Will all that “hype and hoopla” created for 2011 World Cup, become realty? Can Dhoni and his men try and live up to the expectations of their supporters, when they take on mighty Australia in quarter-finals at Ahmedabad on Thursday?
These are some of the questions disturbing the peace of mind of an average cricket lover in India and world over. They also continue to ponder over other questions like; “Who has to blame for the present plight that Indian team? – Facing Australia in quarters and later Pakistan in semis? Shouldn’t the team management shoulder the responsibility for their lack for foresight and complacent strategy?
Many cricket analysts are of the firm opinion that had India team had proper planning it could have not landed in the present mess. In fact, it could have won easily against South Africa as well against England. And undoubtedly the skipper Dhoni and the team’s think tank should take the blame for their messing up in these two matches.
Contrary to this, look at Pakistan team. Skipper Afridi is leading the team from the front and also pumping up confidence among his young colleagues. Pakistan has already won half of the battle in World Cup and their entry into finals now appears almost certain. Afridi’s performance with the bat and ball is commendable. If leader performs, others automatically fall in line. He can also enjoy the respect and support of his team mates. Afridi did not mince words while asking his men to perform to their potential after one of their league matches in Group A. At the same time, he never let them down when his services were needed most. Thus far, he established as one of the best Pakistani skippers, of course, after Imran Khan. Thus far, his stubbornness has helped the team to top the Group A table, defeating defending champions Australia effortlessly in their last league match.
But, sadly these qualities are missing in Indian skipper Dhoni, though he had been given the best team by selectors. No Indian captain can boast of such a team in the past World Cups. That may be reason why cricket greats like Clive Lloyd and Imran Khan, backed India as hot favorites!
Had Dhoni and his men were more disciplined in their group league matches, India’s journey to semis and finals could have become much easier. Had they topped the Group B they could have clashed with New Zealand in the quarters and encountered Australia in the semis?
But, now India has to face rejuvenated Australia under the captaincy Ricky Ponting. Though, Ponting team got thrashed in Ashes, yet it bounced back quickly to win one dayers that followed against England, prior to World Cup. The Ashes defeat, in fact proved as blessing in disguise for Australian team and its skipper. They started their World Cup campaign without any pressure. Now, Australian team is looking good and the wounded soldier Ponting appears more than determined to win the World Cup.
To me it looks, even if India beat Australia in the quarters, they have to face formidable Pakistan in semis. That’s yet another challenge that the Men in Blue might have to prepare themselves with.
Well, to win World Cup, one has to beat all teams, however strong their opponent may be. In that context, Dhoni and his men are expected to perform well to beat Australia at Ahmedabad and go to play Pakistan with much more confidence to storm into finals and cherish the dreams of millions of cricket lovers.