India became the ICC Champions by beating England in a rain affected, 20-overs-a-side final. It became only the second country after the West Indies to win all three ICC competitions (ODI World Cup, T20 World Cup and the ICC CT). India steamrolled its way into the semi-finals with convincing wins over teams like South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan. In the semis they beat Sri Lanka (yes, yet again) – a tie that has now become as exciting as most of the daily soaps.
Then came the final and also the most consistent part of the tournament after India – the rain. The match was reduced to a T20 game and India edged England. Some might say India were lucky to win the final (it indeed looked like it with Ishant Sharma taking two set batsmen in two consecutive deliveries).
It was not the first time when India was under pressure to perform only for them to enter a tournament and win it. The controversial IPL with its spot-fixing scandals and the antics played by the BCCI top brass (more like brats) thereafter meant that India, and especially MS Dhoni, had to perform well in the Champions Trophy to divert the attention of the public. This is exactly what Indian team did. Dhoni was probably the best captain of the tournament and India was by far the best team that remained unbeaten. It did the trick and the headlines in the newspapers changed from Srinivasan to Shikhar Dhawan.
After the success in England, India has now travelled to the Caribbean in what seems to be a completely unnecessary and a mundane tri-series with Sri Lanka (yes, yet again) the third team. By now the Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers must be more familiar with each other than their own wives and girlfriends. It was supposed to be a Test match series between West Indies and Sri Lanka according to the Future Tour Programs (FTP) of the ICC. But who will watch a dull Test series involving two teams with cash-strapped boards. So what they do, they call a team that brings money wherever it plays – India and make it a slightly less dull ODI tri-series. It isn’t the first time that the BCCI has packed a series in an already packed schedule. If we want to know there is life on Mars, then I say play India in a cricket match and if there is any life, it will come to watch. The BCCI will as usual accept this proposal gladly and Nimbus or Sony will grab the television rights for the next 5 Martian years and telecast the match where every over has 5.5 deliveries.
Anyway, India has lost the first two matches. The West Indies beat India by one wicket and then Sri Lanka absolutely mauled India. Two surprising things happened in that match. The first one was Sri Lanka beating India so badly that even if India would have followed on, it would have lost. The second one was Angelo Mathews making a quickfire 44 in 29 balls after coming in at number 3. It’s not the first time either that the Men in Blue have completely turned around after a huge success. Remember the disastrous tours of England and Australia after winning the 2011 World Cup. India has also lost their captain MS Dhoni for the rest of the series due to hamstring injury (no doubt due to excessive cricket). The only upside of it is that some of the sadistic fans will watch the matches at night just to see Virat Kohli fret in the tense moments. It won’t be surprising either if India now wins the remaining group games quite convincingly as again they find their backs against the wall again. At the time of writing this, India already has beaten West Indies quite convincingly. This is typical Team India.
It will be interesting to see as usual how the Blue Brigade moves on, what happens in the temporary era of Jagmohan Dalmiya and the video conferences of ever so indispensable Concrete Man, Mr. Srini. It all never ceases to amuse!