The world better take India seriously!
Despite keeping cricket as a sport alive, India gets ridiculed at every opportunity, says Faisal Shariff, bristling at the way India was ridiculed at the World Cup launch.
The story’s changed, but they refuse to accept the reality even now.
It was appalling to watch the host of the World Cup launch in Melbourne mock India and that too at this country’s first World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev.
The Aussie taunted Kapil at the launch, asking him if he is worried about India playing two matches at the WACA, Perth, during the 2015 World Cup, considering India’s poor record at the bouncy pitch there!
The MC further went onto ask Kapil if he wanted to lobby for a change in the schedule.
Had the MC dared to pose this question to the more suave and witty Sunil Gavaskar and/or Ravi Shastri, he would have received a fitting reply.
Kapil unfortunately is not exactly proficient in the Queen’s English and was a bit more rustic in his reply, simply observing that the matches may have been scheduled owing to the television timings as a day-night match at Perth starts at 11 am IST!
Now for a reality check: Despite the constant taunts about India’s dismal record at Perth, it has been better than projected.
In 2008 after the Sydney Test fiasco, India was supposed to be blown away by the man who bowls faster than the wind, Shaun Tait. What happened next?
India registered its first-ever Test win at the venue.
For the record: India has played four Tests at Perth, losing thrice. But one of those losses was in the first Test they played at the WACA, by a very narrow two-wicket margin in 1977-1978 when the tail got Australia home.
Image: Indian 12th man Harbhajan Singh runs onto the field to celebrate India's 72 run win over Australia after day four of the Third Test between Australia and India at the WACA on January 19, 2008 in Perth, Australia
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Who says India is scared of playing at WACA?
India scared of playing matches at Perth? Think again.
Even during the then regular annual tri-series jamboree, India fared well, winning low-scoring matches, even beating the host.
For the record: India has played ten ODIs at the WACA, winning four and losing five with one tie (that famous Sachin Tendulkar moment in 1991-1992).
What does this stat prove? Again, nothing.
What it reveals is that India is looked at as a cricket team from the prism of what may have happened long ago in its cricketing history, instead of its current reality.
That’s exactly the reason the two 4-0 whitewashes in Australia and England did not help, because all the hardwork put in by the class of 2000s was frittered away and it was back to the old narrative.
It is amazing that India despite being the front runner in keeping cricket as a sport alive, gets ridiculed at every opportunity.
And it is even more ridiculous that this was allowed to pass at the launch of no less than the 2015 World Cup from an ICC platform.
If anything, the host could have been better prepared rather than making his contempt for India known.
The launch itself, he forgets, was because of the largesse shown by Indian sponsors or else the sport or the ODI format itself would be on its last legs!
Image: Sachin Tendulkar had done well at the WACA during India's ODI series in 1991-'92
Photographs: Ben Radford/Staff/Getty Images
The schedule resembles everything that is wrong with the World Cup
Coming to the World Cup schedule itself and you are left wondering who decides the matches!
Sri Lanka play Bangladesh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. An iconic ground hosting such a nondescript match defies all logic.
Why would you leave out the historic Basin Reserve ground in Wellington from hosting a World Cup game?
The very essence of playing in New Zealand is to counter the windy conditions at grounds like the Basin Reserve. Instead we are left playing at the rugby ground in the same city!
This is as amazing as Sri Lanka playing New Zealand in the recent Champions Trophy on a Sunday. That was as classic any scheduling can be.
Coming from an Indian may be it is a bit rich, considering we play an ODI in Rajkot, then in Delhi, moving on to Ranchi, onwards to Bangalore and then back again in Mohali.
Still the schedule resembles everything that is wrong with the World Cup in its present form. We spend three weeks spotting the obvious quarter-finalists and then starts the real World Cup in the final fortnight!
The sooner we get to 2019 the better, for that’s when are meant to have a 10-team World Cup.
Image: ICC President Alan Isaac announces the pool draws
Photographs: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images for ICC