When Did We Lose The Game?

When did we lose the game to Pakistan?

No not when Ravindra Jadeja ran Hardik Pandya out. Not when Kohli got a leading edge to gully. Not when Dhoni tamely hoiked the ball down square leg’s throat. Not when Bumrah, who has made it a habit to dismiss people off no-balls, got Fakhar Zaman out for three.

We lost to Pakistan when we decided to mimic our neighbors in smashing TV sets.  We lost to Pakistan when we forwarded the message on Whatsapp that the match was fixed, or some other outrageous conspiracy yarn, or blamed IPL for making the players not care, or when we, not this has happened yet but has occurred before, decided to burn effigies of players or garland them with shoes or, worst of all, tried to vandalize their property.

We lose when we let the world know that we care enough to bother to break even an old TV set. Care enough to turn on the TV set in order to see someone else breaking a TV set. Care enough to elevate a single defeat to the level of a national loss of face.

Confident nations don’t do this. Because they know, or should, that their pride as a people is not defined or determined by the outcome of a game.

Of course, just like in Pakistan, they are not actually working TV sets, but dusty old cathode-ray tube dinosaurs that lost their last flicker some time in the last decade, whose last few moments on this earth before entering analog oblivion was exhausted in giving its owners a few seconds of time on a TV channel. But be as it may, the headlines of “Nation angry at humiliating defeat” to recorded clips of people hurling TV sets is the real humiliation, that channels know that people will watch this and boost their TRPs.

That does not mean that we fans cannot have a civil cricketing discussion on why India lost. Sure we can. As long as the discussion does not have these people only play for money” or “This is the result of a secret pact between Modi and Sharif” or “My friend’s brother-in-law has a friend who knows this bookie who told him yesterday, and I have proof, that…”

India lost, in my opinion, because they went face to face against a team that played a very high-risk high-reward game and, on this day, the high risk paid off. On other days, it wouldn’t have. The first time India and Pakistan played in the tournament, Pakistan went for a conservative, avoid-mistakes gameplan. Against a superior team, which let me dispassionately say India still is, this is usually not the best of tactics for the underdogs. The better team will usually make less mistakes than you. That is exactly what happened in the first game.

After that thumping defeat, Pakistan reversed the tactic. Let’s look at the final. Fakhar Zaman took insane risks while batting. Mohammed Amir bowled an attacking full length with an attacking field at the risk of the Indian openers getting off to a flier on a flat-bed pitch. The spinner came back for another over even after being pasted by Hardik Pandya.

In a post match press conference, here is what Kohli said.

When a guy like Azhar Ali, who is a conventional batsman, plays his shots, you can still have a plan,” said Kohli to reporters after the match. “But for a guy like Zaman, it becomes really difficult to stop players like him, because I think 80 per cent of his shots were high-risk and they were all coming off.

“So you can only do so much, as I said, as a bowler and as a captain when that is happening. Sometimes, you have to sit and say, the guy is good enough on the day to tackle anything,” Kohli continued.

“As I said, you can do little to control when people are going well like that, and we certainly tried to make them hit in areas that we felt it would be uncomfortable, but we just didn’t have anything going our way in that partnership (Zaman-Azhar). We tried our best to hit good areas but they just batted really well today,” he further said.

Again, to remember, it did not “all” come off. Zaman was out off a no-ball. He did not look back. Kolhi got a reprieve. He got out the next ball.

India  played its conventional, “avoid mistakes” game, as it has done throughout the tournament, buying bonds and investing in index funds and pouring over annual earnings statements, but if the opponent is putting it all on the blackjack table and winning pretty much every hand, there is no way you can match his RoI.

Pakistan today played the game they are born to play, high-risk and instinctive and aggressive, backing the raw talent of their players, and by the time India adapted to the craziness of the day with an all-out “every ball goes out of the ground” assault from Hardik Pandya, it was already too late.

In conclusion, there should no be denying that as a cricketing nation, in the limited overs games, we have gotten better. Our current crop of Indian players are fitter, win games more consistently than the generations we grew up idolizing, and while they are not and may never be Australia under Waugh and Ponting, and Windies under Clive Llyod and Richards, this have established themselves, over the past few years and over all kinds of surfaces, as one of the world’s top-ranked cricketing nations.

Now waiting for some of the fans to catch up to that standard.




21 thoughts on “When Did We Lose The Game?

  1. Dr B.S. N Pathak June 19, 2017 — 2:20 am

    Brilliant analysis

  2. its not just luck or random chance; to a large extent, its bowlers like Ashwin and the wides and no balls that took away the pressure and allowed Pakis to have a free run that cost us the game. Adding to that , deliberate padding by Yuvi and lack of technique in Kohli and Dhawan’s batting that exposed them as gully cricket champions rather than a team capable of putting up with quality international cricket. Arnab – you should know better.

