science fiction 2 years ago. Sehwag played a gem of an inning in the final match, and until he was run out, looked very capable of pulling it off against the Aussies. Dravid was scoring briskly, and even Yuvraj and Mongia were quite OK.

India has always been a good batting unit. We have chased 300 plus scores 4 (or is it 5) times after all, which is more than any other team. What made our team reach this far was the bowling. Unfortunately it fell apart in the final. Once that happened, winning it was always going to be an uphill task. But still, the effort we made was fantastic.

So while the fair-weather fans of Indian cricket, who look at it as some sort of an outlet for their arm chair patriotism will be furious and curse Ganguly for electing to field, or Zaheer and Srinath for bowling so atrociously, or Tendulkar for falling cheaply in another final, I choose to not react so stupidly. I am happy with the postives that World Cup 2003 has given the team. I am proud of them for making a fight out of it, and being in the hunt till the last match of the tournament. And inspired by my friend Pushkar's MSN display name, I will end my post with this famous poem -

The Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.