It is over. India was supposed to be world cricket champions, but ended up as second best and to a majority of Indians second was just not good enough. The loss hurt more because it was the first loss and it came in the last crucial match.
A day after the final, India seems to have millions of analysts and millions of selectors, most mouthing reasons on what should have been done and what should not, with analysts trying to scurry every corner of the pitch to find the fault.
The fault is: India does not have a winning mentality. The solution: it needs to develop one and that can happen when the men on the field learn to play fearlessly. We need a change in mindset and once that happens, wins will roll.
India has reached the ICC finals in the past by winning the semifinals. And, most of the time, we won the semifinals, but failed to breach the final frontier. Winning a final is a mind block that India needs to get rid of first.
Electing to field was the reason; the catch taken to dismiss Rohit Sharma was the turning point; Head’s century was the reason our dreams were dashed, these and a thousand more reasons will flow, but none will help form a river.
India simply needs to develop a mindset to win the finals and that cannot be achieved through net practice or physical fitness or group sessions. It requires a change in mindset, and therefore, someone who understands the human mind. A task that needs to start from within.
The change in mindset will entail players to play without fear – to play not thinking of ifs and buts. Just go, have a blast and come back with the knowledge that if one failed, there are others to pick up from there.
This mentality was missing on the ground on Sunday and it could be seen in the manner Virat Kohli and K L Rahul were unable to send the ball over the fence for long on a wicket that was good for batting. This is the fear that inhibits our players.
Not being able to hit a ball across the boundary, for 85 balls, tells of the nervous fear in both the batsmen because the wicket was neither bad nor bowler-friendly. They were not able to hit it simply because they did not want to take the risk – fear.
If India did so well in all the other nine matches, it was because the openers played without fear and that play was not just entertaining in terms of watching, but brought results. When the mind sets itself free, results flow freely.
India, or rather Indian players, will get over the loss and will get on the winning bus again, but this time they will need to realise that the bus is not just to reach the finals, but go beyond, and that beyond will be within reach when all eleven play without fear.
India won from in the start because the two openers started without fear, and thus, set a foundation for huge totals – scores that surprised many. But, in the final, there was a stumble and the team could not get its act together again.
India, experts say, had big hitters but they were sent to play down the order. They should have been sent earlier, is one argument. Notwithstanding arguments, India needed players who would take up the cudgels for themselves and then their country.
But, look at Australia. Records showed that India piled up huge totals when they batted first.
When Australia won the toss, they asked India to bat first and flew away with the trophy. Mind without fear.
“Life without freedom is like a body without a soul, and freedom without thought is like a confused spirit….Life, freedom and thought are three-in-one, and are everlasting and never pass away,” are the words of Kahlil Gibran that bounce after a final that could have been ours.