Himanshu Dubey

JPN: If there is one dish on cricketing platter, which has always upset Team India’s tummy, is their going into any tournament as hot favorites to clinch the title and interestingly they never have been able to transcribe extraordinary expectations into extraordinary play.

When there was so much of buzz and chat around the sporting galleries about India being the best side, prior to the World Cup and the fact they are in with a good chance to win the coveted World Cup, I believed the tale won’t be as easy as it appears.

I was not at all apprehensive about the tenor of the claims and the sky-high expectations of an India win but what actually made me skeptical was ‘are we eyeing on Team India again?’

If history is any guide, Team India’s performance, after earning favorites label, has been horrendous. They raise the bar only when they have nothing to lose and have their back to the walls. Somehow, confidence boosting tags does not go down well with their digestive system and only springs more pressure and burden onto the Indians.

You don’t have to rewind time back to Mughal era to discern Team India’s dreadful pattern. In the Caribbean, during last WC, Rahul Dravid led one of the strongest Indian outfits in the history. Cricketing pundits showered all their praise in favour of them and the hype created around ‘Men in blue’ only pulled them down the ladder.

They lost to Bangladesh and then followed it up with another heartrending defeat at the hands of Lankans, as the billions fans at home only sobbed further by looking at a gloomy appearing Indian balcony.

India somehow manages to lose advantage and drive itself to situations where one loss might flush them out of the contention- a special talent to have.

A young, less known side won the inaugural T20 World Cup, where they had nothing to lose. No pressure, no fear, no added burdens. Every game MS Dhoni led his side to the pitch as if they have come to have fun and few days later, their fearless play crowned them world champions.

The moment they won it, India erupted with joy and displayed raw emotions for their heroes. Result? India were picked to be the front-runners to win the championship again. They had given two shots at that, both off target, ‘favorites’ knocked down early.

So, as the history suggests, India’s WC campaign, this time around, has been going by the preset pattern-well below what was expected out of them.

They have not beaten any of the formidable sides in the group while their win against the minnows were as unconvincing as Sehwag’s patience.

Now, when the road to next level of the tourney is not studded with roses, Team India will switch on the best in them and you never know this best might prove too hot for the opposition to handle.