February 6, 2011

It all began in South Africa

Indian cricket's most successful era was ushered in at the 2003 World Cup, with some effigy-burning, banana-barfing, and sleepless nights for Tendulkar
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For the generation of Indians to whom 1983 is a hand-me-down fairy tale, there is always 2003. Agreed it is a consolation prize, but a pretty sweet one. Sourav Ganguly's team had something.

We now regard the side and that campaign with a certain inevitability, but it wasn't like that at the time. It had been, in fact, a rather worrying lead-up to the World Cup. On the flat pitches at home, the bowlers were swatted about by the West Indians, who registered a 4-3 upset. A little later, in New Zealand, when all the help was for the bowlers, the batsmen couldn't cope. They were hammered 2-5.

When the team returned home from that series, the last one before the World Cup, the message from the Indian board was clear: instead of being sent a chauffeur-driven car, then coach John Wright recounts in his lovely memoirs, he had to queue up for a cab at the airport.

Things scarcely got better on reaching South Africa. They had a long camp, but in the warm-up they couldn't last 50 overs against the third XI of KwaZulu Natal. They lost the game. Their tournament opener was against the Netherlands. They won, but still couldn't last 50 overs. In their first serious match, the Australian bowlers shot them out for 125 and won with 28 overs to spare.

By now, a great anger had spread among fans back home - those were also angrier years. Apart from the formality of effigies, Mohammad Kaif's house was vandalised, as was Rahul Dravid's car. It fell to Sachin Tendulkar to issue a press statement calling for calm and patience, just as he was sent those days to placate the rogue sections when there was crowd trouble at stadiums.

This was the background to India's World Cup campaign of 2003, which in effect began in Harare against Zimbabwe with Tendulkar's statement. He also made one with the bat, making 81. And Ganguly, fuelled by that familiar combination of competitiveness and destiny, took three wickets with his first 15 balls to seal the match. Against Namibia a few days later, both of them scored large centuries en route to a thumping victory.

I remember watching this game at the airport in Mumbai. An emergency separation from my appendix had delayed my departure for South Africa. Watching this old pair was reassuring for another reason. Ganguly had dropped himself down to No. 3, from where he would score three centuries in the tournament (all, however, against the "minnows"), but the demotion was more relevant because of Tendulkar's ascension to the opening slot. Tendulkar batting at the spot of his choice is the best tonic for the Indian one-day team - a lesson that Greg Chappell and Dravid failed to learn for the 2007 World Cup.

Durban, where I landed, was base camp for the Indian team, an appropriate one, for as in Trinidad and Guyana, there is plenty of TLC from the local Indian community for the cricketers. Between the South African Indians, the NRI travellers from the US and the UK, and the increasing number of tourists from India, there was enough to match the traditionally huge contingent of English supporters at Kingsmead. Every Barmy Army chant was countered by the British Bharat Army.

India batted first. This was key because, unlike in the subcontinent, where spinners find it impossible to grip the ball, in South Africa the seamers are able to zing it off an evening pitch. In these conditions India found their new hero Ashish Nehra, whose spell of 6 for 23, straight, swift, slippery, against England, was so memorable that he would name his dog Durban. His more immediate celebration was to barf a banana on the boundary after bowling 10 on the trot.

This was the win, I think, that turned it around. As the electric evening progressed, you could watch the confidence, battered for the last so many months, visibly restore. India needed it because it was close to the 1st of March: Pakistan in Centurion.

This was before the resumption of bilateral cricket. It had been three years since the last encounter. "For one year people have been coming up to me and saying, 'You're playing Pakistan on March 1st'," Tendulkar would say. He did not sleep for 12 nights leading up to the match.

What an innings he played. The signs had all been there. Beyond runs, against England, he'd shown his highest form. He'd sent one pull off Andy Caddick over the stands and on to the road. Now against Pakistan he confronted not just the moment that had given him sleepless nights, but also a tall total, and Shoaib Akhtar, who in this competition had bowled the fastest ball ever recorded.

Success brings feel-good stories, and the media devoted themselves to these. Apparently the team had two bowling captains (Kumble and Srinath), two fielding captains (Kaif and Yuvraj) and two batting captains (Tendulkar and Dravid), and we wrote about this

There isn't much left to say about the three strokes against Shoaib, but why not give it a go? The iconic six came first, a short and wide delivery that, out of nothing but adrenalin, Tendulkar almost jumped sideways at, to tipple it high over wide third man. The next one, a rapid delivery on middle stump, he countered with a whirlpool swirl, sucking it off its line to a perpendicular boundary. The third was sculpture: He met the ball and blocked it; that's all, held the follow-through a split second as it raced down the pitch with Shoaib in the dramatic flow of his follow-through, the flags flying, the horns blowing, the roars roaring.

By the time Shoaib had got his own back, with a superb delivery that exploded onto Tendulkar's ribs, he had hit 98 from 75. Amid a noise shocking for an open ground of only 20,000, Dravid and Yuvraj Singh saw the chase through.

It was a massive release. Songs resounded around the stadium. In the dressing room, the players, unusually, permitted themselves beers, thereafter placing the cans on the floor, naming them for former-players-turned television critics, and crushing them underfoot. For the tournament, India had enlisted sports psychologist Sandy Gordon. One of the things Gordon told them, Wright recalls, is that great teams moved into a "f**k-you mode" during competition. I suppose can-stamping came with it. Not exquisite manners, but then for its entire existence Indian cricket had been criticised for too much manners and too little fire.

The release was also for the ending of the group stage. They had sailed into the Super Six. The harder part began now; but they had a few days to cool off.

I went via several buses to Kimberley, an Afrikaans-speaking diamond town in the heart of the country, to watch West Indies beat Kenya in a small ground on a picnic day before a crowd of schoolchildren. As World Cups are, it was a tournament of contrasts, small teams and small venues as much a part of it as the epic match-ups in storied stadiums. At dawn I bummed a ride with the South African journalist Craig Ray across the Great Karoo, shimmering with its bare, dry heat, and by sundown we were on the Western Cape - Cape Town with its table mountains, its leaves, its blue ocean and its suggestion of hedonism.

At the gorgeous Newlands, India breezed past Kenya.

The action moved back to the east. Here, in successive games they thumped Sri Lanka and then New Zealand.

A lot of little pieces were falling into place now. Tendulkar apart, Virender Sehwag, Kaif, Dravid and Yuvraj had all played decisive innings. More crucial was the hot streak of the seamers. Following Nehra's 6 for 23, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan had decimated the Lankan and New Zealand top orders. Just as Kapil Dev's quartet of swingers were ideal for English conditions, so India's hit-the-deck seamers proved to be right for South Africa. Between them the trio took 49 wickets for 21.

They were fielding well. They were looking fit. There had been no major injuries for a while now. Two years before, Wright, on a beach run with the team in Durban, had remembered beating most of the players: this time he came last. The pair of physio Andrew Leipus and trainer Adrian le Roux is still considered the best the Indians ever had. A young biomechanist, Shyamal Vallabhjee of Durban, was so appreciated by the team that they chipped in for his accommodation through the tournament.

