Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chalk and Cheese - Indian Intent 1975 vs 2011

While the World Cup hits a another relatively 'slow patch', lets take a trip down memory lane.

1975. The year of the inaugural cricket world cup, a lot of pressure was on the tournament as this was the opportunity to truly realize the potential of the game.

2011. Present year world cup, facing a time where the ODI game faces a crisis (or does it?). Only time will tell if the game will be resurrected.

The similarity between the two world cups is that the opening match featured India on both occasions. Both matches were highlighted by the performance of their opening batsmen, but for entirely different reasons.

The Chalk
Virender Sehwag. The opening match was against the fancied underdog Bangladesh, expected to present a decent challenge. As gung-ho as ever, he made some smug claims before this world cup. The result, in an electric atmosphere rained with staunch Bangladeshi support, was an aggressive and calculated destruction of the opposition bowling attack. The intent was absolutely clear, to bludgeon runs, and bludgeon with style.

When the dust settled, the gauntlet had been thrown, and the world took notice. Sehwag had 175 and India had 370. They meant business in a big way, and the world cup was lit up at the hands of one mans exuberance.

The Cheese
Sunil Gavaskar. The inaugural match was against a strong English side, who were up for the occasion with an attacking 334 set as the target (from 60 overs). What followed was the most bizarre ODI innings of all time. Gavaskar gave up the chase before a ball was bowled, but rather than sacrifice himself in pursuit of quick runs, he chose to bat through the innings, turtle style. In an absolute farcical effort, he held the bat, managing 36 from 174 deliveries. Mark Richardson in Sydney was Gayle-esque in comparison.

Gavaskar had hell to pay for, and to this day has not come up with a logical reason. Angry fans ensured their disapproval was heard, and some even invaded the pitch to directly question what the heck was going on.  

India went nowhere in that tournament, and the world cup copped an harsh blow at the hands of one mans madness.

The lesson is simple, half of cricket is mental. Positive intent and a strong mindset can add up to so much more.

Strength in simplicity. © Associated Press

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