mid-day analyses Team India's ICC World Cup campaign

Mar 27, 2015, 09:00 IST | Clayton Murzello

Defending champions India are out of the World Cup. Heartbreaking? Yes. Could have played smarter? Yes again. Shameful, disgraceful? No and no.

Why? Because India put up a good fight against an opponent that had the best credentials in the World Cup, save fellow semi-finalists New Zealand and South Africa.

MS Dhoni and his band of boys have won the respect of millions of fans thanks to their spirited World Cup campaign. Pic/Getty Images
MS Dhoni and his band of boys have won the respect of millions of fans thanks to their spirited World Cup campaign. Pic/Getty Images

How many of us could visualise, after the disastrous tri-series in which India lost every encounter to England and Australia, playing a game for a place in the final of the World Cup? Before India played Afghanistan in their second and final World Cup warm-up game, Dhoni’s men had not won a game in 80 days. A bad tour of Australia can cause scars that don’t heal for years. Teams that have been at the receiving end of a shellacking there will vouch for this.

That the players could get up, take a good look at themselves in the mirror and beat teams like Pakistan and South Africa first up in the World Cup is a wonderful achievement in itself.

At the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday, Australia were simply too good, near invincible, while building a 328-run total. Losing four wickets for 51 runs at one stage notwithstanding, the Aussies resembled smart kids putting together a jigsaw puzzle in record time after Steve Smith’s century.

To paper over India’s cracks would be painting with artificial colours. Sure, India’s three pacers conceded a total of 215 runs, Virat Kohli was inexplicably adhesive (13 balls for one run) and Dhoni’s run out made him look like a rabbit caught in headlights after a run-a-ball 65, but these foibles are not rare in the ebb and flow of a cricket match. Dhoni getting lucky with the toss could have produced a different result.

One semi-final loss should not discredit India. Not after seven wins on the trot, an unprecedented Indian achievement.

The writer is mid-day’s Group Sports Editor

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