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A game of margins – Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for team India

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So Indian cricket team bowed out of 2019 cricket world cup owing to their defeat to a determined NZ team in the first semi-final. Chasing a modest total of 240, Indian team bundled out for 221 in the last over to give millions a heartbreak who had already started praying for an Australian win so that India could avoid a resurgent English team in their own backyard in the Lord’s final.

But it was just not meant to be!

Sports are by nature unpredictable. No matter how strong an individual or a team is, the other side always has a chance. That’s what make them so exciting to watch. It was an amazing game of cricket. A game which Indian team should be proud of despite their heartbreaking loss.

It was a game where everything that Indian fans thought could have gone wrong for team India went wrong. A day long rain spell, which forced the match into the reserve day, meant that the spice in the pitch was back for Indian innings. NZ new ball bowlers swung the ball just enough to send back the Indian top order which had scored the majority of the runs for the team. Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli – all got out after scoring a solitary run.

Virat Kohli was given out LBW when the DRS showed that half-a-inch height would have forced the on field umpire to overturn his decision. India badly missed a proper number 4 which had been the only talking point before the start of the tournament and even throughout. Indian young guns – Rishab Pant and Hardik Pandya, though showed a lot of fight, grit and determination but also gave a proof of their inexperience when both of them just could not hold themselves back any longer and decided to take on the lone spinner in middle of a fabulous spell.

Indian think tank committed its biggest blunder of the tournament to not send Dhoni earlier ahead of Hardik Pandya when his experience and calmness at the pitch could have helped the young stroke makers. All this led to India slumping to 92 for 6 in the 31st over, still requiring almost 150 runs off 20 overs. But what transpired after that should give a sense of pride to every Indian cricket team fan and just showed why this Indian team is different from the ones in the past.

The last recognized batting pair of Dhoni and ‘Sir’ Jadeja took the game close with Jadeja playing the innings of his life under tremendous pressure. If it would have been the old team, there would have been no fight, forget the confidence of winning from such a grim situation but this is ‘new Indian team’ which believes that they can win from any situation and they almost did. When Jadeja got out India still required 32 off 13 balls, an equation which most of the Indian fans would have taken after the end of 31st over.

Dhoni took it upon himself like he has done throughout his career with superhuman success rate to take the team home in the last 2 overs. He started with a six which brought the equation down to 25 from 10 balls. He knew he needed to play all the 10 balls for India to have a chance but he also knew in his heart that he was not the same Dhoni as he was, say, 5 years ago. He took the opposition’s best fielder on to sprint for a couple but an unlikely direct hit from the deep made him fell short by the thinnest of the margins possible. Half a centimeter more and result could have been different.

So, again whatever that could have gone wrong for India went wrong – a top order collapse, a marginal LBW call, young talents showing their inexperience, Dhoni getting run-out by thinnest of margins and a lack of solid middle order. Despite all this they did not surrender, they fought valiantly to take it to the last over, to make it one of the most exciting game of cricket to watch, to loose it with the thinnest of margins.

In such a game of margins, Indian team and their fans should be proud of the performance put in by the team rather than lamenting the loss. There is no shame in loosing such a game of cricket and Indian team should come home with their heads held high!

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