Success brings feel-good stories, and the media devoted themselves to these. Apparently the team had two bowling captains (Kumble and Srinath), two fielding captains (Kaif and Yuvraj) and two batting captains (Tendulkar and Dravid), and we wrote about this. We wrote about the vital bonding routine that comprised bowlers-versus-batsmen volleyball matches; and the no-less vital bonding routine that was "the huddle".

Fortune seemed to favour India as well. Thanks to a forfeit and two upsets, their opponents in the semi-final were Kenya. Again bowling second under lights in Durban, they romped home.

After a dismal beginning, thus India had lined up eight wins on the trot. Having toppled Steve Waugh's Final Frontiersmen two years previously, Ganguly's side had the reputation to unnerve the Aussies. Now they also had momentum.

It was a dark, dank morning in Johannesburg. The final was hours away. From the hotel gardens, television correspondents provided live weather updates to an anxious and expectant nation. Already, because of the drizzle, all the talk among journalists was about the toss. Ganguly won it. He inserted Australia. What! Did he expect India to chase to win a World Cup final?

Looking at it from a cool distance, it perhaps wasn't all that unjustifiable. It was cloudy, after all; and the seamers were indeed in form. Having batted first against Australia earlier in the tournament had backfired. Even so: did he expect India to chase to win a World Cup final?

There was plenty of talk about team composition too. Shouldn't he have picked two spinners? Spin was the only way; what was Kumble doing on the bench with an extra batsman in the XI? Yet seven batsmen worked well for India. It's just that we had the wrong one. We didn't need Dinesh Mongia. We needed the man they call very, very special, the man who with gentle wrists dissects Australia to expiration. But Laxman was home, never ever to make it to a World Cup squad.

All this is mere talk, the kind that makes cricket go round. The truth was this: India were spiritedly, infectiously good. Australia were bloody great. Adam Gilchrist's opening salvo was a slap. Damien Martyn was a tease. Ricky Ponting was in his pomp. He hit eight sixes. One of those was issued one-handed. Zaheer Khan's over-aggression backfired; Srinath was violated to the tune of 87 runs. Forget Laxman; Jessop, Bradman and Richards would not have chased down 359 against McGrath and Lee.

Amid purple lightning and billowing trees, Ponting's Australians celebrated their utter supremacy. Ganguly's team was done for the day. Expat Indians raged and abused. The cricketers quietly boarded the bus and went home. They weren't, like the boys of 1983, world champions. They did not have the mercurial genius of Imran Khan's side of 1992, nor the pathbreaking ebullience of Arjuna Ranatunga's 1996 winners. Yet they heralded a new age in Indian cricket, its most successful ever, and they were a pleasure to watch. In the event that the batch of 2011 manages to go one better than them, we might do well to remember from where it started.

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket tour book Pundits from Pakistan and the novel The Sly Company of People Who Care

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    Bravo! Kudos to bhattacharya who continues to keep his readers breathless with his unmatched grace and awe-inspiring panache.This is best article written in tribute to ganguly's era and it certainly reminds us how the bengal tiger literally created a team of champions to turn around the fortunes of indian cricket.Like he rightly quotes it all actually started at the world cup in 2003,and since then we've seen some amazing wins and splendid performances in indian cricket.Cheers to rahul bhattacharya! Cheers to indian cricket!

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    The match was lost in the first over of each innings. When Australia were batting Zaheer leaked 15 runs in the first over with out any effort by the Australians. Sachin wanted to finish the match in the first over when we started the chase.

    We never really recovered after the 1st over of each innings.

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    Yes, excellent article! I like the fact, that you recognize Zaheer Khan's over-aggression cost India very early the match! Don't know why he is the best bowler in the country??? I am sure there are many others!!

    Come on SELECTORS - do your job, for what you are paid for! After 8 years, we still have Zaheer Khan as the spear-head .. it's lousy .. will be surprised if India gets back the QF or the SF at the most! Tendulkar can continue dreaming. Zaheer can continue to think he is the best, when he is the worst of the Int'l lot!

  • POSTED BY kr_kinshuk on | February 9, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    a little after that '03 world cup final south africa chased down 434 successfully on that same ground... i wonder if it was really the bowling that failed that day!!!! "maybe" the pitch was really flat, and the batsmen should have put up a better show......

  • POSTED BY Umamahesh_Srigiriraju on | February 9, 2011, 14:56 GMT

    It all began in South Africa? I would agree if the author was trying to talk about India's Freedom Movement. As far as ODI Cricket is concerned, it all started with Kapil Dev in Turnbridge Wells. Nothing comes close to it. Sachin this, Rahul that, Ganguly this and Nehra that and all.....Enough read, heard and said. India beat The Mighty West Indies in 1983 (twice) whereas the 2003 Indian Team lost miserably to a team who are just as or slightly stronger than the Indian Team. So, I disagree completely with the author. If India wins World Cup 2011, let us not delude ourselves that it all started in 2003.We were thrashed in the most comprehensive manner of any World Cup final in the history of the game, if I'm not wrong. So, let us give credit to this team if they achieve something instead of forming loose associations with the losing team of 2003. If the 1983 team doesn't make us believe and inspire, then I don't know what would. Nuff said.

  • POSTED BY S.N.Singh on | February 9, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    INDIAN BATTING FOR THE WORLD CUP DEPENDS ON TENDULKAR ALSO KHOLI AND DHONI. THESE WILL STAY TO FORM PARTNERSHIP WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT IN ODI CRICKET. SEHWAG IS HIS USUAL PERSON. HE DEMORALOZED A SIDE BY HITTING AND STAYING. YOU HAVE RINA AND YUVRAJ TO MAKE GOOD OF THE DAY PLUS PATHAN IF REQIURED. THE PRONLEM IS INDIA BOWLING. NO AMOUNT OF RUNS FOR INDIA IS SAFE. EVEN IF INDIA MAKE 400 RUNS. THEY HAVE TO KEEP THEIR FINGER CROSS. TENDULKAR WILL HAVE TO BE THE PERSON HE IS, STAY THERE AND THE RUNS WILL COME, PROBABLE ANOTHER DOUBLE. I HAVE MY CONFIDENT IN TENDULKAR BUT NONE ON THE BOWLERS. WE MIGHT HAVE TO GO WITH HARBHAGAN AND ASHWIN AND TWO MEDIUM PACERS. THEY NEED HAVE FOUR SPECIALIST BOWLERS PLUS PARTIMERS, YUVRAJ, AND SEHWAG ASHWIN. THE CAN NOT UNDERRATE ANY OF THE TEAM. S N SINGH USA

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    KiwiRocker Tendulkar won India big matches in the 90's infact he got 67 runs in 96 semifinal vs sri before a collapse . media and people like you only noticed his failures from 2002-2007 which is a shame.he averages 55 in finals,Ponting (except 2003 wc final), Inzamam,Dravid have been failures in that respect.Ponting had a 100run opening partnership only Harby troubled him in that final.

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    Rahul is known for writing very ration and sensible pieces but over here he seems to have fallen to the media hype himself. I am still at a loss to understand what actually began in 2003 ? Since it was ODI tournament i will restrict myself to only ODIs and frankly speaking india's ODI record after that remains average. They did not even qualify for the second stage in WC 2007. A simple comparison with Pakistan would illustrate that point. The same period has been without any debate the worst for Pakistani Cricket team. However, the paki cricket team's W/L ratio is almost the same as India's i.e. 1.2 over the 2003-2011 period. Not only this, but during this period both teams played 33 ODIs with each other. Pakistan won 17 and India 16. So if Rahul thinks this is the golden period of Indian ODI cricket, hats off to him for having a positive frame of mind.

