DC Edit | Team India triumph in T20 WC, cricket the real winner

There was a flood of tears after Team India held off South Africa in a pulsating final of fluctuating fortunes. An 11-year wait for a significant ICC event cup victory had built up the emotions in a cricket-crazy country so much that grown sportsmen wept tears of joy on a sunny afternoon in Barbados in the Caribbean.

As South Africa went down gallantly in pursuit of a gettable target, tears of sorrow were shed too. But Team India was the superior combination amongst the two unbeaten sides that reached the summit of a representative T20 World Cup of 20 teams in which freshers like the USA and Afghanistan performed way beyond expectations.

There were match-turning moments in the final that swung the game the way of the favourites India after they had recovered from early losses on a good pitch as Virat Kohli expertly anchored the innings, relying more on temperament than ball-striking talent, even as a vastly underrated all-rounder in Axar Patel steadied the boat.

A momentum-snapping injury time out as India wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant was tended to saw Heinrich Klaasen, who seemed determined to take South Africa storming to the target in style, get out off the bowling of Hardik Pandya. An extraordinarily composed catch on the boundary rope by Suryakumar Yadav off Pandya again sending David Miller back to the pavilion and some smart seam bowling by man of the series Jasprit Bumrah and Arshdeep Singh saw India prevail by seven runs in a thriller.

Team India had been competitive in varying conditions, from the bowler-friendly drop-in pitches of New York and Miami, USA, to the more batting-conducive surfaces in the West Indies, its batters putting up defendable totals, no matter whether they were high or low and the fielders generally performing way beyond their known lack of alacrity.

So good was the bowling, particularly by the spinners early on and then the pacers in the knockouts, led by the inestimably good fast bowler “Boom Boom Bumrah”, that India became the first to win a T20 World Cup unbeaten. Having ridden out stormy times as well as highs in their long careers, skipper Rohit Sharma and former captain Virat Kohli announced their retirement from T20 internationals, judging this victorious campaign to be the best time to call it quits.

T20 is more of a team game than the two other formats that offer even more scope for individual performances. To shine in it, Team India had to reinvent themselves somewhat and a kindly skipper in Rohit who also showed the way with selflessly aggressive batting helped with his inclusive and calm approach and coach Rahul Dravid with his sheer persistence. The stars and the bits-and-pieces men shone to get Team India its fourth World Cup, two apiece in T20 and ODI formats.

The event may have been tailored to Indian primetime TV viewership by a pliant ICC, beholden to Indian cricket for most of its riches. But Team India repaid the faith of a billion fans with a performance across trials and tribulation to induce national pride even if there should be no place for jingoism in sport.

Former champions West Indies, Australia and England struggled to be consistent and were often caught short in T20 cricket that is tailormade for David versus Goliath upsets, at which Afghanistan sparkled with wins over New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh before a semi-final against South Africa proved a bridge too far.

The T20 game, better designed to give cricket a truly global reach, was a good advertisement for its attractions, even if glitches were galore in its organisation by a pedestrian ICC. The cricket behemoth India may have the most to celebrate but there was plenty for the others too, which means the game of cricket won as much as India’s always-optimistic fans.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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