Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The World Cup

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The last people to let go of their old gods are the loyal priests. And Srinivasan is the latest example where the cabal most benefiting from his occupation of BCCI and ICC's chair is the one that's most quiet and protective of him. There is no doubt that its self-preservation at work because without these old gods, the priest would have to re-think their lives.

As painful as the saga of Srinivasan has been, it's been more painful to hear the deafening silence of the cricketing gods. India has perhaps survived for many centuries of conquests due to its ability to "shake it off" and continue as if nothing happened. And so we continue to indulge in navel gazing and waiting for the next puppet to emerge from the shadows. The heroes for many of these loyal priests seem to be the Putin-Medvedev combine and not the high standards set by Mandela or Washington. But it's dumb to even think that a man more or less accused of re-writing the constitution to suit his personal agenda would display any different behavior nor that his cabal would condemn it.

Its painful to hear Shastri, Gavaskar, Dhoni and others talk about BCCI and Srinivasan as being the same and pointing to high player salaries and perks as the justification for their enduring admiration. Is this what sport is all about now? Are our sporting gods all about this now? Do they believe that getting a fair deal is a blessing and that it's due to one individual? And that if Srinivasan were to be criticized or held accountable for over-reach, they would lose their pay? And so it's ok to cower in blackmail? What about the cricket? Is cricket in India beholden to one or two persons' largesse? Really?

And the Indian team is a clear reflection of what can be despite our administrators' best efforts to hog the limelight. I think Dhoni is a super player and a great captain. And I think Kohli is playing the brand of cricket that I hoped Tendulkar would always play. Kohli doesn't have Tendulkar's aura yet and he will likely never have that mystique due to the privacy that was dear to Tendulkar. However, Kohli with his public engagement and willingness to live life on his terms without any apologies is refreshing. I sincerely hope that people who don't like his brashness and are worshipers of humility don't trash him the moment he starts failing. He deserves as long a rope if not longer than what Tendulkar was given when his form slumped.

India has no bowling worth the name and it's batting is struggling to come to grips with Australia. While Rohit Sharma's form is a welcome sign, Dhawan hasn't produced a single meaningful innings in all his time in Australia. And without both openers being in form, India have no chance. Turning to Kohli or Dhoni or magic in every game isn't a formula for success. Rahane and Raina can add bulk but cannot turn games on their head. At best they are valuable supporting cast. The players that can take the game away from the opposition are Rohit, Kohli and Dhoni. These are the men that no one has answers for.

Pakistan is inspired and yet I don't see how they can topple this Indian team. But if Pakistan has had a better chance I don't know of one. India usually don't start well in such tournaments but this would be a home world cup for India given the amount of time they've spent in Australia.

This Pakistan team under Misbah is a team that I can like. Misbah, Afridi and Younis represent the three types of Pakistan teams that we've all come to see. Misbah is about the steel and pride that Zaheer Abbas and Asif Iqbal reflected, Afridi is the mercurial ability Inzy, Akram and Waqar played with and Younis is about the passion that we saw from Imran, Sarfraz, Miandad and Saeed Anwar. There is a certain beauty to Pakistan cricket that few teams can match.

I put India a nose ahead in this game simply because Indians have played a lot of cricket and don't usually need miracles to win games. They are experienced and know when to turn it on.