  • POSTED BY arunapuram on | February 9, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    @kiwi: no team can win a world cup with one man...India s no exception..sachin alone cant win the world cup for us...the names u mentioned pontings, jayasuryas, inzamams etc they played major parts but it was oly cos of the contribution of whole team that they won..examples r in 2003 sus had symonds, brett lee , andy bichel who did well in different matches to get them through..srilanka had de silva, ranatunga himself to do that, pakistan had akram, miandad and imran along with inzi to do that....but for india no one did stood up during that big occasion ..even in 96 cup semis as tendulkar got out it was a collapse..2003 too except for sehwag's brilliance no one showed any signs of resistance against the aus attack..not oly in the final but also during the league stages..

  • POSTED BY Rahul_crick_talk on | February 9, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    KiwiRocker, you truly are a trash talker. If Sehwag, Yuvraj, Tendulkar, Gambhir, and Dhoni form an average batting order, then Pakistan's batting order are not even school boy cricketers. Let's just wait and see how much 'impact' Afridi and Razzaq actually have.

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    Bravo! Kudos to bhattacharya who continues to keep his readers breathless with his unmatched grace and awe-inspiring panache.This is best article written in tribute to ganguly's era and it certainly reminds us how the bengal tiger literally created a team of champions to turn around the fortunes of indian cricket.Like he rightly quotes it all actually started at the world cup in 2003,and since then we've seen some amazing wins and splendid performances in indian cricket.Cheers to rahul bhattacharya! Cheers to indian cricket!

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    The match was lost in the first over of each innings. When Australia were batting Zaheer leaked 15 runs in the first over with out any effort by the Australians. Sachin wanted to finish the match in the first over when we started the chase.

    We never really recovered after the 1st over of each innings.

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    Yes, excellent article! I like the fact, that you recognize Zaheer Khan's over-aggression cost India very early the match! Don't know why he is the best bowler in the country??? I am sure there are many others!!

    Come on SELECTORS - do your job, for what you are paid for! After 8 years, we still have Zaheer Khan as the spear-head .. it's lousy .. will be surprised if India gets back the QF or the SF at the most! Tendulkar can continue dreaming. Zaheer can continue to think he is the best, when he is the worst of the Int'l lot!

  • POSTED BY kr_kinshuk on | February 9, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    a little after that '03 world cup final south africa chased down 434 successfully on that same ground... i wonder if it was really the bowling that failed that day!!!! "maybe" the pitch was really flat, and the batsmen should have put up a better show......

  • POSTED BY Umamahesh_Srigiriraju on | February 9, 2011, 14:56 GMT

    It all began in South Africa? I would agree if the author was trying to talk about India's Freedom Movement. As far as ODI Cricket is concerned, it all started with Kapil Dev in Turnbridge Wells. Nothing comes close to it. Sachin this, Rahul that, Ganguly this and Nehra that and all.....Enough read, heard and said. India beat The Mighty West Indies in 1983 (twice) whereas the 2003 Indian Team lost miserably to a team who are just as or slightly stronger than the Indian Team. So, I disagree completely with the author. If India wins World Cup 2011, let us not delude ourselves that it all started in 2003.We were thrashed in the most comprehensive manner of any World Cup final in the history of the game, if I'm not wrong. So, let us give credit to this team if they achieve something instead of forming loose associations with the losing team of 2003. If the 1983 team doesn't make us believe and inspire, then I don't know what would. Nuff said.

  • POSTED BY S.N.Singh on | February 9, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    INDIAN BATTING FOR THE WORLD CUP DEPENDS ON TENDULKAR ALSO KHOLI AND DHONI. THESE WILL STAY TO FORM PARTNERSHIP WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT IN ODI CRICKET. SEHWAG IS HIS USUAL PERSON. HE DEMORALOZED A SIDE BY HITTING AND STAYING. YOU HAVE RINA AND YUVRAJ TO MAKE GOOD OF THE DAY PLUS PATHAN IF REQIURED. THE PRONLEM IS INDIA BOWLING. NO AMOUNT OF RUNS FOR INDIA IS SAFE. EVEN IF INDIA MAKE 400 RUNS. THEY HAVE TO KEEP THEIR FINGER CROSS. TENDULKAR WILL HAVE TO BE THE PERSON HE IS, STAY THERE AND THE RUNS WILL COME, PROBABLE ANOTHER DOUBLE. I HAVE MY CONFIDENT IN TENDULKAR BUT NONE ON THE BOWLERS. WE MIGHT HAVE TO GO WITH HARBHAGAN AND ASHWIN AND TWO MEDIUM PACERS. THEY NEED HAVE FOUR SPECIALIST BOWLERS PLUS PARTIMERS, YUVRAJ, AND SEHWAG ASHWIN. THE CAN NOT UNDERRATE ANY OF THE TEAM. S N SINGH USA

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    KiwiRocker Tendulkar won India big matches in the 90's infact he got 67 runs in 96 semifinal vs sri before a collapse . media and people like you only noticed his failures from 2002-2007 which is a shame.he averages 55 in finals,Ponting (except 2003 wc final), Inzamam,Dravid have been failures in that respect.Ponting had a 100run opening partnership only Harby troubled him in that final.

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    Rahul is known for writing very ration and sensible pieces but over here he seems to have fallen to the media hype himself. I am still at a loss to understand what actually began in 2003 ? Since it was ODI tournament i will restrict myself to only ODIs and frankly speaking india's ODI record after that remains average. They did not even qualify for the second stage in WC 2007. A simple comparison with Pakistan would illustrate that point. The same period has been without any debate the worst for Pakistani Cricket team. However, the paki cricket team's W/L ratio is almost the same as India's i.e. 1.2 over the 2003-2011 period. Not only this, but during this period both teams played 33 ODIs with each other. Pakistan won 17 and India 16. So if Rahul thinks this is the golden period of Indian ODI cricket, hats off to him for having a positive frame of mind.

  • POSTED BY arunapuram on | February 9, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    @kiwi: no team can win a world cup with one man...India s no exception..sachin alone cant win the world cup for us...the names u mentioned pontings, jayasuryas, inzamams etc they played major parts but it was oly cos of the contribution of whole team that they won..examples r in 2003 sus had symonds, brett lee , andy bichel who did well in different matches to get them through..srilanka had de silva, ranatunga himself to do that, pakistan had akram, miandad and imran along with inzi to do that....but for india no one did stood up during that big occasion ..even in 96 cup semis as tendulkar got out it was a collapse..2003 too except for sehwag's brilliance no one showed any signs of resistance against the aus attack..not oly in the final but also during the league stages..