  3. If Indian team members have any shame left, they should not return to India and commit suicide there in England. I don’t know how Virat Kohli got selected into the team even as a batsman. His batting technique is very poor, his temperament is poor, and his judgement skills are rank bad (obvious by his girlfriend selection).

    1. They got into the final and lost one game. And you want them to commit suicide?

  4. your gyan should trickle down to your followers. India is the best ODI team now. If they sort out the fitness issues of kedar and ashwin, I think this ODI team of india will be the benchmark for modern ODI cricket. Unlike the other indians of their generation this bunch of guys are talented and extremely hardworking. The final yesterday really shows the difference between india and other sides. You have to play completely out of your skin to even have a chance against this Indian side.

  5. Virat u r the best &don’t loss the hope &but in icc final ur feilding &bating is very bad in final &hardik pandya is the best player in your team love u

    1. Did you erroneously post this comment here instead of the rediff discussion boards?

      1. Somebody trying to troll our Arnabda.

  6. Virat kohli aap icc ka final match haar gye h jiske wajah se saare indians ko aap se ye umid nhi thi ek last umid aap se hi thi 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  7. Well put. We really do need to grow up as a nation.

    The cricket/match analysis is spot on as well. India is definitely a very good cricket team currently, especially in one day/T20 cricket in all conditions. In tests, we are still good in the sub-continent (and the sad West Indies) and very average elsewhere. I do feel though that as part of our growing up, we need to be more dispassionate when rating India’s achievements both positive and negative. That will only help us get better in cricket, and even more importantly, as a people.

    Typo correction – ” Clive Lloyd” not ” Clive Llyod”.

  8. Debasish Choudhury June 19, 2017 — 6:21 am

    We actually lost the game in the first 20 overs, when we failed to get a wicket and gave away runs at a shade below 6. Very few teams, and none with bowling like India’s, can bounce back from 114/0 after 20.
    You never know the implications one game can have. One match in Sharjah in 1986 changed the Indo-Pak cricket equation for ten years. It took another match in Bangalore after ten years to reverse that equation. It took another match at Centurion after another seven years to emphasise the superiority. This Pakistan team is young and energetic… you can’t predict how they will turn out to be.

  9. monkey see monkey do …..

  10. I think in the midst of all this, we should not forget the red hot spell that Mohammed Amir bowled yesterday. There was skill and intelligence on display in his bowling, of course, but this may not have been enough to displace Kohli. What Amir had in addition yesterday was the X factor, which India sorely lacked in their bowling (Ashwin and Jadeja looked completely uninspired). Amir was absolutely lethal in that opening spell – as fast and furious as one would expect from the very best in the business, but also completely unpredictable. One ball darted away from Rohit Sharma, the next swung late into the pads. Thus, when Kohli came in, he simply was in two minds, not knowing whether the ball was coming in or moving away from him, at speeds of 145+ kmph. That, and the tricky angle that Amir created had Kohli completely in a bind. I don’t think there is any batsman who can consistently face a top class bowler in full flight, ball after ball, in a hot spell, because all it takes is one error, for the batsman to be eliminated from the contest.

    Sometimes the stars are simply all aligned against you, so to say. It was just Pakistan’s day yesterday.

  11. True.

    BCCI team is still a better team by a long margin. Yesterday just wasn’t its day. They may lose a game here or there, but over a period of time or a series, they’ll always prove to be better.

    It’s just a game, people taking it to heart are overreacting. There will always be wins and losses in life, be it cricket or elections. We should still be proud of sports persons who have achieved so much and given us so much joy with their game.

  12. At least you should have refrained from using the picture; where a person holds the old cathode tube in his arms with definite purpose.

    We lost after a long time, and let’s move forward, making it sure, next time, we do well.

    This is cricket and don’t read too much in the actions of few idiots.

  13. Very well written. Pakistan got exceptionally lucky in that most of their risks came off and the like of zaman were able to play slogs all the way to their 100. When luck favours someone to this extent, there is not much you can do. Just a case of every dog having its day.
    Having said that, i believe the Indian team’s weaknesses were papered over by various factors and they were all exposed very badly yesterday. Just hope selectors realise this and drop players past their prime (like dhoni), players who have made comebacks but arent as good as earlier (Yuvraj) and players who shouldnt have been in the team in the first place (shaker dhawan).

  14. NO not at all, PAK team played with less risks on finals than their usual take. And that less risk attitude gave them those first 20 overs. While indian batsmen played very risky, without any application. PAK bowling was one of the best ever seen recently, and kohli & team did not have clue, and there was absolutely nothing RISKY in those balls, except for indian team.

  15. @Kishore- Take a chill pill mate. And go back to commentating on the genre of cricket that you are good at (i.e. book cricket).

  16. Very nicely said. I was clenching my jaw hearing my BFF going “India hamesha aise hi khelti hai” – this team is excellent and requires their opposition to play high-risk, high-reward game to win. When the opposition pulls it off, you say “Well done, but try it again.” No shame in that – I’m so glad we have finally reached a stage where this sort of professionalism can be seen from the Indian team.

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