Perception - a current buzz word Indian fans need to move away from

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Perception - a current buzz word Indian fans need to move away from

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Bastab K Parida

01/08/2019

In the modern-day world, pre-conceived notions, however wrong, matter as much as the staggering reality. Even though the person in front of you faces thousands of obstacles on his way to glory that would cement his legacy, it makes way for a very little introspection for the outsiders.

Here is how it comes to the effect in the Indian cricket recently. 

After the formalities of Border-Gavaskar Trophy celebration was done, many on Twitter said that Australia could have won the series if Steve Smith and David Warner were available and this Indian win doesn’t hold any value for Indian cricket because it came against an outfit that is bruised, depleted and also, disgraced. Then another person from the team management came ahead, with full of pomposity and pride, said that "those who are firing the blanks would go away like a tracer bullet within no time. This win is as big as the “1983 World Cup win and 1985 World Championship success”. There was an eerily silence in the room with one person looking at the other, with full of surprise on their faces. Twitter, again, went crazy, with opinions dividing for both sides. In the world of perception, facts went for a toss.

Indian cricket fans, for long, have been as mysterious as was humanly possible. No one quite knows what they actually want - to win or to behave, to win against Australia or to win against an Australian side with Steve Smith and David Warner in it. As I said in the beginning, perception decoded everything. Literally everything in the Indian milieu. 

For example, you don’t need to go back more than 15 years to look at one of the most significant achievements in the Indian cricketing history - the Adelaide win in 2003. As history has it, a person with an impregnable defence and unflinching focus stood like a rock to dismantle Australia in both the innings to give India one of their best wins of all-time. Rahul Dravid was the epitome of everything great about batsmanship since that innings, and each time India made a visit to Australia, it is always remembered. But, we never bring the topic that Australia didn’t have Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, and Shane Warne. That sums it up.

Don’t get me wrong. It is not an attempt to demean Dravid’s achievements, rather an effort to put the current Indian series win into perspective. Just the way scoring more than three hundred runs in a single match was not a mean achievement, this Indian side taking 70 wickets in seven innings deserve the same level of applause, if not more. Doesn’t matter how brittle the opposition batting line-up was, or who do they miss in their team. Indian bowlers, led by a bowler who is not even a year old in international cricket, convincingly outplayed their counterparts - the same quartet that was successful in dismantling England in the last Ashes.

Leaving the statistics alone, one wouldn’t be wrong to state that this Test series win was a byproduct of every good thing that the Indian team management have done over the last couple of years. When India turned up in Johannesburg earlier this year, they were already 2-0 down, series lost, but mind was not in a distant place. Kohli, in as many emphatic words, had made it clear that they were not "rolled over" by South Africa’s dominance, and traded blow for blow to pull one back at the Wanderers. In England, he lost all five tosses, yet never ever took a back seat. It takes courage on the face of a 4-1 series loss to say that they played “extremely well”. This Indian team believed that the scoreline doesn’t reflect the kind of effort they have put in, and they believed that they could turn the result on its head eventually. The result came in Australia.

While we are gushing over the fact that the Aussies lacked two of their best batsmen, one must not forget that in the Dharamsala Test against the same opposition in 2017-18, India had also lost Kohli to shoulder injury, and still managed to put up a convincing win. A Test match is won by the combination of a number of individual performances at the time of need and not by only one or two individuals. When Kohli failed, Pujaja turned up. When KL Rahul failed to make a statement, Mayank Agarwal boarded a flight overnight to strike a well crafted 77 and 42 in two innings. Vijay struggled, well Vihari made up for it. So, when Kohli says they are confident, it is not always corporate style talk that he has mastered, rather it is what he sees in his teammates. It reflected well throughout the series to bring an end to the 71-year wait.

Again, perception can hold true for many things in life. For example, Ravi Shastri saying “This is the best Indian team in the 15-20 years”, there is a statistical claim to back it up. Kohli has won the toss in 12 away Tests in his career, he won 8 and drew 4. Never ever, he has lost a match after winning the battle of the luck. It says something about the trend, as much as the team. It is a team virtually unbeatable when they won the toss and never accepted the defeat even if they lost the toss. It was never the case in the past. This team is just way too good.

A cricket romanticist may well say how close a Test series 2005 Ashes was, but history, like many things, has always been sided with the winners and Australia’s batch of 2018-19 will be haunted by theirs. The series might not have contained so many moments with so many possibilities, after Smith and Warner were sidelined, history would see it as one of India’s biggest achievements in Test cricket. Perceptions and opinions that day would hardly matter. But the fact that we, as fans, need to realise at the earliest and celebrate one of the greatest Indian victories instead of being clouded by “what if”.

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