Twenty years have passed since the legendary Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the best player award on South African soil, when Ricky Poting’s team from lower divisions celebrated the world’s greatest reward in cricket under the bright glare of the spotlight.
The tournament’s format was modified, the teams’ rosters were altered, the venue was moved, and the existing technology was modernized. However, the outcome seems to have stayed the same on paper.
Australia, dressed in gold and green, raising the ICC ODI World Cup trophy high while an Indian player, sporting a wry mile, poses with the player of the tournament award.
It sounds a lot like 2003, doesn’t it?
Only that this time, Australia headed by Pat Cummins celebrated on Indian territory as Virat Kohli, the heir apparent to Tendulkar’s reign, emerged as the best payer in the ICC showcase.
With a run of record-breaking exploits, including four half-tons and three hundreds, Kohli broke Tendulkar’s record for most runs in a World Cup edition, scoring 765 runs in 11 games.
In the 50-over format, he also achieved his 50th ODI century to surpass Tendulka’s record of triple-digit finishes.
To add to the already unbearably bitter situation, another Indian player ended up with the golden ball meant for the player with the most wickets in the competition. Shami Mohammed.
With an incredible 24 wickets in 7 games, Shami led the wicket-takers chart and deservedly won the individual award.
But at the end of the day, not even the joint efforts of the campaign’s top scorer and top wicket-taker could secure the right to wear the winner’s medal around their necks.
Most likely, the men in blue suffered the consequences of the law of averages at the worst possible moment for the cricket-crazed subcontinental country. Or maybe it was the Australian swagger that has been passed down through the years that the males from Down Under appear to have inherited.
Some people believe that if intergenerational trauma is real, then its opposite must also be recognized.
With every World Cup, the aura around the players wearing yellow seems to be becoming bigger and brighter, and the Australians seem to be placing a high value on it.
Due to the trophy’s slippage as well as recency bias, the nation’s mental health may be somewhat worse after losing to Australia in the summit match in 2023.
Rohit Sharma and company were rubbing their hands together with a gleam in their eyes at the chance to turn continental success into something bigger heading into the finals. They had been unbeatable up until that point, winning ten straight games and coming off of an incredibly successful Asian Cup campaign in which the men in blue crushed the spirits of a helpless Sri Lanka to take home the continental trophy.
The men in blue’s triumph against the same Australian team in the tournament’s first match—a 5 wicket rout at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium—further contributed to the story of the Indian dream.
The script seemed to be changed for a rematch in the championship game in front of more than 100,000 Indians in the largest cricket stadium in the world, on home ground. What may go incorrectly?
However, much as in sports, you don’t always obtain your want in life.
Sports have the power to inspire you when you’re down and out and to clip your wings when you feel unstoppable.
High-profile setbacks tend to touch the national psyche, thus losses are felt in a country like India where emotions are highly valued and run high and where cricket is more of a religion than a sport.
Even though they lost to the most successful 50-over cricket team ever, Indians everywhere, even in India, may find comfort in the knowledge that this squad, captained by Rohit Sharma and including Virat Kohli, gave it their best on the field and didn’t hold back.
When reflecting on “the tournament that was” rather than “what the tournament could have been,” fans will undoubtedly recall the zeal with which team India represented the country throughout the course of the preceding month with warm nostalgia.