  • POSTED BY Rahul_crick_talk on | February 9, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    KiwiRocker, you truly are a trash talker. If Sehwag, Yuvraj, Tendulkar, Gambhir, and Dhoni form an average batting order, then Pakistan's batting order are not even school boy cricketers. Let's just wait and see how much 'impact' Afridi and Razzaq actually have.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | February 9, 2011, 9:30 GMT

    I always have been fan of Rahul B.Such kind of journalism creates unnecessary hype. Everyone knows that history means nothing. Respectfully, India has been an average team in the recent years away from home. India lost last series in Pakistan (2006), India barely drew series in SA and SL.India was given a lesson in recent ODI series by SA. My comments about Tendulkar's failure in big matches are well read. Tendulkar has won no WC for India. Players such as Ponting, Inzemam, JaSuriya have done for their teams. As an objective rational observer, I see that India has an average batting with inexperienced middle order and no impact players such as Razzaq/Afridi. Yousaf Pathan is hyped around while poor man has scored only 600 runs so far. India's real worry is their fielding a very poor bowling (especially with loss of Kumar). Time for talks is over. Pressure is on India as everyone laughs at India's so called No.1 ranking in test matches.I am certain that India will be out before QF.

  • POSTED BY pradeep_dealwis on | February 9, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Can't wait till Ireland beat India on 6th March

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    First of all we should be proud on "Lalit Modi" beside his wrong(s). India now got 10 additional teams involved in search, polish and produce cricketer from grass root level. I would like to quote one of my past research "reason of WI team down fall" . It was English county cricket at that time (70's-80's) use to be the nursery for raw WI talent. Players from WI use to work (financial assurance to work hard) as groundsman etc beside practice and coaching from the couty staff. The WI selectors use to pick team on county performance. Policy changed and counties were restricted to limit number of overseas players. it was the actual start of WI team downfall. India bench strength in all departments is just because of Modi IPL.

  • POSTED BY kuwupu on | February 9, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    I was 14, however i stil exctalyl remember Sehwag's 83, run out by Dravid right after Rain. If that hasn't happed, maybe we would have pull magical win and had that WORLD CUP! so hats of to Sehwag's hope lets hope he doesn't get injured againn

  • POSTED BY on | February 9, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    brilliant article... absolutely brilliant

  • POSTED BY prashant1 on | February 9, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    Mr.Rahul Bhattacharya is plain,dead wrong. It ALL began when the one and only SACHIN TENDULKAR was born.

  • POSTED BY knowledge_eater on | February 9, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    Ohh "the huddle" was the best thing, I actually enjoyed Sachin's back-foot cover drive to Wasim at 8.1 more than that Epinephrine burst against Akhtar, I think it was 7-2 field. Also, I rate that flick toward square leg 2nd ball Akhtar burst right in the middle stump at >146 higher as well, that is hard to hit, and Sachin has been trapped playing those flicks many times. But he executed it perfectly. Credit to Akhtar that he did get him, bowling accurate lethal bouncer. That explains even though he is going for runs, he always keeps you on toe. Even defending him at that time was hard. And India did stand tall on that critical match. Because if I am not mistaking. Thanks for bringing it all back. We need same team spirit. Same huddle this time, though it is even more difficult this time around, anything can happen. We need some kind of momentum match so we at least make it to Final. Rest let the best team wins. Enjoyed the article. Peace

  • POSTED BY idiopathic_genius on | February 9, 2011, 1:16 GMT

    nicely scripted bro....i can picturize evythg..ah man...!conditions are favourable,letz just hope for the best..

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 23:49 GMT

    nice article.... let this coming 2011 world cup be more remember-able than 2003 to the people of young age of India... by India taking the cup...

  • POSTED BY Sky-Walker on | February 8, 2011, 23:28 GMT

    Hi Rahul I do not agree with your linking to the year 2003. Yes it was indeed a great run but that momentum ended in SA in 2003. Not sure what you are driving that year's great performance to make India more probable this WC. In fact it is recent series win in India against SL, Eng, SA, NZ, Aus. may be the reason everybody thinks India can win WC. However I still agree with Bedi that we have very very poor bowling attack. These days there is a race and everybody is declaring India as WC Campion without a ball being bowled. Pl. stop this hype. Every Team has a chance in India as any Tom D Harry can swing bat and score runs on pata wickets.

    I wish all the best to Indian team but fans pl. do not be frustrated if India can't make it. Pl. support the WC till end and enjoy it! (Remember last WC in WI-the commercial failure after Indian went out!) Cheers!

  • POSTED BY SRT_GENIUS on | February 8, 2011, 22:55 GMT

    I remember 2007 very well. Dravid, in-spite of being the great batsman that he is, started acting like a yes man for the superior acting Chapel. At times you feel that Indians are still not over "The Raj" mindset.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 21:55 GMT

    4 teams qualified for Super Six had their names ending with 'a' (Australia, India, Srilanka, Kenya) qualified for Semi-Finals

    4 teams qualified for Semi Finals had their names ending with 'ia' (Australia, India) qualified for Finals

    1 qualified team names ended with 'lia' (Australia) who won the Finals

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 21:51 GMT

    Thank you for reminding us of the awesome world cup campaign India had. To me, had we won the cup that would not have matter'd much (we didn't, anyways) more than we winning on our arch-rivals Pak. To me it would have been equally disappointing had we won the WC but lost to Pak. Anyways, I hope Dhoni-Kristen era goes the extra distance and secure the cup using the foundation laid by Ganguly-Wright era. GO INDIA GO!!

  • POSTED BY passionate_cricket_follower on | February 8, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    @kasyapm, Biophysicist: it was not the selectors, but the great dictator DADA himself who ruined Laxman's ODI career! Laxman, as Peter Roebock pointed out was knocking on the captaincy door. Dada wanted him out of the side henceforth. Now when Laxman gets picked, but Dada gets thrown out of IPL, he yells and claims he's better than Laxman. Its really a shame that a player like Laxman does not get to play a world cup for India, when good for nothing players like Dinesh Mongia, Sanjay Bangar are picked.

  • POSTED BY Adityak on | February 8, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    very nicely written article .. thanks for bringing back those memories Rahul !!

  • POSTED BY somu1 on | February 8, 2011, 19:35 GMT

    Awesome article...it refrshed all my memories 8 years back...Greatest world cup ever for India...

  • POSTED BY svsn2 on | February 8, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    What an article, I watched every ball of that worldcup, Reading this article I can see all that action in front of me again. Even if India wins next 5 world cups, 2003 was the greatest fight. The team was the bravest, and every member fought to the last

  • POSTED BY Harry0009 on | February 8, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    I wish only one thing. I wish this truly inspires the Team India and wish Dhoni take it forward performing beyond expectations

  • POSTED BY meeransb on | February 8, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    You probably started on a wrong note. Do not even write about 1983. It was a world cup which we won and yes, we came close in 2003. But in 2003 we lost to Australia twice, once shot out for 125 and the second time so outplayed that the match was lost in the first half and this Aussie team surely did not have bowlers of Marshall, Holding, Garner, Roberts class, but still this team of stalwarts lost badly. On top of it our semifinal was against Kenya not a worthy way to get to the final of a world cup. Since 1985 we have not done well in big tournaments, 2003 including period. Just your writing will not make an ordinary campaign great. It was not.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    2003 was magical. Zaheer actually bowled a couple of good deliveries first up to Haydo. The over aggression was unneeded - but that is what pressure does to the best of men. It was telling that no one approached the bowlers on the field to calm them down - the current team is way better on this front. Lest we forget there was some drama in the early days after the team landed in SA. There were calls made to BCCI to get Sachin re-instated at the top of the order. While Ganguly was a captain who brought much needed aggression to the team, he did not impose upon himself the same dedication he expected from his mates. Fielding was an obvious one. More devious were his insecurities as a batsman and his insistence on opening the batting even though the Sehwag/Sachin combo was our best bet going into the WC. I remember watching Sachin bat against Kwazulu Natal and could see that he was in good form even though he had just come out of a injury driven lay-off. The Shoaib over - goose bumps!

