Friday, February 18, 2011

IT'S REVENGE TIME, FOLKS!

It's time to wipe those smiles off!
Virender Sehwag has already called it. The rest of the Indian team must be quietly admitting it. The opening match for India in their World Cup 2011 campaign against Bangladesh is no ordinary match... it is a 'revenge' match.

There was a time when such 'revenge' matches existed during the World Cup itself. During the 1983 and 1987 World Cups, each team played the others in their group twice. So if you were upset the first time round, you could seek revenge in the next match. In fact, in 1983, on the very first day of the World Cup campaign (June 9, 1983), West Indies and Australia were upset by India and Zimbabwe respectively.

But a week later, West Indies had their revenge on India on June 15... and Australia had their revenge on Zimbabwe on June 16. Eventually, this West Indian victory was lost in time because India managed to stun the defending champions in the finals at Lord's on June 25, 1983. It was a revenge for the revenge match!

Now at Mirpur, almost 28 years after that stunning victory, India seek to begin another World Cup campaign on a victorious note... against the hosts Bangladesh. While Bangladesh may be quietly confident of pulling off another win over their more-fancied neighbours to make in 2 out of 2 in World Cups, the Indians will be in no mood to let it happen.

A lot of members of the current Indian line up were also a part of that bitter defeat in their opening game of the previous World Cup... a defeat that threw their World Cup campaign completely off track! The other members, who were not a part of that team, must have certainly seen that match or followed it in some way or the other. All of them must have definitely felt the pain of that loss... either as players or as supporters!

The pain of a supporter is something I felt to a great degree. I was watching that match in a hostel... with a crowd of what must have been another 50 people. And what had started as a raucous day came to a very meek and silent end! I can still remember the people holding on to shreds of hope despite India being bundled out for a below-200 score. I can still remember the prayers that started getting louder and more desperate as Tamim Iqbal got Bangladesh off to a flying start. I can still remember those profanities that were being shouted at both the batsmen and the bowlers after every hit that reached the fence in the second innings.

Oh man, it was a heartbreak! There was anger in the eyes of whoever you met for a week after that loss and the loss later to Sri Lanka. Over time, in these intervening four years, that anger has subsided. Indian team won the Test Series in England, World Twenty20 Championship, the CB Series in Australia... then followed an unbeaten run in Test series' played at home and other wins as well like the Asia Cup and the Compaq Cup. There was also the rise to the World No. 1 in Tests and now, coming to the World Cup as genuine title contenders, the memories of that defeat against Bangladesh have subsided to a great extent.

But the feeling of hurt and humiliation that rose as a result of that loss always remained hidden at the back of everyone's heads. Now that the time has come to begin another World Cup campaign with a match against Bangladesh, the Indian team is expected to do nothing short of annihilate their neighbours. The expectations are huge and the pressure is enormous... but not without reason. The performances of the Indian team during these last 4 years have given the people a reason to expect... and a victory over Bangladesh in the opening encounter will be the beginning!

Sehwag termed Bangladesh as an "ordinary Test side" a little over a year ago... and now, he has termed this match as a "revenge match". I now hope that he does all he can as a part of his effort in this revenge (for more reasons than one - you see, he is also the captain of my Cricinfo Fantasy League team)! Come on now boys, ATTACK!

2 comments:

Govind Raj said...

Shridhar,

On the one hand you run a 'Save Tigers' campaign on your blog. And on the other you're asking our Men in Blue to attack the 'Tigers' !

What a paradox !

Shridhar Jaju said...

Lol, Govind! Good one!

SAVE OUR TIGER!