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We still love you Team India, but please don't take fans for granted

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:07 IST

If anyone had even thought aloud that India was never going to reach the ICC World T20 final, let alone win their second title, the unsuspecting bloke would've been labelled an anti-national. However, the fact is that despite giving due credit to the Indian cricket team, the MS Dhoni brigade never looked convincing enough to go all the way.

There. It's been said.

Ever since their hammering in limited-overs cricket against South Africa last year, which also prompted questions on Dhoni's leadership skills, the Indian team has surely come a long way, especially in finding the right team composition.

The team defeated the mighty Australians in the T20 series, tamed the Lankan lions at home and went on to win the Asia Cup title earlier this year. More than playing in their own backyard, it was Team India's sublime form that made them one of the top contenders in the World T20.

However, contrary to popular perception, the high-flying Indian team was shot to the ground by the Kiwis in their opening match. With every game practically a knockout for India, the indomitable spirit of Dhoni's men turned the campaign around and took them to the semi-finals.

The team exploited the poor form of Pakistan to register their first win, while their one-run win over Bangladesh still remains a mystery. In the crunch game against Australia, it was the sheer class and grit of Virat Kohli that single-handedly propelled India into the semis.

While Kohli continued to impress with his batting might, the Indian team as a whole never really found its groove in the tournament. And, the void was visible to all in India's seven-wicket loss against West Indies in front of a packed Wankhede stadium.

In a format like T20 - where the minutest of the details often end up deciding the fate of the participating teams -Team India failed to click as a collective unit. The first semi-final between New Zealand and England is a clear example, where the Kiwis - who remained unbeaten in the Super 10 stage - were simply not good enough on the day when it mattered.

On D-day, India witnessed a similar fate. Dhoni looked out of sorts, the much-hyped Ashwin appeared to be afraid to bowl the final over and the discipline was far gone. Towards the end, it was also the frame of mind that did India in. If Ashwin is touted to be one of the best bowlers in T20 cricket, he should have snatched the ball from his captain before he threw it to Kohli to bowl the last over.

As the Indian captain pointed out in the post-match presentation, it was a bad toss to lose and the dew factor visibly reduced the chances for the hosts. But, India is too good a team - and their fans are smart enough - to know better than to blame luck and to make peace with the bitter loss. Dhoni's men still had to play good cricket and the fact remains that they failed to do so.

Despite being favourites to lift the coveted trophy, our team crashed out of the tournament in the last phase. Barring a few lunatics, the Indian fans didn't really bash or foul-mouth the players - like Pakistan and Bangladesh fans did after their teams got eliminated. Rather, they gave credit where it was due and came to terms with the fact that West Indies were a better team that night.

Yes, we still love our team and the faith in Dhoni hasn't deteriorated, but that shouldn't allow the star-studded team to take their fans for granted. After all, watching two outsiders compete for the ultimate prize at the Eden Gardens will undoubtedly be a hard pill to swallow for the Indian fans.

First published: 1 April 2016, 4:53 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.