Hapless people with broken hearts watched as India succumbed to yet another embarrassing defeat at the hands of the not-so-strong West Indies, and all but crashed out of the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean.
Having won the toss and surprisingly electing to field first, India were put on the backfoot as Chris Gayle’s onslaught took the Windies to a challenging total. Chasing 170 to win, the Indian batsmen seemed ‘scared’ and never looked comfortable in front of the chin-music dished out at them by the West Indian pacers, surrendering rather meekly in the end.
It was yet another occasion when I cursed myself for being madly in love with a game like cricket, where we would end up losing more often than winning, for I watched the game not as a journalist or a cricket writer but as a common man, an Indian cricket lover who would stay awake till late in the night, simply to watch the game he loves and hope that the bunch of men playing out there on the field
would give him a few moments to cheer.
But Alas! Sunday, like plenty of other days, was not to be the occasion. With a heavy heart I switched off the television. I could feel what a hundred crore Indians felt, a sense of anger, disappointment and frustration.
A few moments later, as I dozed off, there were questions that remained answered. Queries like why on earth did a player like Ravindra Jadeja was persisted-with in the team despite his match-losing performance in the previous game against Australia? Why did Dhoni take a defensive decision of electing to field first yet again despite being familiar with India’s dismal performance while chasing even a modest total under pressure? And most of all, why did we lose?
It may sound a bit clichéd after so many defeats and so many articles but I would have to reiterate that losing is not a big deal if you go down fighting. But the way India lost to both Australia and West Indies without even a hint of fight was what actually resulted in the unbearable pain.
"Batting was our strength. Chasing 170 wasn`t impossible. But our batting, despite being long, failed against the West Indian pace battery. Once again, we were found lacking in technique to play the short ball. It was obviously disappointing," skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said after Sunday’s depressing show.
Dear Mr. Dhoni, it is all good to say that the ‘boys’ failed to counter the short pitched deliveries and that they were found wanting in technique etc. etc. but the fact is that we are sick and tired of such lame excuses. What the fans want is not high-sounding words in a press conference but solid performance out on the field.
What hurts even more is the fact that no so long ago we saw this very bunch of guys giving it their all in a certain domestic but cash-rich tournament called the Indian Premier League. The same question raises its ugly head again. Do the guys play just for money and the emotions and pride of the countrymen hold little meaning for them….I hope not.
Even if they were tired and worn-out after playing non-stop in the IPL for almost two months, there should have been a fight and a strong will to succeed ‘cause these players are the chosen ones and are expected to be successful whatever the circumstances.
However, life has to go on and like true cricket lovers and patriots, we vow not to be deterred by such defeats and will continue to support our ‘Men in Blue’ come what may (like we have been doing for the past many years). The only demand though is that they too should play out of their skins to ensure that the fans leave the ground not with their heads hanging low but the tri-colour proudly fluttering.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)