  • POSTED BY avis1001 on | February 8, 2011, 17:12 GMT

    I will never forget the match between IND vs PAK - when we got up at 3.30 midnight to see the match in lot of snow in Washington DC and our car just skid off to the side and still we managed to get it back on the road and by the time we went to University of Maryland, there were 6 big halls reserved for this match via projectors and each fits about 300 people easily and the university student org charged us $10 for the entire match and oh! when PAK score was 270 odd, we thought we lost and the pakistani spectators went berserk in between. Then came Tendulkar who changed the match and we were very vary until the end, when celebrations went so much that we had skipped our lunch and finally slept late night @2.00 pm after almost 24 hours.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    superbly written...!! each n every word written in this article is so true,that i had the whole 2003 world cup flashing infront of my eyes SAHIN'S upper cut against SHOAIB..!! that was superb...!!

  • POSTED BY vinjoy on | February 8, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    Loved the beautifullly summarised 2003 WC. However, I would have loved more balance in the appreciation showered on players as Dravid deserves more space. He hardly failed in any game against a Test Playing Nation (since Ganguly and others were minting runs against minnows). 62 vs England, 44* vs Pak, 43* vs ZIM, 53* vs New Zealand, and 47 vs Aus in Pakistan. Even in the Do-or-Die against SL in 2007 eliminator, he was standing tall. I feel he is grossly under-discussed as a ODI player.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Nice article, yes Ganguly is the man who turned things around for the Indian cricket...hope Dhoni takes the legacy forward..!!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    wrong indian cricket changed when Kaif and Yuvraj had that partnership at Lords. I'm a pakistani, but it was the youth of yuvraj and kaif that paved the way for the real change in indian cricket

  • POSTED BY cram2jam on | February 8, 2011, 15:37 GMT

    Great article. I have relived all those moments of 2003 campaign. I started following cricket with lots of interest only after the 2003 worldcup and I still do. I have watched the India-Pakistan match atleast 3 times. Tendulkar at his vintage best. Srinath played a major part too. He was the leader and inspiration the indian pace attack that was not highly regarded after the NZ drubbing. You are right. Indian team started believing in themselves that they can win outside the subcontinent since then

  • POSTED BY gestapo on | February 8, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    beautiful article,,u just took us through the 2003 world cup,,,it was a great one,,only faltering at the end,,the decision to filed first backfired and the bowlers lost it,,hope we make amends for it this time,,good luck india.

  • POSTED BY Er-.S.R.shankar on | February 8, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    Dear Rahul I am concurrent in your view that 2003 Indian world cup team and performance are the best ever despite stumble at the last hurdle--But you have grossly underplayed Rahul Dravid's contribution deliberately or inadvertently-- Since the match against Holland he scored in every match including the final; Against England he was the top scorer and in many matches in company of Yuvaraj he provided solidity in middle order It is unfair for any knowledgable cricket critic/follower to throw the blame on Dravid-Chappel duo for 2007 fiasco as it was preceded by so many glorious ODI victories[many were chases] for the same team from core team of 2003--The failure is more due to the poor format and one unexpected off day against Bangladesh While showing the deserving limelight for 2003 world cup team you prove to be a discerning follower of the game a little more balance in your articulation would place you in the elite band of writers

  • POSTED BY vjnag on | February 8, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    Excellent write-up. As always, great work Rahul! I always thought the 2003 world cup campaign was not given its due. I still vividly remember the victory against Pakistan. I was roaming all around the town on bike waving Indian flag. The best cricket night ever! :) I just wish for one more such match this time.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    Good article.

  • POSTED BY NALINWIJ on | February 8, 2011, 14:16 GMT

    India had a good world cup but were outplayed by a great side and the difference is that there is no great side like Australians in the last 3 world cups or West Indies in the first 3 taking part here. After eliminating the minnows over a month this world cup turns into a lottery at quarterfinal stage. There is only 2 sides that tick all the boxes in this cup that is SL and INDIA. Other sides all have one gap in their armory.England looked good on paper before recent series which shows that their form and injuries are a concern. Australia lacks spinners to suffocate the middle overs. SOUTH AFRICA lacks allrounders like they used to and hence batting depth and late over fireworks. Pakistan is inconsistent. West Indies and New Zealand are mediocore. And out of the rest Bagaladesh are playing well but have they ever gone the distance. ZIMBABWE have shown recent promise but are they good enough? IRISH MAY CAUSE AN UPSET BUT the rest are minnows.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    I have always felt that Ganguly was a blessing in disguise for India. He was the one who gave us that ruthless edge and helped India beleive that they were destined for much bigger things in the world of cricket. Here was a man, who stuck with the players he beleived in and it paid off. Most of the stalwarts in todays team started their careers under Ganguly.....Sehawag, Yuvra, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Nehra....just to name a few.

    Its sad to see that he has been left out of the IPL, but then again I think it was a fair result. In the cut throat world of business and politics there is no room for emotion.

    I will always cherish the 2003 WC, I remember feeling utterly disapointed when India lost the final, but then I managed to accept that Australia were a much better team. This Indian team definitely has a chance to win the world cup, Dhoni has a natural tendency to stay calm at pressure situations and yet inspire confidence, a skill that Ganguly did not posses.

  • POSTED BY CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on | February 8, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    @ban_chuckers well speaking foul about any team is certainly not good gives an indication of education and background of u,ur family and ur nation we indians always help others and r most sympethetic people and always help team be it sl,pak anyone but unfortunately our rise is envious and jealous to some teams well i cant help it u cant change fact that we run this game 70 percent revenue comes from us to game aus and sa have done wise thing by being our new friends as its win-win situation for both WE RULE

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 12:01 GMT

    @Ban_Chuckers your thinking is mediocre.If India is average in odi because of world cup failure then SA is also average, India has won more odi tournaments in last 3 yrs overseas which is 2nd to AUS . no one has dominated India in tests- SA have been equal. It is chapell era which hurt India in these 8 yrs.- still India won series under chapell as well.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | February 8, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    I remember that India was never expected to reach the finals after the home loss against the West Indies and the virtual drubbing in New Zealand even if they lost there by losing 5 tosses I think. The drop in wickets knew only those teams that batted second. Then in the final of the Worls Cup, I remember Zaheer being taken to the cleaners though he was bowling very well those days. Then after the Ponting masterpiece, and a big target, to lose Sachin early to Magrath made me stop watching for some time Then upon resuming, though we were losing wickets, I saw that Sehwag was keeping India pacing up the scoring rate very well.But at no point did I think that India had a realistic chance to win. It was a good wicket to bat on and I was a bit surprised that Saurav opted to field. Maybe we lost there. Then again when you realise that our performance earlier in the tournament as mentioned by in the article,was better than expected,I accepted the final result as a win for the law of averages.

