So, India have done it again: Broken the record streak of yet another country. In the 1983 world cup, we stopped the West Indies right in their tracks and ended their eight-year reign as world champions. The Windies are probably yet to recover from that blow!
In the current world cup's second quarter-final match, they ended Australia's 12-year reign as world champions. Wonder when the Aussies will recover from that blow!
But it's not just the World Cups. When South Africa went 20 ODIs without a loss, their streak was stopped by an India. Australia has won 16 consecutive Tests twice. On both occasions their 17th Test defeat was with India. The first resulted in VVS Laxman's stellar 281 at Kolkata. The second one led to the amazing Perth victory following the contentious monkey-gate controversy at Sydney.
But maybe it's enough of streak breaking. India should now start making the victory streaks themselves.
The giant-killers eventually have to become giants.
Even David had a long reign as king after he slayed the giant Goliath.
The end of a glorious era
But the curtains have come down on the greatest team in the history of cricket. The Aussies beat the Windies 2-1 in the 1995 Test series. They won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2009. In between they won more world cups, tournaments, ODI and Test series than any other team ever. Their batting plundered the best of attacks and their bowling battery felled the greatest of batsmen.
It may be curtains for Ricky Ponting, but his victory statistics are amazing. He has won 48 Tests as captain. He has been involved in three winning world cup campaigns, two as captain. Most players would die for such a record. History will be much kinder on Ponting than the flak he is facing from media, commentators and fans right now.
So who will be the next long-term overall champions? India and South Africa are two of the best candidates. But first the 2011 World Cup will have to be won before such a campaign can begin.
Indo-Pak time again!
So it's another Indo-Pak knockout and tensions will be high on both sides of the border on March 30. The two have met four times in an ODI world cup and twice in a T20 world cup. India has won on all six occasions! Dhoni & Co. will be very keen to take that count to seven.
While Pakistan did win the 2009 T20 world cup, India has definitely been more consistent than their rivals. We edged past them to win the Asia Cup and our triangular series wins in Australia and Sri Lanka were some standout performances.
India also generally handles pressure better. In this tournament, like on numerous many occasions, the Indians raised their performance when it was most needed. They looked listless in the leagues, but had the much tougher opponent in Australia. They won by 5 wickets with 15 balls to spare in the end.
Pakistan has reached here, among other things, on the back of Shahid Afridi's brilliant bowling. But the Indians are the best players of spin the world and they have to deliver in just two more matches.
Interestingly, most of the matches haven't gone for 300 runs as some had predicted. It's a 250 run tournament. Going at even 5 an over will win you matches. That's where Yuvraj Singh has scored, averaging more than 100 runs. That's where Yusuf Pathan has failed. So it was not that much of a surprise when Suresh Raina replaced Yusuf in the crucial tie with Australia.
Interestingly, as far as Pakistan is concerned, they have dominated us in the decade from 1986-95. In that period we won just 4 of the 25 matches we have played against them! The slide was started by Javed Miandad's last ball sixer to win the 1986 Sharjah Cup. At one stage India never looked like recovering from that blow.
After that we have clawed back and usually an India-Pak match would mean a 50-50 verdict. However, in the last 5 years, we lead them 11-7. More importantly, we have won most of the crunch matches against them.
So here's looking forward to maintaining our 100% world cup record with Pakistan and making it to the final for the third time ever!
If the Indians can hold their nerve, they should make it!
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.