Twenty Twenty Vision Part Deux

71 Comments

This is what I had said before about the recent Twenty20 world cup drawing parallels with the current Indian team and the one that won the World Cup in 1983.

And as to the lukewarm response to Twenty20 in India, all that is needed to change it are wins by the Men in Blue—–remember that one day cricket took off in India only after 1983 and truly became a part of pop culture with the 85 Benson and Hedges Cup win. If Dhoni can do a Tunbridge Wells, if Yuvraj steps into Mohinder Amarnath’s shoes, if Sreesanth can shake his ass like the generously endowed Roger Binny, if Rohit Sharma becomes a Yashpal Sharma, if Hayden leaves an outswinger that then swings in and takes off stump, if Gilchrist top-edges a pull to midwicket, if Pathan can regain his mo-jo and Sehwag can blast the ball past his beer gut then who knows—-those who have come to scoff may very well remain to pray.

Not that I had any expectations of the Indian team at the time I wrote this but yes Dhoni has emerged as a leader that rides at the front of the lines, Yuvraj has stepped into Mohinder Amarnath’s shoes as a player around whom the whole team rallies around, Sreesanth has channelized his pyscho-ness to produce a killing performance (his bowling against Australia was nothing short of sensational), Rohit Sharma has indeed become another Yashpal Sharma , Pathan has adjusted well to his new role as a first-change bowler, Sehwag has given solid consistent starts and Hayden and Gilchrist and the whole Australian team have been brought down from their pedestal in true “Chak de India” style.

And one of the reasons for these small miracles has been, no doubt, what I had referred to as the only positive for Dhoni’s men—-they had gone to South Africa unheralded, with no expectations and no accompanying hoopla. This was in sharp contrast to the team that went to West Indies earlier this year amidst the “Cup jeetke lao” and the “Blue Billion” corporate-fuelled hype and got hopelessly eliminated in the first round. While Dravid’s men played like zombies with the weight of expectations of the entire country weighing on their shoulders, looking increasingly forlorn, disconsolate and on the edge after each setback , the new Team India, no doubt because nothing was expected from them, has been free-spirited, uncluttered and fearless even when faced with enemy ships that have outsized and outgunned them.

Regardless of whether we win the tournament or not (the final is yet to be played at the time of writing), the significance of the Twenty20 World Cup is that it has given us a crystal-ball view into the future—at an Indian team with no Sachin, Sourav and Dravid. The fact that this future looks promising and exciting is perhaps the greatest news an Indian cricket fan could have, especially in an year where Indian cricket has plumbed the depths of despair.

Also the Twenty20 World Cup has shown to skeptics like me, that “good cricket” is possible even within the strait-jacket of a three hour game, even without the slow-release simmering tension of the one-day game. In two weeks of frenzied cricketing madness, we have seen that Twenty20 is not just about bats flying, organizers minting money and emaciated cheerleaders executing tired moves. On the contrary, the format does allow for memorable bowling performances (Daniel Vettori’s match-swinging spell of controlled left arm spin bowling in the match against India being particularly memorable),and packs in enough moments of high drama, emotion,courage and aggression so as to make it difficult to brush away Twenty20 cricket with a dismissive “c’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre” (It’s magnificent but it’s not war).

Much of sport lies in conquering mental barriers and this World Cup has shown how over the last ten overs, teams can consistently score at 9/10 runs per over if they have wickets in hand. Just as ODIs have increased scoring rates and led to more results in Tests, Twenty20 may very well revolutionize one day cricket by increasing the rate of run-scoring during slog overs and by extension the number of runs scored during a game.

However the most important consequence of the Twenty20 World Cup and more specifically India and Pakistan’s performance is that it has come as a rush of pure green into the financial veins of the ICC who, with its recently announced professional league comprising twenty20 games, is perfectly poised to tap into the groundswell of interest for the game in the subcontinent (the market that really matters) that will now be as inevitable as Agarkar slipping the ball down the legside when the fine leg is inside the circle.

