Sport essentially is fun, celebration and a game — nothing more, nothing less. But cricket is something special and close to the heart of every Indian. Obsessed as they are, Indians love winners. Ever since India tasted defeat at the hands of New Zealand in Thursday’s semi-finals of the World Cup in Old Trafford, it has not gone down well with the cricket crazy media and public in the country. All hell broke loose. There has been criticism against Virat Kohli’s men for this unexpected loss. But what we fail to realise is that this is, after all, a game of cricket. You win some, you lose some. When India bowed out of the World Cup, it broke a million hearts. This is not felt in other games. In 2007 when Rahul Dravid’s men could not qualify the knock-out stage in West Indies, homes of the players were attacked. That was one of the worst shows by India in a World Cup. Whenever India play a World Cup, the most important thing is to beat Pakistan. Kohli’s men fulfilled this wish of Indians with a clinical win.
It was 45 minutes of bad cricket that cost India in the World Cup. Skipper Kohli was heartbroken and so were millions of Indian fans on that ‘Black’ Thursday morning. All the hard work that went into India’s planning and the march into the semi-finals after topping the table came to a screeching halt. The stage was set for India’s dream of winning the World Cup for the third time and repeating Kapil’s Devils’ feat of 1983. The script went horribly wrong this time. There could be some retrospection and postmortem. That India failed to cross the semi-final barrier is no doubt a setback. True, it would have been a memorable Sunday if Kohli’s men were at the Lord’s. Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and a great leveller. There can be turnarounds and setbacks. It is history now. Let us enjoy the wonderful streak by Kohli’s men till the semi-finals. For instance, Rohit Sharma had a golden run with the willow. The elegant opener was at his fluent best. The five centuries that he scripted was a treat to watch, or the magnificent Jasprit Bumrah who gave an amazing display of fast bowling. Amidst the gloomy Thursday afternoon, there was a spectacular run by Dutee Chand at the World University Games where she sprinted to gold in women’s 100 metres. She created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold at World University Games. This is certainly a reason to rejoice.