Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
In the history of any country's cricket, there are a few matches which have been crucial and affected the team's performance as well as fortunes for a long time. In the case of India, in one-day internationals, I can think of a couple of matches that have had a long-term impact on the Indian teams.
On the positive side, the first match would probably be the win over the mighty West Indies in Berbice, West Indies in 1983 a few months before the 1983 World cup. After that win the Indian team began to believe it could beat the West Indians, whereas earlier it was only a dream. Soon, the same team was beating the West Indies in the final of the Prudential World cup on 25th June 1983.
The other game is the Indo-Pak match at the Sharjah stadium in April 1986 when Javed Miandad hit that incredible last ball six off Chetan Sharma to win the game for Pakistan. Since then, Pakistan has held the upper hand over India in one day games especially at Sharjah. Fortunately, in the World cup India has never lost to them.
In this year's World Cup, India lost a match against Zimbabwe in the league stage from a winning position. And that loss haunted India throughout the tournament, eventually leading to the team's exit without qualifying for the semi-finals. The 2 points the team lost on that day proved very crucial as India were always under pressure since then. The rules of the tournament badly affected the team's chances and India were the first team in the super sixes to book their return tickets home....
As far as a post mortem goes, it must be said that the batsmen proved one thing - India does not depend on Sachin Tendulkar alone. Also at the beginning it was felt that the bowling was in good hands and it was the batting that was the worry but quite the opposite happened. The Indian batsmen scored the highest number of hundreds, and Rahul Dravid scored the highest individual aggregate of 461 runs in the World Cup (so far). All in all it was a fabulous display of batting by the Indians, especially during the mauling of the current World Champions Sri Lanka. All the batsmen clicked, even Azhar came good at the end of the tournament and it was a joy watching them bat.
The bowling didn't perform up to standard although to their credit the bowlers won us two crunch games against England and Pakistan, so we cannot accuse them of not delivering when it mattered. The biggest disappointment for India was the total lack of form of Ajit Agarkar, which however didn't prove too costly as Debashish Mohanty did a fine job as his replacement.
Mongia kept well in patches but was generally off colour and his batting definitely needs a change in attitude. He plays too safe for a batsman entering in the final few overs - at that stage wicket preservation is not the need, quick runs are.
Finally, there may be a case for Azhar to be replaced as a captain but as a batsman, there is no substitute for him at the moment. Amay Khurasiya has still got a long way to go before he can think of replacing Azhar and with our next tour of Australia in December, we definitely need Azhar's experience in the middle order. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE1999
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.