However let us set aside all the analysis, all the “this is not true cricket”s, and all the profit-loss balance sheets for now and revel, like true fan-boys (and girls), in the glories of the last few days of cricket—-Yuvraj Singh with supreme arrogance flicking an express delivery from Lee for a 119 meter six, Rohit Sharma running out Kemp with an amazing diving throw, Kartik’s airborne catch to get rid of Smith, Stuart Broad’s red embarrassed “teenager with his first dirty magazine” expression as Yuvraj gets stuck into him, Sreesanth slapping the pitch with his hands like Hannibal Lecter in front of a fresh corpse as Hayden’s stumps lie in disarray and Dhoni’s simple nod of affirmation to Harbhajan after Bhajji rattles Symond’s Michael Clarke’s timber.

It has really been the most fun one can have with their clothes on.

[Picture courtesy Cricinfo]

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71 thoughts on “Twenty Twenty Vision Part Deux

  1. “Harbhajan after Bhaji rattles Symond’s timber.”-I think you mean Mihael Clarke, the pup and not Symonds.

    Sorry for nitpicking but I am also emotionally invested now.

  2. I really really really hope the New Team India can shake off the tag of being ‘chokers in the final’.

    Also it does feel a little sad that this new look Team India will soon be dismantled and taken apart to make room for the BIG-3.

  3. dhoni’s simple nod of affirmation to bhajji – the most beautiful image from this world cup. warms the heart to see such confidence and belief on the face of an indian captain.

    thanks dhoni for bringing joy back into indian cricket.

  4. I had hoped for salvation for the down-and-out Pathan, Bhajji et all and they got it!

    Frankly, just to watch a game against Australia where India does not look beaten against Australia is enough for me. Where the captains don’t look perplexed and worried. Both Ganguly and Dravid were guilty of that. After the fight we put up – I would have been happy even if we had lost. Some spirit, after all.

  5. I agree with your analysis, our team has played with abandon, without pressure, and that’s a big reason why we’ve played so well.
    Yuvraj has been batting like a demon, his 6 ball 36 was the difference between England and India. With Australia, he turned the tide of the game as soon as he came in, his 70 was crucial.

    Pathan, RP Singh, Harbhajan have been very tight, giving nothing away. Harbhajan especially. He hasn’t taken wickets, but he has killed opponents by giving nothing, not a single loose ball when 10 runs are needed per over.
    Sreesanth’s performance in the last match was part insane part magic. This wicket had nothing for the bowlers, but he turned up the heat with those long glares against batsmen a foot taller than him. As long as he doesn’t spray the ball all over, I’m glad. Hope his gods help him maintain his line and length.
    Rohit Sharma is a new treasure, great to see him deliver in a pressure match where we were without Yuvraj. His run out of Kemp was unbeleivable.

    We deserve to win this cup. There’s so much positive energy in this team, what do we need the Big 3 for?

    One more match to go, to end this fairy tale. Hope it’s in our favour.

  6. “Also it does feel a little sad that this new look Team India will soon be dismantled and taken apart to make room for the BIG-3.”

    Not just BIG-3. You can add Agarkar as well. He has a guaranteed place in the team, come what may.

  7. “Also it does feel a little sad that this new look Team India will soon be dismantled and taken apart to make room for the BIG-3.”

    Emotion makes us forget reality. No doubt, this team is wonderful! We are getting taste of success after soooo long in international arena…

    But in our hurry, let us not forget that “BIG-3” has brought us many such joyous moments over the last decade in tougher formats of the game! If we can not give due to our heroes, then please remember, when these guys also will have their share of defeats in near future(journey is full of wins and losses),it will be us who will be out with daggers, perfectly fogetting their contributions of near past.

    In near past, we have taken for a ride by a quack coach, perfectly amazed by his initial success, conveniently ignoring our proven leader ! And we know the results.

    And even in the present tournament, we have seen it is the experienced guys ( apart from R. P. Singh in a match), who are the ones who are anchoring and firing. Good part is that, everyone else is also chipping in.

    And let us not forget the Natwest trophy of immediate past, where in the three matches we won, each of those Big-3 was MoM.

