So the quadrennial event is finally upon us. An event which ICC itself has touted as “The Cup that matters”. This year, the event holds more importance than ever because the response to the event will virtually seal the fate of the ODI format, a format which has lost favour amongst the followers after the advent of the “Royal Rumble” format of cricket, more popularly known as T-20. That the World Cup is back in the subcontinent is but a blessing in disguise, for this is the place where cricket rules the roost and the sport ignites the passion of the viewing public like in no other geographic location. After the stirring opening ceremony, Dhaka has given World Cup back its soul, which had gotten lost in the shambles and chaos of the poorly organised Caribbean spectacle. Let us hope that this is but a good beginning, a precursor of even better things to come.
Every time the World Cup approaches, the Indian marketing/media fraternity goes into an overdrive hyping up the country’s chances and bestows unprecedented expectations on the already “burdened” team. Worn out reels of Kapil taking that magnificent catch to dismiss Richards, of Balwinder Sandhu producing that unplayable delivery and the mighty effective dibbly dobblies of Mohinder Amarnath do the rounds on almost all channels, all advertisements. Numerous past players are interviewed and other less fortunate ones are made part of expert panels which continues to dole out expert analysis 24*7. Under such excruciating pressure if cricketers admit to isolating themselves from the daily world, nobody can blame them for there is only so much you can do to maintain your sanity. However, the country only wishes them the very best of luck, something our captain, MS Dhoni, brings with him in plenty.
As a kid I remember that my first interest in cricket arose from watching the little master in ‘96 World Cup tear opposition attacks to shreds. The master-piece innings of 90 against the Australians is something that I will never forget. That you could get stumped off a wide delivery was a fact unknown to most of us and after Sachin’s dismissal, a prompt change in rules was made in the book-of-decision-making of “Colony cricket”, a format of cricket developed in house. The love for the game developed then hasn’t dwindled a wee bit so far and neither has the expectation placed on the team. Just like any World Cup, I expect India to win and for good reason too. A lot has changed since the disaster of 2007 and it is a sentiment shared by almost a billion people, but for sentiment to give way to pure belief, it will solely depend on how India progress in the tournament. India definitely have the squad, the best of conditions and the support of the entire nation to make this event a water-shed for the current squad and also spare us from watching the old reels of ‘83 again and again.
A lot of events from the not so long ago have done their very best to take the focus off the game. The IPL Saga of who is the owner of which team, who is paying how much and is the IPL commissioner siding with teams did the rounds of media for quite some time before everything was hushed up and swept under the carpet with typical “Indian” ease. The only fallout was that of Lalit Modi, the impostor of Indian cricket, being fired from his position, continuing the tradition of always firing a scapegoat to control the wagging tongues. Then the Spot-fixing scandal came along where the World mourned the loss of perhaps the best opening bowling combination of Asif and Amir. However, all that is past and the focus is firmly on the present. Tomorrow the event begins and it promises to be a cracker. Lot of teams will see their dreams broken and a few will rise to unprecedented glory. A few players will see their names etched in Gold forever while a few will be mocked for their mistakes, costly ones at that [Remember Gibbs’s premature climaxing in ‘99 World Cup]. Will India win the World Cup ?? YES!! Will Sachin finally get to lay his hands on a World Cup ?? YES!! Will you stop watching cricket if India doesn’t win the World Cup ?? OF course not. Nothing will change, as it has not for the last 15 years and it will not in the next 15 years. Such is an Indian cricket fan..