Yes, India’s chances to win world cup after 28 years, is all set to become a reality. They are inching closer to accomplish the dreams of millions of their cricket fans. Dhoni his men made a promise to their fans – that’s to win this edition Cup and pay as true ‘tribute’ to`Master Blaster` Sachin Tendulkar, who is set to retire after the tourney.
Having beaten a formidable Australia in the quarters to liven up their hopes, it may not be that difficult for Dhoni’s boys to outwit Afridi’s Pakistan in their second semis at Mohali tomorrow. The match will be a real ‘cracker’ than the final as the two arch rivals clash amidst charged-up tensions among their fans in their respective countries.
Added to this, the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, made use of this as the best ‘diplomatic’ event to bring people of these two great nations together. His invitation to his Pakistan counterpart was accepted and Singh all set to host a dinner too to his ‘guests’ soon after the match at Mohali.
Back to the game. Though India started as hot favorites alongside South Africa and Australia, it lost to South Africa in their Group B match, while tied another with England. As a result, India lost the top slot to Proteas in their group. Many critics felt that it was the team’s captain and think tank’s short-sightedness forced them to face Australia in quarters and Pakistan in semis, to cruise forward to finals.
But, Dhoni’s boys proved them wrong, when they beat a formidable Australia with ease. Ultimately losing the toss proved ‘blessing in diguise’ as an Indian fan feels strong Indian batting line up can chase any target set by their rivals. This was in the wake of Indian bowlers yet to come to grips, except its speedster Zaheer Khan who already scalped 17 wickets to figure in top wicket-takers list of this edition World Cup so far. Ashwin, who was not tried in the first three games or so, proved an asset, though played late. Experienced Harbhajan is yet to come to grips. The only other bowler, who impressed so far is Munaf Patel
Well, India reached Semis and had to play against their arch rivals. Dhoni and his colleagues should treat this as ‘final’ and put up better show. As far as India is considered, they have a clean track record in their favor. Of the four matches played in the previous World Cups, India beat Pakistan effortlessly. Then, why not this time around at Mohali, where both the teams have to play under the watchful eyes of their Prime Ministers?
Dhoni and his men should not underestimate their rivals. Afridi is leading the team from the front reminding the days of Imran Khan, who won the Cup for Pakistan in 1996. The team is well composed with world class batsmen as well bowlers Akmals, Shoebs and Afridis.
One expects, both the teams play well to their potentials. They should play in friendly environs and prove all expectations wrong of enacting a ‘war like situation’. To me, both the teams look evenly balanced, but India has to have extra pressure from the massive crowds at Mohali stadium. Let us expect, thousands of our brethren from border areas of Pakistan, will join their Indian counterparts in the galleries, to cheer Dhoni and Afridi men providing entertaining cricket.