  • POSTED BY sk-cricaddict on | February 8, 2011, 11:31 GMT

    nice article abt the 2003 WC campaign. i dont agree on one point though. this new age of indian cricket is a result of the victorious 2007 World T20 campaign, and not the 2003 WC.

  • POSTED BY Deepkar on | February 8, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    My mamory about that WC is ind-pak i remember it was mahashivratri and after pak inning all my family members said 273 agist waquar, wasim and shoeib is impossible and all went to near by shiv mandir excpt me i had cofidance in sachin when all my family returned they saw Score and it was 51 for 2 they said see we r going to loos but i told them to look at overs and batsman at non stricker end it was 5 overs and batsman at other end was sachin then everybody started thinking we will win. after match all my friends they were 40-50 and me did rally with big tendulkar cut out and we all were screming sachin jindabad, bharat mata ki jay and all that. but we never got angry on our team when they failed not at start of 2003 WC not in 2007 WC and we will never do that. ONCE AGAINE I WANT TO SCREAM SACHIN JINDABAD AND I HOPE HE WILL GIVE ME CHANCE TO SO IN THIS WC AS WELL AS IN 2016 WC.

  • POSTED BY cricket_wins on | February 8, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    This article, I humbly opine, has been written for boosting the morale of Indian general public ahead of the World Cup, especially since it is happening in India-SL-BD this time round. The article would be scoffed at by Australians, who believe (and rightly so) that what matters at the end of the day is that they have 4 world cup wins, three of them in the last 11 years, while India have only one, that came 28 years back. Our expectations must always be low from Indian World Cup teams, as they are the ones who lose on days that matter. Trust me, expect this team to perform poorly - you will not be disappointed either way. I will root for India, but I expect them to lose, just so I am not left with the feeling of '92, '96, '99, '03 or '07.

  • POSTED BY Wasim_Wasamadroota on | February 8, 2011, 10:42 GMT

    "Heralded a new age in Indian cricket", talk about basking in mediocrity. India have been very good in test cricket for a few years now (hardly dominating), average at best in one day cricket which can only be measured by world cup success. This "new age" included the 2007 world cup where India were embarrassingly bad, beaten by Bangladesh and didn't even make super 8 stage. Glorifying a world cup eight years ago where a couple of minnows were bullied and then to get beaten by a record world cup final margin, put down your rose colored glasses. Obviously doesn't take much to excite some readers.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 10:42 GMT

    feels good every time i think about the 2003 WC campaign!!!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    AMAZING ARTICLE...IT WAS AN AWESOME READ..GAVE ME GOOSEBUMPS!! HOPE WE WIN IT THIS TIME..BUT AS RAHUL SAYS,2003 WC WHERE IT ALL BEGAN!!

  • POSTED BY Farce-Follower on | February 8, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    India lost the war the moment they won the battle against Pakistan. It happened in 1996 too. The Indian media and crowds always fail to get the big picture. And Ganguly's decision to bowl first was the worst captaincy blunder of his life. What the hell was he thinking?

  • POSTED BY advsathish on | February 8, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    yes guys, the article is brilliant and timely. India would do well to remember that and for different reasons what Ganguly said after I think the thrid/fourth match in the WC 2003. It is not verbatim but something like " we were not getting much support from the outside. So we decided that we will help each other and this is how it started". The huddle is by now the most famous indian statement and what a team it has turned out to be.

    Let us celebrate this time, for one more match than in 2003. Jai Hind.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Brilliant Rahul...I was in an engineering college boys hostel then ....one14" TV for200 odd 20 year old fanactic indian cricket fans...the wins were legendry!

  • POSTED BY imirfan on | February 8, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    India has improoved in batting only why there is no world class bowlers since its bigining? Why? can some body reply?

  • POSTED BY katwash on | February 8, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    A very interesting article. My memory of the final, was watching a pathetic and hostile Khan getting belted out of the attack after seven overs. That performance by Khan alone, probably goes along way to explaining why he has a great dislike for the Aussies, and particulary Ponting, to this very day.

  • POSTED BY vipinchaudhary2325 on | February 8, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    Ganguly should have batted first in WC'03 final.... dont know why he choose bowling first... India always feel pressure Batting second.... Bating first and wid the form at that time, they might have made a score between 270-290 batting first, and from there on, Match was on... 360 to chase at that time was really difficult, and when Sachin got out on Four runs pulling Mcgrath, the match was Over.... hope raina & Yuvi dont play like Kaif & Mongia play in WC'03

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Very nicely penned and an eyeopener of an article. Many people forget the run of Indian Team of 2003 but this article gives a genuine insight for the distance Indian Team went in 2003 edition of WC despite coming to the tournament as underdogs. It definitely set the precedence for domination of Indian Team on World Stage.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 9:31 GMT

    Never knew about the can-crushing event in the dressing room post win over Pak. I must say it is very inspiring and re-assuring that our players carry that spirit at times. Love and support them all the more now :)

  • POSTED BY manangoel16 on | February 8, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    Well.. if you see, Sachin played his first world cup in 1992 in the middle order, India couldn't manage to advance to knock-out stage, in 1996, he opened, we reached semi-finals and lost to Sri Lanka (that loss still hurts)... In 1999, Sachin again played in middle order, although he opened in some of the matches, but we couldn't advanced beyond Super 6, in 2003 he came back to his favorite slot - opening the batting, we reached the finals, on the route beating some of the toughest teams & lost only to the World Champions.. In 2007, the Great Guru Greg debacle took place in which Tendulkar was forced to bat in middle order. What happened, we lost to minows Bangladesh and crashed out of the world Cup.. Now, in 2011, Sachin would again open the batting, and hope we cross the final hurdle and win the world cup.. Thumb rule is also saying this, when Sachin opened the batting, 1996 - Semi-Finalists, 2003 - Runner-ups & 2011 - WINNERS!!!!! Go India Go & win the trophy for billions of fans...

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 8:52 GMT

    Nice recap..During the Ind vs Pak match I had final exams,but didn't miss to watch the wonderful and unforgeable match.This article will reminding those days.Also the India's world cup journey in 2003.It's sad early exit in 2007 with a good team.But we hope India will won 20011 World Cup.All the best Team India.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    excellent article....uday

  • POSTED BY Deepkar on | February 8, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    from 2003 to 2011 so many things have changed like captain, cotch, bowlers, middle order, wk who can bat only Thing that have not changed and will never chang expectation from tendulkar akram said in ind. pak. match in 1992 WC when sachin came to bat at no 5 or 6 they knew this is only wicket they need to take to win the match it was 20 yrs ago and now 20 yrs. after all teams want to take his wicket to win the match nothing has change but this time we have good support to him and we will win.

  • POSTED BY May4sBeWithThem on | February 8, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    Always debatable, Rahul. Sure - we did very well in WC2003, but the Ganguly and Wright show had been on the road for more than 2 years by then, during which we had beat Australia and done very well against England as well. Also, in less than 2 years after WC2003, we were back to "mediocre" - thanks to the Chappell era, a serious slump in Sachin's form and injuries to other key players.

