Twenty20 or Fifty50: take your pick…
The similarities surrounding the one-day series that commences today in Bangalore and the one that followed the 1983 World Cup are too obvious to overlook easily.
India was on a high in 1983 following victory in the World Cup. The nation is once again high now following victory in the Twenty20 World Championship.
But post-1983 World Cup was dark, despairing and a definite ‘downer’. Craving for blood and breathing fire, the West Indies beat India 5-0 in an abjectly one-sided series, and India fell from the pinnacle to the pits with a resounding thud.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who bowled that dream ball to knock out Greenidge’s off stump in the 1983 World Cup final, was treated so shabbily by the West Indian batsmen that he resorted to bowling off spin in an attempt to escape further humiliation.
That in a nutshell summed up India’s total surrender in 1983.
The Australians are in a similar mood today and have already vowed to make amends for their poor performance in the Twenty20 World Championship. Having lost to Zimbabwe, Pakistan and India, the Aussies will be like wounded tigers looking to restore pride.
On the other hand, India, with back-to-back victories over South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, are at the top of the world, and at least in eyes of their fans almost invincible if not infallible.
The prospects of a mouth-watering series are therefore infinite.
The Aussies have already fired the first salvo on the mental front at least, but, I suspect, the Indians this time have enough verbal ammunition to hit back in style, not to speak of a reservoir of physical strengh if it comes down to intimidation on the field.
“India’s victory in the Twenty20 is history now,” said Aussie captain Ricky Ponting soon after landing in Bangalore. “If our Twenty20 victory is history, Australia’s World Cup victory in the Caribbean is ancient history,” was Robin Uthappa’s fitting riposte.
We certainly have more than a match on our hands. So, time to put on the seat belts, I guess.
Another interesting aspect to look forward to in this series is how one-day cricket matches up up to its younger and shorter sibling which is already a big hit.
We have already seen what one-day cricket did to Test cricket in the 80s and 90s. Now it’s time to see how Fifty50 would stand up to Twenty20 which is already a hit even before all Test playing nations have taken it seriously.
Some are saying Twenty20 is similar to reducing baseball from nine innings to three, others feel it is like cutting a NBA match from four quarters to one. To one ardent cricket lover, it is like watching a one-day match with all the boring parts edited.
Come to think of it, the shorter version of cricket already has two World Cups (Ok, one World Cup and one World Championship) less than 40 years since it was first officially played.
By contrast, many other sports got its World Cups much later, soccer or rugby union for instance.
But rarely have so many World Cups been played simultaneously with the women’s soccer World Cup, rugby union World Cup, Davis Cup and, of course, the Twenty20 World Championship all jostling for prime time space.
Thankfully, Test cricket has no World Cup yet!