Team India – making 1.3 billion of us proud


In team sports, it is about the playing eleven, and if you are talking a whole series, it is about everyone who played in the series and contributed with runs, wickets, catches and stumpings, feels G Venkatesh.

True they had us on the mat,
and went off to enjoy their summer Christmas.
Without Kohli to go out and bat,
they all thought it was anyone’s guess,
which way the series would end
come the 19th day in a new January.
The wounded tigers first learnt to defend,
and doing so, attack their way to victory.
The Aussie arrogance did not subside.
They thought words and wounds would make it 2-1.
Ashwin and Vihari silently graced,
the Sydney Test which we almost won.
A depleted team took the field at the Gabba, or so everyone felt,
Why do challenges keep piling on?
No worries though for the young brigade,
they made the Adelaide loss a distant bygone.
Pant and Thakur, Siraj and Washington,
and Gill who came in like a refreshing gale.
Hats off to you guys of Generation Zee,
for scripting this very memorable tale.

The Indian team’s experiences Down Under mirrored what India and many parts of the world experienced in 2020, doggedly battling the virus, accepting the ‘new normal’, learning new skills, and unearthing abilities which many did not realise they possessed till they found themselves under the battering ram. What Team India achieved in the end on an overcast evening in Brisbane, mirrors what India and Indians wish to, in year-2021, after numerous epiphany moments, where many thought that all was lost, and Armageddon was near. Some individuals and families suffered multiple blows – personal and professional, psychological and physical, mental and emotional.

Written off by the experts, but silently supported by many others who preferred to look beyond the obvious and trust in turnarounds – inspired by angelic energies from the universe which we struggle to comprehend – the squad endured one shock after another, one injury after another, one unnerving comment after another, to tell the world that it is not a good idea to write off wounded tigers. ‘Paper tigers’, was how someone labelled them after the loss at Adelaide. They licked their wounds, let the Aussies expend energy with their vocals, and even without the need to growl or roar, ended up as victors.

When we talk of Team India, and in the context of this magazine “One India One People”, it is that a team is much bigger than any individual talented bloke in it. A team which takes the field is composed of 11 bodies, minds and hearts working together towards a common goal. Let us remember that team sports are different from individual sports. In tennis, you can shower your adulation on a Federer or a Nadal and that is fine. In team sports, it is about the playing eleven, and if you are talking a whole series, it is about everyone who played in the series and contributed with runs, wickets, catches and stumpings.

It was great to see Rishabh Pant lead the team for the ceremonial walk around the ground, with the Indian flag in hand. It was wonderful to see Pujara from Gujarat bat along with Gill from Punjab and Pant from New Delhi. It was heartening to see Shardul Thakur from Mumbai and Washington Sunder from Chennai come up with that match-saving century partnership. Hanuma Vihari from Hyderabad teamed up with Ashwin from Chennai to rescue us in Sydney, while another similar combination worked wonders with the ball in Brisbane – Mohammed Siraj and T Natarajan. Skippered by the soft-spoken Mumbaikar Ajinkya Rahane, who reminded us a lot of Rahul Dravid at the helm for a brief period in the first decade of this century, the newcomers showed great gamesmanship. Mohammed Siraj who could not travel to India to attend his father’s funeral, gave his all to the team and ended up as the leading wicket-taker for India. Natarajan, who could not travel to India to be with his wife when she gave birth to their baby daughter, now can go home to see her with a great deal of satisfaction.

Indians – young and old alike – can take a leaf out of what our cricketers have demonstrated in Australia in possibly the roughest and toughest of conditions. Let each one of us resolve to do good and set good examples, and while doing so, contribute to our society, city, and country.

Cricket is a great metaphor for life….if aficionados would learn to relax their fanatic devotion to this cricketer or that one, and absorb the essence of what the game teaches. Lessons for life!

G. Venkatesh

G. Venkatesh is Associate Professor, Department of Engineering and Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology, Karlstad University, Sweden. He is also a freelance writer for several magazines around the world. The author has set up Varshita Venkatesh Girls’ Education Fund with Plan USA in memory of his wife and the Varshita Venkatesh Plogging Fund for The Indian Ploggers Army