“The @#$!%^ Aussies are going home!” read the SMS that I received just after India demolished Australia in the quarter-final of the 2011 cricket World Cup to send the defending champions crashing out of the multi-nation tournament. It was indeed a happy and gratifying day for Indian cricket.
During the build-up to this World Cup, just about everybody was talking about the opening game between India and Bangladesh and how the Indians would be looking to get their revenge from the team that had played a major role in their early exit from the biggest competition in cricket the last time around.
Back in 2007, Bangladesh had pulled off an upset win over the Indians that eventually resulted in Team India’s ouster from the quadrennial tournament, much to the disappointment of the millions of cricket crazy fans as well as the organisers (for different reasons of course).
So, this time when India were drawn to play Bangladesh in the opening encounter of the 2011 World Cup, both fans and journalists were ready with their ammunition. After India’s comprehensive yet predictable victory, there were numerous things said and written about the ‘revenge’ win. But, is that really what you call revenge? Is Bangladesh the team that can challenge India to a grudge match?
For me, it had to be something bigger...something that could heal the actual wounds of the past...something that could only be achieved by beating world champions Australia.
The moment of reckoning did arrive as India, after finishing at the second spot in their group, were pitted against the Aussies in the do-or-die quarter-final. And what a time Team India chose to return the favour. A defeat in the quarters meant that Australia’s decade long reign as the champions of one-day international cricket came to an abrupt halt.
For Indians, it was the perfect revenge!
As hard as I have tried to forget it, the haunting memories of that fateful 2003 World Cup final are still as fresh in my mind as it happed yesterday. Having courageously fought their way to the final, the Indians were just one step away from the ultimate glory. But, nothing could have prepared the fans for what transpired from there on.
Put into bat first, Australia’s devastating opening duo of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden put on 105 in just 14 overs, putting India on the backfoot straight away. But, that was just the start as skipper Ricky Ponting then went berserk and punished every Indian bowler to rake up a fine 140 not out and help Australia to an almost impossible 359.
Although India still had their turn to bat, the writing was on the wall. And, when Sachin departed after just 4 runs on the board, everyone knew that it was as good as over. 39 agonising overs later, Australia were crowned the champions of ODI cricket and all that was left for India was to ponder over what went wrong on that crucial day.
Every Indian cricket lover would clearly remember that arrogant Aussie way of celebration and Ponting’s ruthless assault on the hapless Indian bowlers.
What makes this victory even sweeter is the fact that Ponting was still there to witness the downfall of Australia and probably his own future as captain.
But, the battle is just half won and Team India have to now focus on the mother of all battles, against Pakistan in the semi-final. Let’s hope that can replicate their awe-inspiring performance.
I’m all set to pen down another triumphant article. Are you?