A world-view, induced by commercial interests, that treats human resource like a robotic instrument, would want us to believe that India is already a champion team and the World Cup is just a formality to be gone through to confirm that fact. The work pressure in this work culture is a positive that helps in better productivity. The greater the pressure, the better one performs.
The cricketers, on whom the onus lies now to perform as per the script laid down, are fortunately well aware that the beauty and mystique of sport lies in its unpredictability and even the best talent is not always guaranteed victory. It is this understanding of sport, which helps them absorb the pressure of expectations and attempt to perform to the best of their abilities. The cricketers have now coined a new interesting phrase to make light of being burdened with the aspirations and hopes of "a billion people".
Skipper Dhoni, a pragmatic skipper if ever there was one, echoed what a few veterans have said, that Indian players should use "pressure as a responsibility".
Were India to win the World Cup, it is a one liner, which could become a hot property for the advertising world to exhort future generations to produce their best on a high-voltage stage like the World Cup.
The good thing about this strong and formidable Indian team is that it has in the recent past performed exceptionally well under pressure and won matches from almost hopeless situations. They have not let the pressure get the better of them, a quality that they will need in abundance if they have to do well. The Indian fan is as fickle as a child's mood and as unforgiving as a scorned lover and can turn from a worshipping slave to a nasty beast within no time. The 1996 World Cup semifinal loss to Sri Lanka was a nightmarish experience as the Eden crowd felt so cheated and in its fury that day would have devoured even their idols.
Like now, in 1996 too the advertising blitz had convinced people that no other team, other than India, could win the Cup. The defeat, therefore, came as a greater shock than it would have in normal circumstances.
The difference today is that this team looks much stronger and better prepared than any Indian team in the past. They are, no doubt, among the favourites and no one will be surprised if they go on to win. But is the new aspirational, assertive, aggressive Indian fan ready to accept sport for what it is: A game of dice, in which you win some, lose some and get on with life.