Cricket is a game where maiden luck continues to puzzle all the fans of the game with her mysterious ways. Every game is punctuated by totally unknown variables that we never knew as existed. If history is any indicator, the crown of “favorites” has only led to a path of prickly thorns of losses, at the most critical of times.
If we go back to the first world cup, England and Australia were the destined two, only to surrender the cup to the dark horseWest Indians who took the world by storm with their cricketing prowess. In 1983 (3rd world cup) no one gave even half a chance to the underdogs Indians when they were the surprise finalists to fight the might of the West Indians. When India won, it was almost as if it was a miracle! This after a fascinating run-up to the finals which showcased Sandeep Patil’s sterling boundary hits, Mohinder Amarnath’s consistent performance with the bat and the ball, Kapil Dev’s heroics ..the list goes on. Yet, the favorites tag remained firmly entrenched on the West Indians and not till the last ball was bowled would the sceptics accept the truth.
If we were to review the 1992 world cup, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were filling the expectations of victors.Pakistan had been lucky to be in the semi-finals at all: following only one victory in their first five matches, they were also fortunate to scrape a point from the washed-out match against England which appeared to be heading for a heavy English victory (Pak 74 all out, Eng 24/1): eventually they finished one point ahead of Australia with an inferior run-rate. The weather gods and the point system put Pakistan in the saddle and they never looked back as they played superbly to go on and win the world cup.
Other than the vagaries of weather, there is another important force at play on the stage of this biggest tournament– Sentiments. From wantonly leaving shoe laces untied or to growing a stubble , there are a plethora of odd gestures and habits which stem from a deep belief in the supernatural. Even in the 1983 world cup, the illustrious Kapil Dev started doubting the “jinx” around the Indian team by leaving Sunil Gavaskar out of the playing eleven. At a certain level, after professional perfection sublimes, the mind turns to orthodox sentiments, if only to clutch at straws of hope.
Finally what wins the cup? Individual stars? All-rounders? Think twice, if you were to subscribe to that mantra—Sachin Tendulkar, the god of Indian cricket, had to play in 6 world cups before winning in one. All-rounders like Kapil Dev, Ian Botham have the best cricketing abilities that humans can have, yet struggled to collect the coveted cup with the pluck of their powerful fingers alone. Cricket is a team game and the cup has been won only by a cohesive group of eleven.
It was almost as if it takes two powerful “1”s to stand together to be the chosen One!