There are 2 things to look forward to on Saturday……..Indian victory and if Poonam Pandey will live up to her promise to bare it all. India is waiting with bated breath for both these things to happen.
India came to standstill on Wednesday when India played Pakistan and is once again expected to come back to a halt on Saturday. Even before the World Cup started Indian team said that they want to take one game at a time and this is what they are doing. They are taking one game at a time and are doing that in style. India has infact played two finals even before the final match. India has knocked out three times defending Champion Australia in Quarters and then defeated red hot Pakistan in a high tension Semi final. You may feel that India has never dominated the opposition the way Sri Lanka or even Pakistan did in the tournament and have just scraped through in most of the games. In the initial stages the bowling was looking weak what with giving too many to Bangladesh and then almost losing to England while defending 338. Then all of a sudden the focus shifted to batting where they had couple of collapses in the latter stages of the innings after having a solid foundation. Fielding was always a concern and duly admitted by the team management since start of the championship. They even appeared to struggle against teams like Netherland & Ireland. But even after all this the fact of the matter is India is in the FINAL of the World Cup.
Indian team played out of their skin against Australia, Australia is known to bring in that extra bit whenever they are pushed to the wall but India successfully managed to storm that push of the all conquering Australian team. Australia was understandably out of focus and we love to talk about our team and make superstars of our own team and then also bring them down with equal verve. With this defeat the invincibility aura of Australia came to an end with it comes an end to an era of Australian dominance of World cricket. The Indian bowlers showed way in that match by restricting Australia to 260 on a pitch which looked like a batting beauty. Then the batsmen showed character in chasing the score with quite a few balls to spare. The match against Pakistan was not expected to be very high on quality but what it lacked in quality was more than made up in hype and intensity. Corporates put up large screens within offices, companies adjusted their working hours, employees took sick leaves out of nowhere, People were ready to sell their kidneys to get the tickets, and those who had to work did so with utmost disappointment on missing the live action. Tickets of Mohali match will be framed and put up in drawing rooms for most of the 28,000 people who were lucky to witness this epic encounter.
On one side of the draw India has to earn their place in the final and on the other side of the draw is Sri Lanka who seems to have had fairly easy knock out matches. They first whipped England by 10 wickets that looked completely drained after entertaining in each of their 6 group matches. In fact England team was jokingly called the Official Entertainer of this World Cup. In semi final they faced New Zealand who were themselves surprised to have come so far in the tournament. Though to be fair to New Zealanders they fought well and created some pressure on an untested Sri Lankan middle order.
Sri Lanka might have had relatively easy matches but some might call it less then ideal preparation for a World cup final. On the other hand it also means that Sri Lankan team will be mentally fresh coming into the final. Moreover, India has had two tough matches and may be emotionally fatigued. They also have a day less to rest and recover from their win against Pakistan, if not a great win in terms of quality of cricket put up for display.
There is not doubt that this is going to be the greatest game of all players involved. There are many players who don’t even get to play a World Cup final in their entire lifetime. Brian Lara is one such player who did not play in any World Cup Final. This proves the fact that a great player needs support from the team to help them achieve greater results. This is the hallmark of this Indian team, Team spirit and respect for its leader. They have played like a team and have supported each other throughout this tournament. There have no news of camps in this tournament. A cool captain in Dhoni and calming influence of coach Kirsten has helped this team to be more secure in themselves and back their abilities to bounce back from any situation. They showed this ability against West Indies when they pulled things back when Devon Smith was looking to take West Indies home, when Australia was threatening after taking wickets of Gambhir and Dhoni in quick succession, and when Pakistan tried to be on top again and again. The never-say-die attitude is running deep in this team.
The players were quite vocal about their intent to win this World Cup for the country and for the one man who has inspired a complete generation not only in India but across the globe, the one and only Sachin Tendulkar. Fate and some inspired performances has given one more chance to Tendulkar to lay hand on the one elusive tag he is missing in his illustrious career, the tag of a World Champion.
The wait seems to be agonizing. Every cricket lover wants 2nd April to arrive in a jiffy. Let the game begin. Let the billion wishes come true. Let Poonam Pandey do what she has promised to do. Let the whole country erupt in unparalleled joy and ecstasy. Let Sachin Tendulkar achieve what he is destined to achieve. Let the Cricket lovers enjoy what promises to be a cracker of the match.