    I think the era that really has been a standout is the one of which we are part of now - starting from 2008, post the Sydney Test. The Dhoni era. Built on top of the Ganguly era perhaps, but really exceeds every other period.

  • POSTED BY ram_sachin on | February 8, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    Awesome said Rahul... Brings back the thrilling memories of 2003 WC... Wwwoww Tht was the India everyone wanted to see.. Best of Luck India

  • POSTED BY diehardcricketfan3 on | February 8, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    India is the strongest side in this WC. Some of the former cricketers named India as favorites. This creates some added pressure to the Indian team. India is playing infront of home crowd. This adds some more pressure. India only played well when there is no pressure on them. For example, take 2007 t20 WC. In 2007 WC, India is eliminated in the first round. Nobody thought India is favourite to win 2007 t20 WC. But India done that. So, in my point of view India is not a favourite to win the world cup.

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | February 8, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    Nice article Rahul. Well all that is going to change this time. The Aussies will decline and vanish in thin air and the ascension of India is inevitable. It's the rule of time. No kingdoms or empires have stood forever. The same applied to the West Indies, the same will currently apply to the Aussies. India will be crowned world champions in 2011 and will reign over the game for many years to come. India have reached the position where they are now through sheer hard work and brilliance. It's not luck as some people put it. The whole nation will be behind our team come the 19th of Feb. A toast to India - World Champions 2011.

  • POSTED BY Shaikh-s on | February 8, 2011, 7:26 GMT

    Well Well Well It was great memories only for the Pakistan Match Final Was nightmare any i how what think is instead of getting stronger at the crunch games Pak and india always fau;terd like india lose penaltimate ODI against SAand Pak is doiong in the last 2 ODI series but let see what happen this time

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 7:17 GMT

    One of the best article on cricinfo i read. Well we can never ignore ganguly for his contribution to the but Alas! what a sad departure he had...He was arrogant but the journey from minnows to tiger would not have been a success without this arrogance... Hope Dhoni Bring the World Cup back home..or at least give a new dimension to indian cricket...like Ganguly..

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    Why spare Indian Bowling in the finals......................... any kid who cannot even hold the bat properly hits every low full toss for boundary.........................................Why the hell Indians bowled full tosses in final

    That was the worst ever bowling display in cricket........and I haven't missed a single ODI in 15 years...just to remind you that just after WC 2003 AUS with their full strength visited Bangladesh and and on Bangladesh's placid wickets against Bangladesh's below avg bowling Australia's highest score was 250.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    G8 Article....I feel inded that 2003 at a world stage was begining of the Indian Juggernaut Rolling and its still relentless ...Kudos to Dada fro staring it though in 2000....Dont know honestly how India put up with Azhar from 1990 to 1999....92, 96 and 99 WC's we messed up and in between twas only home turf victories....most people forget that we lost to SA and Pak at home though and always lost overseas in '90's except in SL 1993 ...does it count?...But come Dada in 2000 transformation began which through Dravid, Kumble and Dhoni is BAU now..We have come a long way...2007 was a bad dream and aberration it happens....2003 was a golden WC run...2011 MIB just do it and give joy to teh nation which is under inflation and not happy

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    sachin s best of best...03 team was best wit great battin n bowlin units...2011 world cup is sachin(10th) wc...

  • POSTED BY kasyapm on | February 8, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    Thanks for the amazing re-cap. Really enjoyed reading it. "We didn't need Dinesh Mongia. We needed the man they call very, very special, the man who with gentle wrists dissects Australia to expiration. But Laxman was home, never ever to make it to a World Cup squad. " Nail in the coffin. Irrespective of the final result, he was the one eligible, not mongia. But, it was still an age of politics, as John Wright mentioned in his book - The Indian Summers and Laxman had to miss out. Hope to see the Indian team go the extra distance this time.

  • POSTED BY Longmemory on | February 8, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    Its been hardly 8 years since all that and yet one has forgotten so much. Thanks for bringing back a lot of details, the twists and turns along the way. I still believe, as I did then, that we should have batted first. If we'd managed to put anywhere above 220 on the board, who knows? An early wicket or two and the Aussies would have been under severe pressure. If Ponting had won the toss, he'd have promptly chosen to bat. Surely that should tell us something? Guess we'll never know. Still, hats off to that team for coming so close.

  • POSTED BY shirishdedhia on | February 8, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    Superbly written Rahul! good way to come up at this moment!wne we all r gearing up for another 2003 effect with some new lion kids n old roaring lions n tigers

  • POSTED BY blue-eyed on | February 8, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Thanks Gautam, for bringing back those fabulous heady memories. It was a wonderful tournament and we lost to a worthier opponent who were streets ahead of us. Dearly hope 2011 would erase painful memories of Jo'burg '03 and West Indies '07.

  • POSTED BY anirudhmeerut on | February 8, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    This is a top article..! INDIAN TEAM ROCKS..!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    article is really good..... but didnt it start a little before??? when yuvraj and kaif carried indian middle order with determination.. the 326 chase at lords against england when ganguly took his shirt off ... wasnt that the first sign of this new era......????

    (( before that we only had few such moments .. the 314 chase against pakistan at dhaka where ganguly and sahin went berserk in 1998 , india pak 96 wc qf jadeja thrashing waqar, sachin's one man army back to back centurie against australia at sharjah....and may be a couple more...... ))

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    @Rahul Bhattacharya: you rock dude.. brilliant article. i still remember sachin's murderous pull of caddick. what a night that was.

  • POSTED BY Sandeepbr on | February 8, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    I still remember the match b/w India Vs Pakistan where shoib got his due.. After 1st innings was over,Wasim Akram had commented that they are already won the match.. But Sachin the god of Cricket and Dravid the Wall , Dismantled Pakistan's Formidable Bowling Attack and Saw India win the match..

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | February 8, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    There is just too much hype round the Indians.I doubt that this Indian Team is capable of reaching the Semi Finals. And then - phoof! All that cricket -madness gone! Sanjay Manjrekar, pointed out during the Chamions Trophy Finals between Australia and West Indies in 2007, PLAYED TO EMPTY STANDS in India,Indians are NOT passionate about Cricket, they are passionate ONLY AOUT INDIAN CRICKET.

  • POSTED BY iamgroot on | February 8, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    This article is bang on target.. I appreciate the author to putting some truth before the readers what exactly went on in 2003 world cup and who were most responsible. It was Sachin, Zaheer, Srinath, Yuvi and if kumble is kept on bench for a worldcup final.. I think that was most stupid decision by the so called captain of that time. Adding to that woes he has inserted the opposition like Australia who were in prime form in that tournament just like India. By the time India started batting match was already lost with demoralizing innings from ricky ponting.. and chasing 360 in a worldcup final was just too much...against likes of mcgrath, But 2011 team is totally different.. our captain is Dhoni the shrewd, calculated, calm man who has stable head above his shoulders and Indian team has been doing well.. This 2011 team looks more settled than the one in 2003. This indian team is deadly with right combination and if Sreesanth comes back wow it will be threatening.. GOOD LUCK INDIA

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    No, it really started with the Natwest series, and not just the final, the whole series. Sadly, Kaif could not make it to bigger and better things from there.

