It takes one back to the heartwarming day when Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon ending the uncertainty that lay ahead as from a soaring orbit it finally achieved its touch-down.
The Indian team is in that precarious position, wherein, they have done the hard yards and will most likely be in a position to lift the glorious World Cup trophy. A touchdown that will bring immense joy to the 1.4 billion fellow countrymen.
The Indian team looks like a well-oiled unit. They have demolished every team that has come their way and the squad seems to be beaming with confidence. One did finally see a smile on their coach Rahul Dravid’s face and this itself shows the positive vibes amongst the support staff as well.
The Indian cricket World Cup teams of 2015 and 2019 unfortunately, faltered at the semifinal stage, and every Indian’s desire and hope would be for the Team of 2023 to be successful this time around.
The cricket World Cup, since its inception, has been a tournament that brings forth a few startling results. India’s win in 1983 was one such example, however, there have been several individual matches where the top sides of that time have been subjected to embarrassing defeats.
Teams now are very familiar with the ODI, 50-overs format. All the 10 participating sides have played a fair amount of it. That is why teams are far more evenly matched and none of them can take any of the matches easy.
England, the reigning champions, are more or less out of the tournament, as even if they were to win all their remaining matches, they would fail to qualify for the knock-out stage. This is when the English side will be most dangerous. With nothing to lose now, they could be the Trojan Horse for the others.
What one has missed in this edition of the World Cup, are genuine fast bowling all-rounders. Maybe, the modern theory of specialization has brought about a downfall of the most glamorous area of the game. The ‘Superstar” all-round cricketers.
Cricket in the past had these gifted godsent players. The best-ever was Sir Garry Sobers but the likes of Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee, Jacques Kallis, Clive Rice, Mike Proctor, Andrew Flintoff, Keith Miller, and Alan Davidson were also the poster boys of World Cricket.
Ben Stokes, from the present lot of cricketers, seems to be the only one who could claim a place amongst these greats. However, his injury has kept him away from bowling.
The beauty of these greats from the past was that they terrorised batters as bowlers and as batsmen, they could change the complete complexion of the game.
The limited-overs version of the game is an ideal platform for such all-round cricket champions and to have none amongst the top world cricketers of today is quite sad to see.
Bedi, the gifted geniuse
The bits and pieces players, who can bowl and bat, are the segment that has grown extensively. The artistry even where spin bowling is concerned has dwindled. There is not a single leg spinner who can be compared to Shane Warne or a left-arm spinner of the class of Bishan Bedi or an off-spinner like Erapalli Prasanna. These were geniuses of their trade, who could spin and bewilder a batter on any wicket.
It was a sad day for Indian cricket at the passing of one of the greatest spin bowlers to have ever played the game. Bishan Singh Bedi was the Rolls Royce of left-arm spin bowling. He was also described as the man who wielded the famous Indian Rope trick in cricket, as his ball seemed to hang in mid-air.
In the present cricket world of DRS reviews, Bedi would have had so many more wickets, as batters used their pads to counter his guile. Bishan has etched himself forever in the history of cricket as a true genius.
The team which has finally found its feet in this World Cup is Afghanistan. Bishan Bedi would have been happy to see that they played four spinners. The team, being ably assisted by Ajay Jadeja, is now looking like a dangerous unit as a bowling side. Young Noor Ul Haq and Rashid Khan, are difficult for the modern batters to fathom. They could squeeze themselves into the final four if their spinners keep bewildering the batsmen.
Cricket is progressing well, however, the lack of spectators at most venues and the hardship that one faces in watching the matches are the concerning issues that have tarnished the image of the tournament. Watching from the comfort of one’s home will become a better option if the conditions at the stadiums do not improve.
This is not an issue when India plays. One wonders what will happen if India does not make it to the final. One may see a lacklustre crowd, similar to what one saw during the opening match between England versus New Zealand.
Let us hope and pray that India keeps soaring high for the sake of both the ICC and the BCCI or else Bollywood song and dance performers will be the only attraction in the final.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal)