A bitter pill to swallow
IND vs AUS World Cup 2023 final: You could almost hear the dejected sighs around the ground as the Indian players stood with utmost silence at Johannesburg’s New Wanderers Stadium, trying to process the bitterness and regret of the World Cup trophy ebbing away.
Back in the stands, tears swelled in the eyes of many donning blue jerseys. The 2003 tournament was not supposed to end like this.
When India won their maiden title in the most surprising circumstances exactly two decades ago, it was meant to usher in a new era for the sport in the country, cricket pundits argued. But the March 23 heartbreak left some wondering whether the hype that had been created by Kapil Dev`s men was worth cheering for. Still, they held on to hope and optimism. Their patience had been rewarded after eight years of longing and desperation.
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Irony has that India will face the same opponents on Sunday as that uneventful evening in 2003. Both, invincible and unyielding in nature, fighting with the same valour, for a crown, but more of an honour.
That India remain undefeated at this edition like Australia were then happens to be the only striking dissimilarity.
Nerves shredded by expectations, India are headed into their fourth World Cup final, believing they are destined to win the competition on home turf. Australia, on the other hand, have looked out of touch and rhythm for most of the tournament, but have always held themselves back from abandoning all hope in the face of defeat.
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The reigning champions were not through, the mercurial outsiders in green stumbled, the strong contender stayed true to their ‘choker’s tag’, and after six weeks of high-voltage drama, we have come to this: a spicy World Cup final.
Regardless of which team emerges triumphant at the Motera, though, which storyline is reverse-engineered as destiny, on some level this will always be India’s World Cup, not because they played the hosts, but the one that made them a bunch of conquering heroes, a record-breaker, a watermark that promises to not fade so easily.
But don’t be amazed yet!
India will have a lot to offer on Sunday, ensure to keep your delicate emotions at bay until then.
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