  • POSTED BY Sreerang on | February 8, 2011, 6:14 GMT

    Yes, Australia were great and India was tensed up and hence rigid in their body language. They could not relax and enjoy the game and hence we could not even put up a fight. But what the heck, it was a great campaign and as rightly pointed out, it all started there. Been watching cricket for close to 30 yrs now, but as Souvik says, the adrenaline rush was amazing and unique during the Sachin-Sehwag partnership against Pakistan. Chasing 300 against Wasim, Waqar & Shoaib- Ha! Simply unbelievable. Good article and a great style

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    mind blowing................. what a memory that was thanks it refreshed..........

  • POSTED BY DaisonGarvasis on | February 8, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Yes it still feels good with those memories of 2003. Yes, Australia deserved to win that final and Ponting's was one of the best ODI Innings ever (especially condiering the occassion and that he was the Captian). Yet that Indian team gave all but just the World Cup. I still remember Ravi Shastri chanting "It's Vintage India" the moment Ganguly took the third wicket against Kenya as if he could see the turnaround after that match! And what a turnaround it was. Sachin sending Caddik over the midwicket and then taking Akthar off the attack!!! This time again, Australia seems to be the TEAM TO BEAT!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    Yes..that had shaped up to a fairytale World Cup till the finals. Many of that team will play this World Cup..lets hope the fairytale repeats itself..but with a changed ending :)

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    still can remember that 1st March, a gr8 batting line-up of India having SRT, Viru, Yuvi, Dravid at one end and a gr8 bowling attack of Pakistan with likes of Akram, Waqar & Akhtar on the other..... one of the best WC games, I had ever seen, in fact one of the best ODIs ever seen.... this time India v SA can be repeat of that

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    Oh man, I remember those times -- being 15 years old and growing up in a cricket-mad nation. Everyone obviously wanted India to win the final badly -- but everyone was as nervous and excited as the Indian team. I guess in the end the occasion got to the bowlers. Gilchrist and Hayden took full toll, and then Ponting played a magnificent innings. Still, I thought the total could be chased -- Gillespie wasn't playing. We needed Sachin to do a Ponting and take apart McGrath like he had in the past (remember Nairobi three years previously?) But when Sachin got out, I thought of the Natwest final the previous year and Dada's huge boundaries off Flintoff. When Dada hit Brett Lee or McGrath (I can't remember) for six, we were so charged up and cheering every single shot. But then Dada hit one straight up in the air. But then Sehwag started smashing everything to the boundary: we still had hope. After 25 overs, we could have chased it down if Sehwag hadn't been run out. Great memories :)

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Superb article about our great romp in 2003. Makes me want to toss away my inhibitions and disregard the obvious time zone differences to be a part of 2011...

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Nice Article! It was truly a dream run with all the batsmen performing to their potential and the best fast bowling I have seen from an Indian side not to mention the electrifying fielding and the team spirit. It was truly refreshing to see an Indian side performing like that. Credit to John Wright and Saurav Ganguly. They changed the face of Indian cricket

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    Fantastic Article. This will be one of the most open World Cups, I sense many upsets.

  • POSTED BY Go_Sachin_Go on | February 8, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    Wow!!! what an article. No one could have painted a better picture with "mere" words. You are like the JK Rowling of Cricinfo

  • POSTED BY Biophysicist on | February 8, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    Choosing Dinesh Mongia, who is a utilitiy player good only for the 2nd XI, in place of VVS, who should have played in both the 2003 and 2007 world cups, is a major blunder on the part of the selectors. It is one of the greatest disappointments for Indian cricket fans that a player of Laxman's class never played a world cup match.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Now we have only one captain..who often loses at TOSS and makes it up by winning Matches :)....We have better chances to win the WC-2011

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Fabulous! It's surprising people don't usually remeber this! The Pakistan match up was by far one adrenaline rush i have never experienced in Cricket. Tendulkar and Sehwag went haywire! And to think they had Shoaib, Waqar and Wasim. I always thought that this was the Big Indian resurrection in Cricket, but to actually read it like this is amazing!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Truly, one of the best articles in the Cricinfo repertoire so far. Thanks for the wonderful recap. It was indeed a fairy tale, although it was only 8 years ago. Hope the colts manage to go one step more this time around. I am looking forward to what is shaping to be, at least at face value, one of the most closely competed World Cups.

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  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Truly, one of the best articles in the Cricinfo repertoire so far. Thanks for the wonderful recap. It was indeed a fairy tale, although it was only 8 years ago. Hope the colts manage to go one step more this time around. I am looking forward to what is shaping to be, at least at face value, one of the most closely competed World Cups.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Fabulous! It's surprising people don't usually remeber this! The Pakistan match up was by far one adrenaline rush i have never experienced in Cricket. Tendulkar and Sehwag went haywire! And to think they had Shoaib, Waqar and Wasim. I always thought that this was the Big Indian resurrection in Cricket, but to actually read it like this is amazing!

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    Now we have only one captain..who often loses at TOSS and makes it up by winning Matches :)....We have better chances to win the WC-2011

  • POSTED BY Biophysicist on | February 8, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    Choosing Dinesh Mongia, who is a utilitiy player good only for the 2nd XI, in place of VVS, who should have played in both the 2003 and 2007 world cups, is a major blunder on the part of the selectors. It is one of the greatest disappointments for Indian cricket fans that a player of Laxman's class never played a world cup match.

  • POSTED BY Go_Sachin_Go on | February 8, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    Wow!!! what an article. No one could have painted a better picture with "mere" words. You are like the JK Rowling of Cricinfo

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    Fantastic Article. This will be one of the most open World Cups, I sense many upsets.

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Nice Article! It was truly a dream run with all the batsmen performing to their potential and the best fast bowling I have seen from an Indian side not to mention the electrifying fielding and the team spirit. It was truly refreshing to see an Indian side performing like that. Credit to John Wright and Saurav Ganguly. They changed the face of Indian cricket

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Superb article about our great romp in 2003. Makes me want to toss away my inhibitions and disregard the obvious time zone differences to be a part of 2011...

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    Oh man, I remember those times -- being 15 years old and growing up in a cricket-mad nation. Everyone obviously wanted India to win the final badly -- but everyone was as nervous and excited as the Indian team. I guess in the end the occasion got to the bowlers. Gilchrist and Hayden took full toll, and then Ponting played a magnificent innings. Still, I thought the total could be chased -- Gillespie wasn't playing. We needed Sachin to do a Ponting and take apart McGrath like he had in the past (remember Nairobi three years previously?) But when Sachin got out, I thought of the Natwest final the previous year and Dada's huge boundaries off Flintoff. When Dada hit Brett Lee or McGrath (I can't remember) for six, we were so charged up and cheering every single shot. But then Dada hit one straight up in the air. But then Sehwag started smashing everything to the boundary: we still had hope. After 25 overs, we could have chased it down if Sehwag hadn't been run out. Great memories :)

  • POSTED BY on | February 8, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    still can remember that 1st March, a gr8 batting line-up of India having SRT, Viru, Yuvi, Dravid at one end and a gr8 bowling attack of Pakistan with likes of Akram, Waqar & Akhtar on the other..... one of the best WC games, I had ever seen, in fact one of the best ODIs ever seen.... this time India v SA can be repeat of that