The 20-20 World Cup is over and against all odds, India actually pulled off an amazing victory. The triumph was well deserved and we beat all the teams in the competition to emerge victorious. This is something that Dhoni and the boys can be clearly proud of; after all, 20-20 or 50-50, a World Cup is a World Cup.
There have been many cynics of this format (me included). My father used to call it the Gilli Danda version of cricket and we both cursed the administrators for coming up with another slam bang idea. But far from being a slogger's game, the game has actually shown bowlers in better light.
After all, victories were pulled off by teams due to the bowling prowess of Umar Gul, R P Singh, Clarke and the rest, dispelling all the notions of this being a Batsman's game. Even, somebody like Afridi did so much more with the ball than the bat!!!!
There is no doubt that cricket won more than anything else. Spectator patience is low and producing a result in three hours is definitely a great USP for the format. The game is not very different from the regular ODI format, except for the free hit rule, possibly.
Nor are the boundaries any shorter, as it was assumed it might be before the tournament began. The only thing that has actually changed is the ability to take risk, which increases dramatically in this version.
The 20-20 version has seen the most accurate bowling in recent times and yorkers being bowled regularly (Recollect the number of batsmen bowled in the tournament). It requires greater accuracy from the bowlers and many of them have shown the ability to deliver.
The overall strategy has not changed much; the Indian strategy remained keeping wickets within the first 5-6 overs and slogging at the end. The best team still won the tournament and it did not result in any bunny cricket.
Will this affect the other forms of the game? I don't think so. A three hour format is a greater threat to movies than to the one day form. Test cricket has a niche audience and they will not be weaned away by this. One day cricket is exciting and still remains a sponsor's dream, with the large number of advertising spots available.
What this could do is to increase the chances that cricketers get to play the game. How about 3 different sets of teams now? There have been other experiments with the game like double wicket which have faded but 20-20 is clearly to stay, primarily because it does not interfere with the actual fabric of the game.
The one day format when introduced in the early 70s was scoffed at but it has survived all the criticism. Gavaskar may have scored 36* in 60 overs but just before retiring he scored one the fastest hundreds in the World Cup (of 82 balls, a far cry from Afridi's record of 37 balls,of course). Even, the traditionalists can come around if the game provides all the thrills which seems to be the case, as initial evidence shows.
Yes, we have won and the country is celebrating - well almost, except for the hockey team. The BCCI can provide $3 million to the cricketers but should the state generously award these cricketers from the money we pay in taxes. With the funds there in the game and outside it, does it actually have to splurge it on cricketers?
No wonder the hockey team is upset to receive this form of state sponsored neglect. Also upset are the people who were stuck in the traffic jam on Thursday because the team was dancing its way to glory!!!
One thought on the finals - Shoaib Malik's comments during the awards ceremony was in bad taste. I don't believe he actually said - Sorry to all Pakistanis and Muslims in the world for losing the match. I did not realise even the current Pakistani generation is so short-sighted, considering the team as a representative of Muslims worldwide.
So what should Irfan Pathan have said when he won the Man of the Match - I am thankful to all Indian Muslims for supporting me??? That one second, I felt so glad that we remain Indians at heart and that victory for Dhoni is not a Hindu victory, whatever Malik may think...
We have a tough Australian series coming up and I hope the audience and the media support them just as they did now. It does not take much of an effort for a fickle audience to change its feelings; Dhoni would do well to recollect that his house was stoned and effigy was burnt when we crashed out the 50-50 World Cup.....