Hindsight, as has been oft said, is a wonderful thing. But let us indulge perspective for a second. The last time the Cricket World Cup was held in Australia, we had a school-boy-looking Sachin Tendulkar facing the likes of Imran Khan, 23 years ago.
He has since gone, aiding us in winning the crown in 2011.
But it was almost used as a stick to beat the current crop with. No Sachin. No Yuvraj. Add nine more. Everyone across the media was quick to point out that only four of the fifteen selected to play in the finals had played in the 2011 version. Basically, not many gave this Indian team even an outside chance of getting to the semi-final.
And won over hearts they have. With Indian cricket not exactly in the middle of a rosy relationship with the media (Read Times Now and #ShamedInSydney) with the IPL episode, the men on the field have managed to redeem almost all of their credibility.
Dhawan is out of touch, Rohit barely lasts two minutes, Kohli is obsessed with Anushka, Ravindra â€˜Sirâ€™ Jadeja (letâ€™s leave it there) and even Dhoni seemingly became too cool and as usual we were bemoaning the lack of a pace battery to survive in Australia and New Zealand.
All of the above arguments were picked apart match by match by the men concerned and the highlight had to be the bowlers taking seventy seven wickets out of the eighty they were required to take.
Everyone knows what Mohit Sharma can do now. Theyâ€™re calling him the first-change bowler India never had. Umesh Yadavâ€™s pace had the best of them hopping and Shami kept plugging away. Until Yadav took four against the Aussies today, the man from Bengal had the highest wicket count for the Indian pace contingent with seventeen wickets.
The batsmen took their turns and shouldered responsibility when it fell their way. Be it Dhoniâ€™s cameo against Zimbabwe, Dhawanâ€™s hundred against South Africa, or Rahaneâ€™s innings in that game against South Africa too. Suresh Raina, whose sasuralâ€™s panchayat ordered the entire village to watch the final, came out shining also, scoring consistently throughout.
If at all there was to be a thorn to stick in the side, it had to be Australia. The former world champions had a strong, well-balanced outfit and took the Indian bowling to the cleaners today. And although the batting didnâ€™t exactly cover itself in glory either today, there has to be the feeling of surprise in the average Indian fan.
And as said earlier, not many expected them to clock these many miles in the tournament or overcome the bouncy Australian wickets and the green tops in New Zealand.
For those used to clamouring for and expecting a victory in every encounter, it had to be getting a bit mundane. This Indian team did something different.
It surprised, didnâ€™t disappoint.
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