Hats off to our ‘Belligerent Boys’ on their magnificent victory in semi-final
Feature Articles, Sports

Hats off to our ‘Belligerent Boys’ on their magnificent victory in semi-final

November 17, 2023

India will take on Australia in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Sunday (Nov. 19) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. It is going to be a special occasion as Team India will chase their third title in what has been dubbed as the ‘3 ka dream’ while the five-time champions, Aussies will eye a record sixth title.

This will be the second time India and Australia will be meeting in the World Cup final. Both teams are in form at the moment, with India on a 10-match winning streak, which started with the win over the Aussies in Chennai.

In the 2003 ICC World Cup final held on March 23 at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, Australia emerged victorious over India. The Australian team, led by Ricky Ponting, had put up a formidable score of 359 runs for the loss of just two wickets in their allotted 50 overs. Despite having the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, India could not chase down the mammoth target and were bowled out for 234 runs in 39.2 overs. —Ed

By V.N. Prasad

At the outset, India that is Bharat and the world salutes Virat Kohli on his magnificent ODI century, his 50th in ODIs, surpassing the record of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.

Well, comparisons would be unfair for, ODIs had not gained momentum during Sachin’s time (his 1st ODI ton came only in his 79th game), whereas Virat entered the scene when ODIs were not only popular but also highly competitive and commercial.

The jam-packed Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Nov. 15  was resplendent with blue shirts; agog with high expectations at the semis. Hard to erase unpleasant memories of the past World Cups. Sadly, archives and statistics speak the truth.

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In the 2015 World Cup, Bharat was on top of the table. The OZs (Australia) knocked us out in the semis by 95 runs. In the 2019 World Cup, again we topped the table but the Black Caps (New Zealand) shunted us out in the semi-finals by 18 runs. We fared pathetically losing 4 wickets for 24 runs; ultimately losing the match. We were labelled as ‘chokers’. And thus, prayers at Wankhede were aloud for better results at this semis.

All were and are aware of the fact that this ELEVEN has evolved, as the statistics of this tourney suggest. Brave start by the hitman, Rohit (Sharma); Imperious follow-up by extremely confident Virat (Kohli); ‘Devil may care’ knocks by Shreyas (Iyer); Useful finishing touches by KLR (K.L. Rahul) and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) were  all inspirational.

Performance by our “Hi Five” bowlers has been remarkable. It may be harsh to assume that injury to Hardik (Pandya) and hence the entry of Shami was providential. But, without an iota of doubt, Mohammed Shami’s was ‘sheer match-winning’ performances; especially in the semis. Statistics speak for themselves, but recalling the line, length, up-seam position and mild swing he purchased from the air and wicket were absolutely intriguing and match-winning  performances.

Surprisingly, all the other bowlers lacked the much-needed sting. So, evidently Shami’s bag of 7 wickets meant a ton in our victory.

Frankly, 70 runs margin of victory in a chase up to 397, sans Shami, could have gone to the wire.

Well, with all positivities at our command, we keep our fingers crossed and keep tightening them as our boys proceed to Narendra Modi Stadium at Ahmedabad and win the coveted trophy  emphatically on the 19th.

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