Monday, April 04, 2011

India wins the Cricket World Cup 2011

Sachin Tendulkar kissing the Wold Cup India won

This post is to celebrate India's victory in The ICC Cricket World Cup, 2011. I can't control my emotions as I write this, with tears coming out all over my eyes. Though I am an ardent Test Cricket lover, this world cup victory (though in limited overs format) is my proudest moment as an Indian cricket fan.

Its my 50th post
Writing 50 posts has been a achievement for me as I have been writing blogs rather consistently for last 5 years on various aspects of cricket, business, my personal life and technology. All the posts have been about expressing my original thoughts and opinions. It was never meant to be a source of news/information about any subject. It will always be about me and that it why it is my 'personal blog'.

Dhoni - The Leader/Hero
I would like to single out Dhoni's captaincy and Kirsten's coaching as the most important factors for Team's success. While most of us try to achieve coolness in not preparing before an event. They did all the hard, dirty, uncool things like planning, preparation and practice.
Dhoni, a middle class boy from poorest state of Jharkhand, not known to have produced any cricketers before, no role model to look up to. Having ordinary aspirations like riding bikes, drinking buckets of milk, hanging out with friends. He has come a long way to be remembered as among the best sports leaders of all time.
Whatever Dhoni has been touching have been turning gold. He has taken India to No.1 in Tests for last year and half, World T20 Cup in 2007, now The World Cup, IPL 2010 and Champions League 2010. His midas touch is not just about luck, it is about his hard work, leadership, ability to deal with pressure situation with a cool head and it is basically his personality.
After this World Cup triumph, I would rate him as a bigger match winner for India even bigger than Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble. As in a team game, I believe the biggest contribution a person can make is as a leader than as a batsman, bowler or a wicket keeper. A leader who gets the best out of the team is always more valuable than a specialist who does his job well.

Dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin, we know has achieved everything a batsmen can do in Tests and ODIs. 15000 runs and 51 tons in Tests, 18000 runs and 48 tons in ODIs at a batting average and strike rate well above par. And yeah, he hasn't scored his 100th International hundred which he will definitely score sometime. But what was missing from his cup-board was a World Cup.
Virat Kohli's famous words after the match - "Sachin has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It's only fair we carry him now".
He has done everything Team India had asked over the years and now the team has won him the World Cup, rather he has himself contributed by scoring 482 runs with 2 hundreds and 2 fifties all against Test playing nations in important games. Waited for 22 years and he knows its value better than anyone else. Ask an Australian player of 2000s, he will tell it very casually “Yeah, I was part of the World Cup winning team”. But to Sachin it is everything, despite having so many other things with him that nobody else have.

How we reached here
Not long ago, just 11 years back, Indian cricket had reached its nadir. Whitewashed by Australia 3-0, whitewashed by South Africa 2-0 at home, never won a Test Series abroad for 14 years and crippled by match fixing controversy. But we did have a bunch of supremely talented players.
Then came Ganguly Wright era when things started turning around. That match in Kolkata and The Series against Australia in 2001 set the tone and laid the foundation for future that we are seeing now. The players in Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan brought the team into a steep ascent. Now Gautham Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni form the core of this Champion Indian Team.

What this world cup will do for the team
Being good, talented, gifted, excellent, exceptional are all lesser when compared to being “Champions”. We have always known Indians as former, but with great leadership we have transcended to become latter i.e. Champions. Before the CB series win in Australia 2008, India has always been the best team in the tournament only to end up being runners up.
From now they get into any match as favourites, as world champions, no push overs in any conditions. They have the pressure to perform well and win games and series. More than the pressure it gives them enormous self-confidence and belief that they can win anything. Winning they say is a habit and the team will be carrying that habit.

What next?
India has some important tours coming up this year with the 4 Test series in England and a 4 Test series in Australia. India haven't won a series in Australia and South Africa but they have come close by drawing in the recent years. From a point 10 years ago where India would be happy to not get whitewashed, now they go there expecting to whitewash the opponents at their home. They won't be satisfied with just a series win with a 1 test margin.
Gary Kirsten tenure as Indian Coach is over. Ganguly and Kumble have retired. Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman may retire any time soon. Sehwag, Zaheer, Harbhajan have reached 30s. We may face a similar situation like Australians are finding now. The next generation cricketers who grow up playing limited overs cricket may find it difficult to cope with the rigours of Test cricket.

Leadership Lessons
  • Leader takes decisions, which may be against the popular logic, but ultimately he is responsible for his decisions. The buck stops with him. So, he should be free to take decisions based on his gut feel.
  • Great Leaders in Alan Border, Steve Waugh and now MS Dhoni have been the practitioners of the saying Tough times don't last but tough men do.
  • Don't try to avoid/escape pressure, deal with it. Indian chase had reached a point where they had things under control after a 100 run partnership between Gambhir and Dhoni, but there was still pressure with required run rate still over 6. Gambhir wanted to release pressure by completing his century quickly and also bring the required run-rate down. So, he went for a rash shot and perished. But Dhoni was willing to take the pressure and slowly pushed the game forward just 25 runs at a time. He showed his heroism of completing the game with a six only when it was absolutely sure that India would win, when they were only one hit away from glory and the ball was in the slot for that shot.
  • It is not about skills and power, it is about the ability to handle pressure. Sachin and Dhoni have been handling pressure of 1.21 billion people. But Sachin has loads of talent too. Dhoni, except that he can hit those helicopter shots has no special talent as such.
  • As a leader of my organization, whenever I am under trouble, I will always visualise Dhoni for the cool head he keeps under pressure.