World Cup 2015: Time to Bleed Blue…Again

Defending Champions — sounds like a joke. Has any defending champion ever entered the World Cup as the least favourites to retain the trophy?

It’s depressing to watch the current Indian cricket team play. They are in shambles right now and going into the World Cup, this is the worst preparation ever. Forget winning, India have struggled to even last 100 overs in an ODI game.

The Test series was fine. There was grit, there was a fight. The ODI tri-series, though, knocked the wind out of India. Australia delivered a painful combination to the gut and then England floored MS Dhoni’s men with a solid right hook.

This Indian team reminds me of my engineering college days — I knew what I had to do but I couldn’t do it. All I wanted was to get it over with. I lacked the aptitude but this Team India lack skills and cricketing acumen. The batting is at an all time low. The bowling, unbearable and even Suresh Raina is dropping catches.

It’s one thing to bowl badly but the Indian bowlers have crossed over into a different dimension. Watching them run up just to get smashed into next week, often makes me wonder – how can a group of individuals be so bad at something that they specialise in?

The batting has collapsed on numerous occasions. Shikhar Dhawan has gone into Rip van Winkle mode and no one knows if he’s ever going to wake up from his slumber. His partner, Rohit Sharma burns brightly for some time and then burns himself in the glare of his own talent.

Virat Kohli has now ended up with a string of six one digit scores in a row. In a previous article, I pointed out his technical flaws. As expected, the “Virat-ians” (whatever that means!) murdered me on social media. He’s scored a lot of runs in the last Test series but rewind to Brisbane — pace, bounce, caught in slips, played-on. Now, fast forward to the tri-series and the warm ups — pace, bounce, caught in slips and played-on.

Let’s leave Suresh Raina aside because sooner or later, he will top edge one while trying to hoick over mid-wicket. Ajinkya Rahane has been the only bright spot in this batting unit but then again, he has to play a bad shot after reaching a milestone. He was phenomenal in the Test matches but come the ODIs, he feels obligated to play that bad shot.

MS Dhoni hasn’t scored for a long time. His technique has been found wanting against the bouncing ball. His captaincy too has been bland and he looks like the shadow of the man who lead us to the triumph of 2011.

Okay, end of rant. Let’s get reasonable now.

Let's stand behind the Men in Blue
Let’s stand behind the Men in Blue

Things are bad. Very bad. The injuries have made the situation even worse. With the opening game staring at India, most of us are certain that Dhoni doesn’t need to give back the World Cup, it will be snatched away from him.

Every morning a former cricketer slams the Indian cricket team.They point fingers at the bowling, find faults in the batting or question the team selection. That’s their job, they are paid to say things and those who aren’t getting the fat cheques, those 350 words of scathing criticism get the spotlight back on them.

The experts are skeptical. They always are but it’s disheartening to see the fans give up. India aren’t going to win the World Cup. Certainly not with THAT bowling but the fans just can’t give up.

Reminder: FAN 101 – Change your wife, your job, your car, your religion but never give up on your team because, in any sport, the fans are the soul of a team. Without them, a team is as empty as Rocky without Adrian.

The Indian cricket team fans have had a complicated relationship with MS Dhoni’s team. Most don’t even consider this team as Team India and would rather label it as Chennai Super Kings, version 2.0.

The team has let the fans down with their recent performance, no doubt. Every fan is hurt, including me but, in retrospect, we have let the team down as well. We have gone overboard with our criticism and have slandered the players beyond limits. We have mocked at their skills, bickered about their integrity and with someone like Stuart Binny, we have ripped him apart to the last shreds of his dignity.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s mighty tough to support a losing team but then, the concept of supporting a team is also irrational.

Yet, we do.

Our team is the magnification of our ambitions. We all want to be the best but most of us are failures in our lives. We aspire to fight our demons but lack the zeal or the courage. Our team does that for us — they fight, they win and that boosts our ego. We revel in their success and every Indian, over the past four years, have taken a fancy to the “World Champions” tag and worn it with immense pride.

Now, the test arrives. The Indian cricket team will show their mettle on-field but the fans would face the heat off it. Not many of us have faced it before, 1983 was too far back and so, 1987 isn’t relevant.

2015 is.

Hence, the fans are faced with a few daunting questions. Do we have the heart to support a losing cause? Can we clap in rhythm to Shami’s run up knowing that he might deliver a full toss that will sail over the ropes? Can we chant “Dhooooni…Dhoni” when we know that he was instrumental in not picking our favourite player? Can we strain every sinew in our neck screaming – “we won’t give it back” – when the Indian team is being ripped apart by the opposition?

Do we have the stomach to fight alongside our team?

This isn’t the team we deserved, yet THIS is our team.It’s time to Bleed-Blue again because Team India needs a transfusion. So, stop spitting venom and bear your hearts for them. Let everyone know that Team India’s biggest strength is a billion fans, who can scare the living daylights out of any opposition.

India might lose but let them lose due to batting collapses and poor bowling. Don’t let them go down because their fans failed to turn up. From February 15, suspend your judgments and stand-by Team India in the Blue corner.

Don’t worry, we already have our “Garry Potter” for company:  “India have a good chance of retaining the World Cup” – Gary Kirsten.

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