ICC World Cup 2011: Sachin Tendulkar's 99th Century in Vain as India Chokes

Nikhil SumanContributor IMarch 13, 2011

NAGPUR, INDIA - MARCH 12:  Zaheer Khan of India celebrates with team mate Sachin Tendulkar after taking the wicket of Graeme Smith of South Africa during the Group B ICC World Cup Cricket match between India and South Africa at Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground on March 12, 2011 in Nagpur, India.  (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

As the dust settles down on India's painful defeat in yesterday's roller coaster of a match, I feel implored to write something about it. I wanted to write this article yesterday itself, but knew that I was too angry to write anything even close enough to something that would have been acceptable on this forum. Now that I have cooled down, I think I can write something sensible enough and will not just vent my frustrations in the form of this article. But I will warn you that some of it may just creep in here. 

You have to believe me when I say that I don't get angry when India loses a match. Even when India lost the 2003 WC final, I was sad but not angry. Not by a long way. I do get it, that in sports, you can't win every day. And as an Indian cricket team supporter since 1995, I have gotten quite used to being on the wrong side of a result.

It's not even the way that India lost that has got me so frustrated. Believe me, I have seen worse. In fact, I believe that we fought really well in the second half, and that our bowling and fielding was much better as compared to our previous efforts. Apart from two or three instances in the field, I would say that our players put great effort in their fielding.

If you have tolerated me till now, then you are probably wondering "What's this guy's problem?" My problem is that the team in general, its captain in particular, is unwilling to admit its mistakes. Forget about learning from it. You could paste that smile of yours on your face and say as many times as you want that our fielding is poor, or the ground was too big, or the total was defensible, or that our batsmen have to learn not to play for the crowd and on and on, but at the end of the day, you have to realize your failures. You have to learn from your mistakes and make sure that you do not repeat them.

Believe me, everyone knows that fielding is not our forte. Everyone knows that our bowling is not good enough. You don't have to repeat that every time you suck. You have to concentrate on your strengths and make sure that you give your best. Believe me, I don't want anything else. If you lose after doing that, then its fine by me.

But the fact is that for the second time in a row, we have failed to do that. Second time in a row, our fabled batting lineup has failed us. And this time they have failed so miserably that by comparison their effort against England looks valiant. What on earth can explain the loss of nine wickets for mere 29 runs? Don't give me reasons like playing for the gallery or any such crap. Next thing we know, you would be whining about not getting enough sleep or forgetting to put your L-Guard on.

I will tell you the reason of our epic failure. The reason was that we learned nothing from our previous failure under similar circumstances. We forgot how trying to smack everything out of the ground had brought us down against England. Batting power play does not give you the license to smack everything without caring about the field or situation. It's about playing sensibly and taking advantage of the restrictions. Not about going berserk and losing your head.

But what irked me as much as the antics of Pathan and co. were the inability of Dhoni to get the ball away. Even when he was in the company of Yuvraj, he was struggling. His strike rate of 57 without the willingness to protect the tail tells the story of the failure of our middle order. This after the day he had asked his top three for even bigger starts, so that the middle order could carry on the momentum tells how much dismissive he was of the happenings of the England fixture.

I can only hope that the team works on its strategies, as it is not the talent but the lack of a flexible strategy while batting that is hurting the team's chances. You can't just rely on plan A. You must have a plan B and plan C too. I just hope that it works out for us in the all-important coming games.

In the end, I would also like to say that our bowling, as well as fielding, was superb for most of the game. It was refreshing to see our players giving their all in the field. To his credit, Dhoni was brilliant behind the stumps. If this continues and our batsmen somehow workout their strategy of batting in the last 15 overs, we will surely go far in the tournament.


Sachin Scores a Brilliant Century 

There is nothing left to say about this great man. Only in the case of Sachin can a brilliantly crafted century be mentioned as a footnote in any article, as has became quite a norm.

Nowadays, it's news when he does not score runs. But yesterday's century was a special one, as it leaves him just one short of the unimaginable Everest of 100 international centuries.

If it weren't for the epic failure of his teammates, yesterday would have been a joyous day for him and his fans like me. I can remember that it's at least the 11th or 12th time that his century has come in a lost cause. It would be better if his teammates actually do their work rather than just talk about winning the cup for him. I appreciate the thought but I am sure that actions will speak louder than the words.

I pray to God that he gives Sachin the strength of body (as Sach can take care of the mind part himself) to achieve his dream. Amen!