My dear men in blue,
First things first - Thank you!
It has been a sheer pleasure ‘following’ you throughout this 2019 world cup. Even though many of us could not be in England physically, our thoughts, prayers and emotions were with you every day and every minute in your journey. I shall leave the more technical analyses of your performance to the cricket pundits. I will, in this letter, just tell you what I took away from this experience.
What stands even taller than some of your run rates is the way you continually looked like one tightly-knit unit. When MS Dhoni dove to his right to take a sharp catch, Yuzvendra Chahal bowed to him in a gesture that at once suggested respect and unfettered joy at an ageing master throwing up a pleasant surprise. I will remember Hardik Pandya winking at a teammate after scalping a wicket with his patented slow bouncer – the smile reached his eyes quicker than Jasprit Bumrah’s yorker usually reached the stumps. Isn’t that a sign of genuineness? Trust me when I say that those smiles were infectious.
Team pic taken from Virat Kohli's tweet:
Every time a tough question or two was thrown at the
captain leader Virat Kohli about a team mate’s purported
error, what we heard was not apportioning of blame. Instead, what he offered was a measured
response that addressed the issue without attacking the person. Excuses were not given for errors of judgment. Rather, human fallibility was acknowledged as
a part of professional sport in the most mature manner possible. In short, this may be a relatively young side
but as a team, you exhibited an enviable mix of youthful exuberance, energy,
playfulness yet never losing focus on your goals as a team or missing an
opportunity to be guided by the more senior players in the team. When confidence mixes with humility, the
resultant cocktail is not intoxicating in a trippy way but rather, invigorating
in a balanced manner.
I was certainly worried when you lost the monstrously dangerous Shikhar Dhawan early on to injury. But you somehow coped, managing replacements without being rigid. You, of course, know that the middle order frailties will have to be addressed swiftly. But I must say that up until today, the spectacular top order ensured that – this car analogy will make Dhoni happy, I hope! – you raced off the blocks with controlled acceleration, knowing when exactly to press the brakes so as to retain control. Alas when the top order crashed into the brick walls erected by New Zealand’s nifty bowlers and fielders, the damage was nearly irreversible.
The fact that Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni showed such indomitable spirit and fought until the very end is something that budding professionals like me will take to our own work lives. As your friend Harsha Bhogle thoughtfully stated once, the trifecta of “ability, attitude and passion” are the key ingredients of success. We weren’t successful today – I say “we” because feel like I should partake in failure as much as we derive surrogate happiness from your successes. But the spirit, the intent and the willingness to try your best to succeed was a ‘success’ in itself. Just that in the group phase, this spirit resulted in victories. But today that was not to be.
I know that you must all be deeply disappointed that you will not be playing in the finals at Lord’s. That is okay. This is not the last tournament that will be staged by the ICC. The “attitude” and “passion” that you all have aplenty will ensure that in due course that your “ability” will fetch commensurate results quicker than you think is feasible. For now, please remember my idol Randy Pausch’s words – experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.
Over the last few weeks, you have given us immense happiness by representing the nation the way you did. It is time for us to meaningfully express gratitude and reciprocation by being there for you during this hour of sadness. You have our unqualified support as you learn from this experience and continue to take Indian cricket to stratospheric heights. May tomorrow be a brighter day. For now, safe travels. Rest up and recharge. We will back with you before you know it.
With much love, gratitude and respect,