National disappointment at India not making it to the World Cup Final is natural, but it is no reason to be heart-broken. We played well, despite injury to star opener, Shikar Dhawan, and the as-yet-unsettled middle batting order. Remember, if players were robots and followed a set pattern, all sport will lose its charm.
On a given day, the best in the world can be beaten by the weakest, which Afghanistan came very close to doing in contests not only against India but Pakistan as well. Surely, there will be a thorough post-mortem of the semi-final loss, especially the total collapse of the top order — ‘45 minutes of bad cricket’, as Virat Kohli aptly put it. For sure, we still could have won but for that fortuitous run-out of well-set Dhoni whose finishing skills are unparallel. Also, the match extending to the next day due to rain was a key factor. Yet, the cricket administration and players both ought to reflect on the excess of cricket telling on the performance of the players at critical stages in international contests.
Traditional domestic tournaments such as Ranji and Duleep Trophy now get step-motherly treatment from both A-category players and BCCI, but it is the IPL with its astronomical fees for individual players which seems to have adversely impacted the classical skills cricketers are required to hone to be able to become world-beaters. No doubt commercialisation of cricket is going apace in other nations as well but India with its pioneering big-bucks, IPL, has taken the lead in injecting money into what till very recently, was a gentleman’s sport –- and, mind you, fully amateur, in the pre-satellite TV era. We are certain the men in blue can regroup and emerge world-beaters again.