  8. I am thoroughly enjoying every bit of the world cup, but I found it odd that top three Pakistani bowlers were unable to hit the stumps during the bowlouts. The world-cup seems too good to be true, seems fixed to me…but who cares, India jeet rahi hai, might as well celebrate…if nothing else it is some wonderful entertainment…Yuvraj’s sixes 😀

  9. Two teams with the youngest average age of players has reached the finals.
    The strongest teams including Aus, SA and SL had a mix of not so young and middle aged players and may be in 20/20 format you require fearless, young blood.

    Lesson for the other sides.

    Nothing can be sweeter than beating Pakistan in finals. Benson Hedges 1985 was the last time we achieved this. Hope we do not have to wait next 22 years to get this chance.

  10. Good post.
    It was 8 yrs since I watched cricket I even began to forget the rules but yesterday’s match was enthralling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This gives a new lease of life to Indian Cricket team and fans.

  11. no kidding!! spot on with the 1983 comparison… and not to mention the dream final of all… Indo-Pak in a WC final!!…il est splendide, et c’est certainement la guerre!!

  12. Why do I have a feeling of deja vu & 100% pessimism? It is great to have a relaxed, laid back captain, we can only pray for him in the coming series against Australia… Dhoni has to contend with Agarkar on the field and off it, we have great politics, in form of Pawar [why is he chairman of BCCI? Has he played any cricket before?], Secretaries who provide useless comments & feedbacks, Zonal satraps who lobby for their favorite player to be represented sans concern about team performance. I can see advertisements vanquishing oz from pepsi, coke, kurkure et al where as our Indian team will be down in the dumps & getting thrashed by them in the next series…. God bless India & save Dhoni from going mad..!!

  13. I think it is a little early before they are hailed as the new era and Dhoni to be christened as new skipper. They indeed have done a great job but twists and turns in the popular emotion is not a new thing.

    The thing is India has a disproportionate expectations with its players. Added to the fact that people don’t discuss cricket just runs and simplistic statistics. There is no debate on the quality of play. I found your post quite detailed for that matter. And then there are news channels playing the same clips to umpteenth time with over the hill cricketers gossiping about how changing you underwear after fielding restrictions are relaxed would be an easy way to de-stress and concentrate on ball 😉 (I know it sounds weird but so do they and their psychological vivisection of player psychology and illogical reasoning mixed with blabber)

  14. Dhoni’s simple nod of affirmation to Bhajji after he castled Clarke. The whole team was in a frenzy but Dhoni, cool as ever.This was the moment of the world cup for me. Just symbolised the new team-INDIA

  15. Even I had given little chance to the Men in Blues citing the fact that they played only on T20 match till then. Am I glad that I have been proved wrong or what! Today’s result matters, but the important lesson to be learned is that young players need to be persisted with in the 50-over format as well. It’d be sad to see them sitting on the bench too often from now on.

    Sachin, Sourav and Dravid can drop out more often now. 😉

  16. The big three are passe-too premature. It is one thing to fire a few sixes in 20-20 and another to bat out the last day in a test match. The latter is a real man’s game :D. The Aussies are coming let us see how team India weatehrs the storm.

  17. Absofuckinlutely GB. What I like about this team is their attitude! The match against Australlia was a gem. Like you mentioned, never did the Indian team look clueless. And everyone contributed. Yuvi, Viru, MS and gang with the bat and Bajji, RPS, Pathan and Sree with the ball. I particularly loved the way Sree bowled! 2-12!! And with attitude. I hope he ‘directs’ his attitude to the stumps in the finals. There is finally a future for Indian cricket.

    The 20/20 format too, was a fresh change. I am not so much a fan of the test and 1-day formats. I have a day job and 20/20 suits me just fine. Come back from work, sit down with a couple of beers, and enjoy it like a movie… I think for people like me, who have jobs and chores around the house, this will be a definitive return to cricket. And most of all, the missus is happy too. And I guess in the end it comes to that 😦

  18. I have had my fair share of experience with cricket, on the field off the field. Here are my observations, maybe i sound a pessimist but to me its reality check.

