Ahmedabad, November 20
The day after, the grief in Ahmedabad seemed inextinguishable.
In this ‘dry state’, where the sale of alcohol is prohibited, people woke up with a terrible hangover of deep loss. At the airport, Metro stations, railway stations and public places, people wore sad looks, especially the few who still had the India jersey, ‘Kohli’ or ‘Rohit’ at the back, on.
The possibility of defeat, at the greatest coliseum of cricket in India’s new first city of the sport, never seemed to have occurred to the most diehard of fans. “This time, it was both heart and head that said that India would win,” said a mournful Bhavesh, who had driven down from Mumbai for the game. “We won all the group games convincingly, and put up a massive score in the semifinal. All the players were in form — the batting charts had Rohit (Sharma) at the top, the bowling charts had (Mohammed) Shami at the top. There were over a lakh of Indian supporters at the ground last night, and they all expected India to win. How could it go wrong?” He and his friends would have time to ponder over this mystery on the drive back to Mumbai.
Friends argued among themselves over the ‘mistakes’ India made. Some blamed them for succumbing to pressure, for the expectations were sky-high and the packed massive stadium demanding the team to win. “Their body language was so poor,” said Vrinda, an advertising professional based in Mumbai. “The Australians seemed so sure about themselves. The Indians seemed timid, they just didn’t have the right attitude.”
She also made pointed reference to the advertising campaigns top stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit and KL Rahul shot for in the weeks leading to the World Cup. “How much money do they need?” she asked. But Kohli and the others did make all those runs, and India did win 10 games in a row, despite the ads! “Yes, but in the big game, it was obvious they were not up for the challenge,” she responded.
She’s particularly upset because a couple of business meetings she had lined up have been cancelled because many of those supposed to be part of them are in a “bad mood”.
Rahul drew a lot of anger and criticism, despite being a half-centurion in the final, for his slow batting. “It would have made sense for him to go for some shots after settling down,” said Mayank Sharma, a college student. He said India finally missed the all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who had to leave the squad after injuring himself in the league match against Bangladesh.
“The pressure became so big on India because the lower order does not have the ability to bat,” he said. “Kuldeep (Yadav), (Jasprit) Bumrah, (Mohammed) Siraj and Shami can’t score quick runs against this Australian team. But still, Rahul should have been more attacking. Also, this was the time for Suryakumar (Yadav) to live up to the hype.”
Rahul hit only one of the 107 balls he faced for a four, and Suryakumar made 18 off 28, and also hit one four.
Fans were angered by a photograph that Pat Cummins shared on social media — it showed Mitch Marsh sitting on a sofa, his feet resting on the World Cup trophy. “So much disrespect to the trophy!” Mayank said.
It’s a dry state, but drinks can be bought with a special permit, especially by foreigners. There was no champagne sprayed madly at the ground or the dressing room, but Cummins and his men were able to celebrate in true Aussie style — in the photograph with his feet on the trophy, Marsh did have a beer in his right hand. At least some people woke up with a hangover of euphoria in the city today.
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