How the Pakistan loss can be good for India

Source :SIFY
Last Updated: Mon, Oct 25th, 2021, 16:15:37hrs
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The history of cricket world cups: be it One Day or T20, is littered with unbelievable comebacks. In 1983 Kapil Dev’s devils were looked down upon like you do Namibia today and in 1992 Imran Khan’s side was expected to flitter away after winning only half the matches and barely making it past the round-robin stage.

Yet, that is why people like and watch sports: because it is so unexpected, and because the spirit with which you play - besides your skills - has a direct impact on the outcome, something much more difficult in a team sport where the hunger for victory must percolate through the team.

Indian fans are understandably down after our loss to Pakistan yesterday. There’s such a build-up before every India-Pakistan match, especially in the world cups, that to many fans, the whole tournament revolves around just this one contest. But that’s a mistake.

Much as we would like to believe, even the world of cricket with limited countries playing it still does not revolve around just India and Pakistan. Of 200 odd nations, only a couple of dozen countries play, only a dozen play it really well. Besides, in a global event like the T20 World Cup, one loss is irrelevant if one takes the lessons from it to march ahead positively.

That is where the loss against Pakistan could actually be good for the Indian squad.

Virat Kohli-led India is such a good team that we are one of the favourites to win the tournament. We have the best batters and bowlers in the world. Not only are most of the players fresh and in form from the IPL, we even won our warm-up games with a full stamp of authority.

What could inspire such a side to perform better? Yesterday’s comprehensive drubbing by a charged-up Pakistani side was that kick that the Indian side needed. The body language of the Pakistani players after the match – Mohammad Rizwan’s subservient hug of the mighty Virat Kohli, the team’s hands behind their back schoolboy like reverence while talking to MS Dhoni – was proof who is the boss of the format: India.

But no matter how good you are considered, you are only as good as you have performed on the day. And though the Pakistan team performed exceedingly well, India’s performance wasn’t at par with what you expect from a side that hopes to lift the World Cup.

Openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul knew that the Pakistani bowlers would attack their weaknesses. Yet they fell right into the trap. Didn’t the Indian bowlers think of attacking the weaknesses of the Pakistani openers? And doesn’t Kohli know that sometimes when a batter thinks that he has read a bowler – usually in the first over – that he gets overconfident, plays risky shots, and gets out in the next over of the same bowler. But this can happen only when you give the bowlers a second over right after the first before the batter has settled in – something that Kohli didn’t do in the powerplay. And where were the deadly Bumrah yorkers, or the famous Shami swing?

There is a lot of soul-searching India needs to do. The trick to winning is often to merely stick to the plan. The shuffling of bowlers didn’t seem like the plan but more a panic button pressed, experimentation right at the beginning. Even in an impatient sport like T20 cricket, patience and calm confidence is still the name of the game.

There were some positive takeaways as well. Kohli was in sublime touch which bodes well for India. And in the match presentation, he said that this was only the first match and there was no need to lose heart over it, which is a positive way to look at it.

There would be people in India who’d argue that winning against Pakistan is winning the world. I must remind these people that this is not only defeatist thinking but faulty. That’s because neither is Pakistan the world, nor is it even the best side yet. It could be that the world of those fans – triggered by news channels – revolve around Pakistan. If that is the case, the Indian cricket team owes nothing to these short-sighted supporters.

What is important from the Indian perspective, is to go as far deep into the tournament as possible. The love of fans would be rewarded aptly if King Kohli lifts the World Cup for the nation. Even if the team were to lose, we’d want them to go down giving their best, fighting their hearts out. And for them to be able to do that, they need the support of all of their fans.

In this present moment though, India can take inspiration from the 1992 World Cup. India won only two of their matches despite being a contender for the cup: one against minnows Zimbabwe and the other against Pakistan. And we all know what the Pakistan team won despite their initial losing streak: the World Cup. And eventually, that’s what matters: the World Cup, not losing initial games.   

(Satyen K. Bordoloi is a scriptwriter, journalist based in Mumbai. He loves to let his pen roam the intersection of artificial intelligence, consciousness, and quantum mechanics. His written words have appeared in many Indian and foreign publications.)

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