    1. Pathan needs to bowl upfront. he is best when he tries to take wickets, not when he tried to contain. he is slow and is a swing bowler, he will contain well in the middle overs cause he has criceting brains, but he is best at the top. Open the bowling, get the crucial early wickets.
    2. Agarkar needs to sit out permanently. we have replacements for him.
    3. Good strategy to hold wickets till the 7th – 8th over. But, didnt the openers get too bogged down? what would have happened if yuvraj didnt fire? would we have reached a score which would challenege the mighty aussies. yes, hold the wickets, but dont get bogged down, every bad delivery deserves to be treated. come on this is the highest level, its an international match and yuvraj, dhoni might not click every day.
    4. Need to boost joginder’s confidence or replace him. though he bowled and exceptional last over against australia, he needs to understand he is the 5th bowler and will be trageted. All his overs are slog overs for the opposition and he needs to get it right with all his deliveries.
    5. yuvraj, sehwag need to be bowled more and given the experience, you will need them when one of the bowler is having an off day.
    6. Dhoni is good when we are winning, but his character and ability to withstand pressure will be tested in tougher games.
    7. keep the big-3, play only 2 of them based on their form. make sure they know, they arent going to be in for long and their job is not only to play well but also to help the youngsters to hone their skills and ofcourse dhoni’s skills as a captain. after all without doubt, ganguly has been the captain who groomed many of these youngsters who are firing today and has by far been the most aggresive indian captian.

    Having said it all, 100 marks to the writer for a brilliant article and NO DOUBTS, ITS GOING TO BE INDIA WINNING THE FINAL. PREPARE FOR THE CELEBRATIONS, COUTRYMEN.

  19. It has really been the most fun one can have with their clothes on.

    I object. Are you a teetotaler? Dont you know how to do it with your clothes on? 😉 If you are into S&M with emphasis on M, watch Sagarika Ghose in face the nation or some such loftily named program. Unless you have the weird habit of watching TV in nude.

  20. have been awaiting the ‘part deux’..thankyou!
    You had put in a good amount of optimism in your last post on this, and i agreed with what ud said.
    Though the facts were against the team, chances are always there..n i secretly wished / prayed there were!

    This young team has truly deserved those chances.

    Eagerly awaiting todays match…
    The team has put a put a smile on our face…may that prevail..

  21. Absolutely! I think the 20/20 is a real fun version and the team is doing great. This is the first time I have “actually” enjoyed watching cricket along with the guys! But I wish we didnt have this India-Pak final- too much tension to bear- gonna need an extra dose of my inhaler i guess! Meanwhile, trying to finish the report soon so can scoot off from work to watch the match with hubby, who btw suddenly felt the urge to “work from home” today 😉

  22. Phew. Short respite from nail-bitingly following match results before Pak embarks on batting.

    Slow day at office … 3 staff called in sick today !!! Yeah, right !

    The only thing about 20/20 is, I think they should reduce the number of wickets available to 7 all out. Otherwise it’s too one-sided; a sloggers paradise, while a thankless game for bowlers.

  23. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has announced a bonus of US$ 2 million for the team and a bonus of Rs 1 crore to Yuvraj Singh for his achievement of hitting six sixes in one over.

    I’m telling my son to start practicing cricket from now. Ouch! I’m sorry, I’m still a single and childless.

  24. Attention Rishi Khujur, Hujur, Ravi, HHBB:

    “Shoaib Malik “First of all I’d like to thank people back home and the Muslims around the world. We gave our 100%,” he says. “India have a strong batting line-up. We did well to restrict them to less than 160 but our batting didn’t come through. The Indians bowled really well and we played some bad shots. That’s why we ended up on the losing side in this game.”

    Comments?

  25. @ yourfan2

    No comments 🙂 Let’s bask in the luxury of a hard-fought win.

    Kudos for Pakistan for putting up a spectacular display & fight-back. That’s what I like about Pak & Muslims, they “never say never”. Indomitable will power.

    Good for them.

  26. Just had a brain-wave. Can we now decide bilateral issues by the outcome of cricket matches?

    Rather than bloody battles & missiles?

