India take on Sri Lanka today in the semi final of the ICC Champions’ Trophy 2013 and anyone who has followed Indian cricket for quite a while would be able to notice the parallels between that Indian team of the year 2000 and the one which is representing the country in the present tournament. It’s almost 13 years since that young team under Sourav Ganguly went to Kenya to take on the world and any cricket fan would be both happy and sad at the analogies between these 2 teams.
The Shadow of Match Fixing
The year of 2000 is still regarded as a watershed year in the history of corruption and malpractices in the game and just like in 2000, the focal point of the saga lies in India. Although the scale of the corruption that was unearthed in 2000 was much bigger, it goes without saying that the shadow of gloom that had engulfed Indian cricket in 2000 could be comparable to the one that has engulfed it in 2013. It was perhaps the worst possible time for Indian cricket when a former captain and vice captain (Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja respectively) were both handed life bans for their involvement in match fixing. The team used to be under constant scrutiny but out of nowhere they pulled together and produced magnificent performances one after another in the ICC Knockout Tournament in Nairobi. In the same way, the present Indian team is coming off a turbulent period in Indian cricket when the some of the most powerful men in Indian cricket have been found to be involved in match fixing. As a matter of fact, even the captain is not beyond suspicion due to his close involvement with Indian Cements. However, India’s performances in the tournament so far has been dominant, heartening and has put the smile back on the faces of cricket fans who were sceptical about cricket’s integrity at large when the tournament started.
ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – The Players Inspire Hope
The team that beat Australia and South Africa in famous wins in Nairobi in 2000 included an 18 year old Yuvraj Singh and a 20 year old Zaheer Khan who gave the team an X factor which was sorely missing from the Indian team for some time. Now, this particular Indian team were not exactly in dire straits when the tournament started but there were retirements across the board and the bickering among the captain and the two openers (Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag) did not do the team any good. To be very honest, Indian cricket was at an uncertain point. The emergence of Shikhar Dhawan as a power hitting opener, the re-emergence of Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma inspires hope that this team will be able to spark a renaissance of sorts that was sparked by the Indian side that went to Nairobi in 2000.
On a side note, the 2000 tournament ended in the same way as any tragic story as India lost to New Zealand in the final after crushing South Africa in the semi final. I will be hoping this team buries the ghosts of that day in Nairobi in October, 2000 and goes all the way. They quite honestly deserve it.
Image Source : IANS