It’s April 3, 2011 and a rare sight at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore today as the stadium is jam packed without giving off free tickets. And why wouldn’t it be, it is the final of the 2011 ICC cricket world cup and curtains for a golden generation in Indian cricket. They was rubberstamped as a team of some old guns but the team still managed to get into the final being the dark horses of the tournament. On the other side is their arch rivals Pakistan who will be looking to win this one for the people who lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the country.
It’s an interesting situation with the Indian cricket team now; the authorities have been struggling to grow sport in the nation but there are still failing to attract youngsters to the game. With the Football team qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the pressure was definetly BCCI to pull off a show. And the bankrupt board has left no stones unturned in doing so; Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will be opening his mouth in a long time as he will be in the commentary box for the match wearing colorful turbans and the board is also looking to launch a English Premier League like cricket league with the prize money if they win. Along with that BCCI President Javagal Sreenath is already making moves to make the retired cricketers home tutors for the handful of youngsters in the team.
The captains walked onto the pitch for the toss, India is led by one of the greatest captains in their cricketing history, Sourav Ganguly while Pakistan is led by hard hitting Shahid Afridi. Steve Bucknor and Billy Bowden will be officiating the match. The coin rose and fell with India choosing to ball first. The decision is flashed in the big screen along with the lineups.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi ©, Taufeeq Umar, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Kamran Akmal (wk.), Shoaib Malik, Azhar Mahmood, Saqlain Mushtaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul.
No surprises in the lineups, it’s going to be a deserved sendoff for the old horses Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble with the stadium being loud enough without any speakers under the seats. Dravid requires special recognition from the lot as he has established himself as one of the best batsmen in the world along with Brian Lara, Jack Kallis and Ricky Ponting. He is currently the top run scorer in test cricket while the second highest in One dayers behind Ricky Ponting. And throughout the nineties he has been instrumental in keep the test status of India intact. Ganguly meanwhile has influenced so much that he converted a minnow team into a world cup finalist. Like Dravid, Laxman has also been among the runs and stands there in the top five run getters in test cricket and Kumble has been charming the bowling department for more than a decade. The fielding department is aided by Kaif who is still unmatched as one of the best fielders in the nation at cover. Uthappa is a prospect for the future with many pundits terming him as a successor for Dravid. But then again the team is facing an uphill task to find replacement for these stars. However, a certain youngster named Arjun has been causing chaos in the Mumbai under-17 team which is the only good sign at the moment.
Elsewhere the match has started with a cruising Pakistan who has hit a massive 55 runs from the first ten over without no loss of wicket.
Like India, Pakistan will be desperate to win this match to keep the sport alive in a country hit with terrorism. But it won’t be an easy task as the Indians are backed by a full house crowd for the first time in more than a decade. The sport has been also failing to find sponsors and broadcasters with even their channel DD Sports being bankrupt because of low profits. The comparatively faster ODIs are also losing fans with money flowing to other sports like Tennis and football. And football was recently hit with a corruption row involving Lalit Modi who sank the money invested in I-League forcing a long list of players like Emile Heskey and Thierry Henry to return to the MLS. And that’s a department where cricket stands out as the money involved with the sport is very low.