World Cups are turning points. Win one and the whole system could be electrified and lose one and heads may start rolling and the whole system could end up being reworked.
Here’s dividing Indian ODI cricket on the basis of World Cup years.
Stone Age 1975-83: India didn’t care for ODI cricket. We had played 10 series/tournaments outside India and lost all of them. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar once said that when they went for the 1983 World Cup in England they had no interest in winning and merely took it as a holiday.
That was the age when very few people thought that ODI cricket would eclipse Test cricket one day. Gavaskar scoring an unbeaten 36 off 174 balls in the 1975 World Cup symbolized this era perfectly. No wonder we didn’t even have a single win against a Test nation in the first two World Cups.
Golden Age 1983-87: If one match can change the destiny of a nation, then it has to be the 1983 World Cup final at Lord’s. The first nail in the coffin of Test cricket was laid here and so were the foundations for India to first take over the ICC and then its coffers.
India could do no wrong at that time. It won the mini World Cup in Australia, the inaugural Asia Cup and owned most tournaments in Sharjah. The confidence rubbed on to Tests too and we beat England 2-0 in England.
Bronze Age 1987-99: In terms of World Cups, this was a terrible era. In the 1987 semi-final, we crashed from 168-4 to 219 all down in pursuit of 255. 6/7 batsmen made in the range of 20-60 runs and threw their wickets away.
The 1996 semis were worse. We crashed from 98-1 to 120-8 before spectators stopped play with their violence. In 1992 and 1999 we failed to make the semis. However we won enough other tournaments to keep the fan happy.
We won the 5-nation hero cup in 1993, Sachin Tendulkar demolished Australia in Sharjah in 1998 and in the same year also we did a world record of chase 315 to win the third final of the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup with Pakistan.
Silver Age 1999-2007: From the ashes of the debacle of the leadership of Kapil Dev as coach and Mohammed Azharuddin/Tendulkar as captain coupled with the match-fixing scandal, Sourav Ganguly and John Wright took us to greater heights.
We entered the final of the ICC KnockOut tournament in 2000, won the ICC Champions Trophy of 2002 and entered the final of World Cup 2003. We were a much more competitive unit though we ended up choking in many finals. This era also had a sad end. The Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell spat ended both their careers and Rahul Dravid quit his captaincy in a huff.
Platinum Age 2007-15: When India were kicked out of the first round of the ODI World Cup of 2007 and Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and VVS Laxman were rested for the T20 World Cup and a new entity called MS Dhoni was given charge, most thought the end was near.
However what happened next can only be compared to the 1983 Lord’s final. Till then India didn’t care too much for T20s and the BCCI staunchly opposed it. However India’s victory led to a further change in world cricket and ultimately led to the IPL.
June 25, 1983 launched the ODI age. September 14, 2007 launched the T20 age.
It also became our greatest era ever. We reclaimed the ODI World Cup and wont the ICC Champions Trophy outright for the first time. We won our first triangular on Australia soil and our first bilateral series in New Zealand.
We started winning consistently in Sri Lanka and have become formidable at home.
In the last 13 ODI tournaments/series at home, we have lost just one. We also became the ICC No. 1 ranked team for the first time. So what next in 2015 and after? Will the Platinum Age continue or will we have a new one? We lost in the final of the 2014 T20 World Cup and semis of the 2015 ODI World Cup semis so you could say our decline may have started.
This is also the transition phase. Dhoni has handed over the Test captaincy to Virat Kohli and the ODI and T20 one will follow in time.
Will the Kohli era be better than the Dhoni era or be even as good? That is the Crore Rupee Question that fans are asking right now!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/