India lost the first wicket at 189 which tells the story
Malinga knew that SL’s glory days were over and that no upset could take them far enough but he roared on. The once and future champions played for pride, wearing tattered but royal robes of a once and perhaps future champion.
It was 1996 and nobody had given them much of a chance but the names, which many no longer remember-- Kaluwitarana, Jaysuriya, Arvind De Silva, Muralitharan, Arjuna Ranataungs -- and others had battled like the lions they were and took the championship in a magnificent show of defiance. The minnows of the cricket world cheered.
Maybe the minnows felt so good because till then; SL was also a minnow but the championship changed that. The mountain was cracked open by the SL hammer as the minnows began to rise as a region. It’s not just India, but Pakistan but Bangladesh, SL and Afghanistan, half of the cup teams are from a single region.
Of course the common strand is its colonial ancestor but that’s becoming an advantage. India today is already challenging everyone as the eye of the cricket storm. If China can be persuaded to join the crowd, the game will change beyond measure and become truly global.
On the last match of the league, India trounced SL, Malinga notwithstanding who had a terrible day taking 1/84. The chasm between the topper and the lower was clear. SL did show some fight as it recovered from 55/4 to score but they couldn’t go beyond 264/7. Angelo Mathews did a wonderful repair job with his 113 aided by Thirimanne (53) but the total was not defendable, not against India.
India lost the first wicket at 189 which tells the story. They crossed SL’s total in the 43rd over and Rahul scored 111 and Rohit’s 103 put the campaign to rest before the semis. India looks very organized and Bumrah, who took three for 37, showed why he is one of the most lethal bowlers in cricket town. His yorkers on display today are deadly. As admitted by many now, this cup is about keeping scores down and making whatever is scored unreachable. The Cup is a bowler’s one.
Defeat doesn’t demean
Towards the end, there was one poignant moment that symbolized the reality of the rise and fall of cricket nations and players. Malinga had bowled one which was hit and went racing towards the boundary. It was his most covered ball, a yorker, but it didn’t scare the batsman at all. The bowler just stood there scratching his hair with a wry smile, knowing the bells had tolled.
But tomorrow calls and defeats don’t demean any team or anyone in cricket. Defeat, be not proud, be not proud.
SA beat Aus, knock down Bangladesh one more spot
SA, a near bottom team, beat Aus, a near top, by 10 runs in a thrilling final. When you lose in the final match when everything is decided, the only difference it made was to Bangladesh--who went down another notch-- to occupy the 8th spot. Both SA and Bangladesh have the same number of points, but SA has a better run rate. I am not sure if anyone is laughing but I am sure it’s isn’t funny. Winning has its virtues it seems.