World Cup 2019: Why India's campaign wasn't a failure despite the team crashing out in the semi-finals
The sun still rises the morning after the defeat, as the Indian Cricket Team and the fans are both left to pick up the bits and pieces of the truncated campaign left behind.
As the first semi-final of this year's World Cup went into day two, thanks to the ominous rains that have constantly tailed most teams, spirits were high. Both, for fans of team India and the Blackcaps supporters; the former set believing anything under 250 was a chaseable target, the latter determined that the resilient New Zealand side will prove their mettle yet again.
In the end, the Kiwis turned out to be the stronger side on the day, dominating the field of play in the second innings with their rigid discipline and sticking to plan. With the Indian top order crumbling for barely 5 runs on the board, the Kane Williamson side ensured they barely took the foot off the pedal, choking the life out of the batting side with tight bowling and periodic wicket-taking deliveries.
And despite Ravindra Jadeja's resilient batting display, India fell just short - by 18 runs - collapsing even as the finishing line was in sight.
Such is the cruel nature of the sport, of the format, that the table-toppers have been knocked out of the contest, returning home with nothing to show for the tournament of their lives. The cold pages of a history book will remember just the scorecards and not the edge-of-the-seat thriller matches this team has given us throughout the tournament.
So here are a few things Indian fans should take away from the World Cup campaign:
We're still a strong side
The five stages of grief is never more evident than when you see Indian fans after the national team has crashed out of an ICC tournament. Back in the '90s, we'd skip the first stage of denial and head straight to anger, depression and acceptance quite quickly.
With the team becoming resurgent at the turn of the century, our denial and bargaining stages became a lot more evident, but so did the anger. How many times have we seen fans calling for heads being rolled and line ups being overhauled when team India doesn't go all the way? Loads of times.
Every social networking platform has been abuzz with the kind of convinced tips and tricks that only an Indian fan can conjure up since the top order collapse began on Wednesday evening.
But take a breather and head to the bargain bit of grief. Up until the second half of the match yesterday, we'd been the stronger team. Despite being probably the most injury-plagued side, what with Shikhar Dhawan, Vijay Shankar and the minor scare that Bhuvneshwar Kumar endured, the team has moved the pieces around enough to have a battle-ready unit.
The criticism that Rishabh Pant, in particular, has had to endure has probably been the most unfair and undeserved of the lot. At 21 years of age and only eight matches in, Pant has been a rising star in the Indian ranks. It's hardly fair to expect a player this raw, this new into the side, to play a match-winning knock. To be fair to him, he wasn't even in the initial squad announced for the World Cup, and even endured the long drawn-out debates on whether he could fit into the number four role in the line-up.
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