"The unexpected is always likely to happen" - John Motson  


The media had dubbed this mega-event as "India's coronation". Even before a single ball had been bowled, India was expected to win, with agencies such as BBC and the Guardian confident that captain and co., Rohit Sharma, would lift the trophy on the 19th November. Reels and shorts had been long created, with crowns being placed on Indian sensations ,Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, cloaked in robes and adorned with jewellery. Well, perhaps if they had taken heed of what John Motson had said a teeny bit more, 1.4 billion hearts wouldn't have shattered. Because unrealistic expectations breeds unimaginable disappointment.

There was and there is no doubt that India by far, were the best team in what had been quite a bleak and miserable tournament (which hadn't done much to revive the 50 over format, but more on that another time), and had lived up and perhaps even exceeded all expectations enforced upon them, by billions around the globe. Their campaign resembled an unstoppable juggernaut around the nation, that was fuelled by the wave of blue supporters which cheered and bellowed support on every run, every boundary, every wicket and every team that they would topple mercilessly in their path, beating 4 teams by a margin of 100 runs or more. 

We all felt as if India were too good for this tournament. Well, until the 19th of November they were.

When Glenn Maxwell hit the winning runs of Mohammed Siraj's bowling, an eerie silence deafened the 100,000 strong Narendra Modi Stadium. A sort of silence which was accompanied by a plethora of emotions: anger, grief, shock but the majority just unable to comprehend what had happened, unable to fathom that the odds had been defied. The trophy presentation was even bleaker, and in my view, a desolate ending to quite a desolate world cup; what had once been a blue sea of energetic and wild patriots, was now just an empty swathe of orange-painted seats. The life had been sucked out of the stadium, of the majority of the cricketing world, as a distraught Narendra Modi - the PM of India - brought an end to the tournament, handing the trophy to Australia. His facial expressions, rather the lack of, told everything the world needed to know. The fireworks were merely a formality. This wasn't meant to happen. This wasn't what the world wanted. This wasn't part of the script.

Sitting in our living room, my friends over to watch the game, a similar silence penetrated through the house. A silence that would have penetrated through a million other households as well. Some of us had our mouths wide open, gaping at the Australian celebrations, others head in lap. Cricket is a religion in Indian households, and we all know that. It binds the odd 1.4 billion people together, and is one of the few commonalities, maybe even the only, in such a diverse and large democracy, split by a million controversies. And when it doesn't go to plan, when it betrays a billion hearts, when it doesn't follow the script, it is bound not to end well.

The 50-over World Cup is the pinnacle of global cricket, the ultimate showdown, the trophy to win, even in a world where the presence and importance of the longer over formats seems to be diminishing. After the shock semi-final defeat against New Zealand, in 2019, this was too much to handle for some Indian fans. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami are the stalwarts of this Indian team, who may or may not play the 2027 World Cup in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Rohit, who captained this formidable Indian side, is unlikely to ever get his hands on the silverware after this loss, who had such a crucial role to play in this tournament - his aggressive and fearless style of play lauded by many, as he steered the Indian team to the final of this showpiece event. It is for them that this loss will sting the most, and for Rohit especially. In the post-match conference, he said that "It wasn't supposed to be". I couldn't agree with him more.

The reasons for India's downfall in this match is something which no one could really comprehend. Everytime there is an ICC event, they are favorites to win it, no matter the conditions or the venue, or all of the other multitude of factors. There is a mind-boggling amount of pressure in representing a nation like India, and it wouldn't be far-fetched to presume that the performance of players was compromised due to them succumbing to it - such as happened many times previously as well, in the knockout stages. Many did say that batting under lights was much easier, as the pitch sped up, and the dew also aided Australia, but all in all, India were just beaten by a better team on the 19th, and there is no way around this.

As the prospect of dinner loomed towards us, me and my family sat down on the dinner table. We talked about India's downfall, their bad luck and some of the other factors mentioned above, as if trying to talk our way out of this situation, which nobody had expected, let alone thought of. When the debate, which was just starting to boil into a minor argument, my mum  casually stated "Oh, just forget it as if it was a nightmare! "

Me and my brother looked at her. He laughed at her sarcastically, whereas my mind darted back to the winning moments. I thought to myself:

"Since when did nightmares last for 4 years?"