  27. too much deja vu…
    83 Lords, 85 Benson Hedges, 1996 B’lore quarter finals…
    it’s bhandga and band and sweets all over again… on the bylanes of my small town in central india…..

    this is right up there…
    luck or whatever… i don’t care… india beating pak… in finals…
    cannot get bigger than this…

    hope misabh is spared… he got them close twice and choked on last 2 balls…

  28. no one has given dis man his due..so here i m thankin dis guy n congratulatin him for his efforts..

    Indian bowling has been a revelation in T20..n its largely an effort of Venkatesh Prasad, Indian current bowling coach, n perhaps one of d most underrated Indian cricketers

    U have definitely brought a change to indian bowling..!!

  29. That was redumption from the letdown in WestIndies !!

    I wish all the best to the Zimbabwe Team and hope they can defeat Australia in the 2011 WC as well !! (Tongue firmly in cheek)

  30. Weeeeee are the champions my friendddddddddddddddd…..

    Too good ..still sinking in. Even my American born wife has started watching Twenty-20 cricket …. I couldn’t believe how nervous she was watchin us play the Aussies ….fails to undertand why I prefer the 5 day format !!!!!!

    Arnabda, I agree that this team went there with zero expectations from fans , however would you not agree that the level of expectation went up after the victory over the South Africans if not after Yuvraj’s almost criminal mauling of Chris Broad’s darling son !!!!! (thankfully he was not the match referee …that would have been a one match ban for Yuvi)

    I personally bought the willow package only after I heard of Yuvi’s 6-6s. I think what really made this team play so well was –

    1. Only twenty overs …so no need for perfect footwork and all that as even a short cameo is a great innings.

    2. The fielding was superb …(Rohit/Robin/Dinesh)

    3. For once the umpires were not raising the fingers whenever a ball hit the pads of an Indian batsman or went close to his outside edge.

    Anyway party time guys drink up ….cheers …

  31. @Reshma
    Your statement about the fix defies logic. Both India and Pak had already advanced on points on a tied match. Secondly there were no points being carried over to the next round.

  32. Twenty20 is the way to go. This format requires Hanuman-like skills. Because in the longer version of the game if you don’t want to commit to a shot because you read it wrong, you can always use your “off stump” knowledge to leave it. In this version of the game since you are battling against the over limit, you have to think very quickly. You will get lucky because you are going to be trying shots even Ramakant Achrekar never knew existed, simply because you were taught to take them out of your playbook. As a bowler you have to be able to produce a ball totally out of character, spinning with the shine on, and swinging it like crazy all within 20 overs? Here you must not only get lucky, you must also have razorsharp technique, because there are few 2nd chances. The Aussies were plainly outbatted, outbowled, outfielded, and outclassed; and didn’t know what hit them. Their much vaunted fitness was nothing against a bunch of 20 somethings who have played galli cricket in the Indian summer, barefoot. I have been seeing the pix, the Indian bunch was a hungry pack, and clealy out-attituded everyone.

  33. Psycho Sreesanth FTW!! You really hit the nail on the head in that description. But is aggression so bad? If Ganguly could fuck Steve Waugh over by keeping him waiting at the toss, why make Sreesanth the bad guy? You could write a whole blog post o0n how aggression is flowing through Indian cricket right now.

  34. HHBB:
    “Just had a brain-wave. Can we now decide bilateral issues by the outcome of cricket matches?

    Rather than bloody battles & missiles?”

    WTF!!!! The win is making you soft! That’s no way to start the Hindu revival!

    @Jerry:
    There is a difference. Sreesanth is a loose cannon. not calculatedly aggressive like Ganguly. Sreesanth’s displays border on the ludicrous most times, and he is considered more of a joke than a serious players nowadays. He has to shape up or he will be shipped out sooner or later.

  35. Shan : The win is making you soft!

    That’s all right. 2 days back in the crypt, & my cantankerous old self will resurrect itself !! 🙂

  36. We The Indians, are proud to have such great cricketers.
    SHINE LIKE STARS
    GLOW LIKE MOON
    COME BACK WITH VICTORY
    YOU ALL ARE THE BEST FPREVER AND EVER!
    “ALL THE BEST TO THEINDIAN TEAM
    RIMPLE RAI
    8 STANDARD

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