"Glorified prostitution of the game" was just one of the many denouements I heard when the T-20 World Cup was about to begin. People said that the ICC was trying too hard to take the game to the US and this was purely a way to cater to the notoriously short attention spans of the Americans. And regarding the Indian team, it was supposedly a joke being played on the Indian populace...a team without any of the stalwarts full of green horns was never expected to win any matches at all.
Today, the final of the tournament is going to be played between two teams whose games put the legendary England - Australia rivalry to shame. The English - OZ rivalry has long been reduced to a joke thanks to Australia's domination - except for the Ashes series that England won a couple years ago, the other matches have been such non-contests that they are almost a yawn. India - Pakistan, on the other hand, is a rivalry that will never lose its sheen. Both teams are known for their legendary inconsistency, their eternal process of rebuilding, their internal squabbles due to which they never really reach their true potential. And the enmity between the countries (which is all hogwash going by the last time India went there) adds so much spice to the proceedings that the match becomes something much more than just a match. It is a fight to finish with the winner also winning the hearts of millions and the loser inviting the wrath of millions. That personal angle adds so much to this clash that today's match that it will set pulses racing and adrenaline throbbing through out the world.
That apart, this tournament has well and truly brought alive the age old adage that Cricket is the Great Leveller. The long drawn out and boring ICC WorldCup served to show that in the effort to spread the game far and wide, the ICC had brought in too many rookies and stretched the tournament to 51 games, even the most hardcore enthusiast of the game would lose interest over that long a period. T-20 on the other hand offers us a fresh perspective...the action is fast and furious, the game is over before an innings can end in a one day game. Inspite of the bowlers having a very important role to play and all that in the game,cricket, in the end is a batsman's game. Anyday, big powerful hitting, a century from their star player, this is what captures the imagination of the paying spectators. T-20 showcases some displays of unbridled aggression is the impression I was under, but the Indian team has shown over the course of the tournament that it is not all about brute force. The way India has worked to preserve wickets in the first 10-12 overs followed by some frenzied hitting in the final overs has proved to be its biggest advantage.
The margin of error in this format of game is extremely small, there is just not time for rebuilding. This is where India will have to score today...the smallest of errors - one big over, one dropped catch, one wicket thrown away to a moment of recklessness, any of these can prove fatal. So, Chak De! India, one more time. Just like the ad before the campaign went - WORLD CUP ABHI MANGTA HAI!!!