As Team India celebrates its resounding T20 series washout of Australia and even calls it historic, the fear of this limited-overs revolution swamping all other forms of cricket sound more real than ever before.
From a reluctant entrant to the format, till it won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and went on to dazzle the world with the riches of IPL, India has been at the forefront of making everyone realise its money-making potential and the frenzy it generates among the crowds.
The vast number of its powerful supporters derisively call the critics of this format purists and traditionalists. It is a roadblock, an irritant that gets flattened each time India takes another giant step in this “historic march” forward. After getting demolished 4-1 in the more traditional format – the one-dayers – the Indian batting might has shown a tigerish resolve in proving to the world who the real boss of this slam-bang variety is.
What does it mean when words like ‘historic’ and ‘great’ are freely bandied around for a win in a format which so far was thought to be a relaxing diversion after the real contest got over? What does it mean when the captain and the coach of the team give an inspiring post-series speech to their players, underlining the significance of what they have achieved?
No Indian team, they were told, has challenged the might of the Australians in their own backyard and steamrolled them. So what if the Australians, by resting their key players and main bowlers, showed how little significance they attach to this format! That is not India’s problem in their quest for becoming “invincible” in the shortest and most lucrative format of the game.
Put in the larger historical context, what a proud moment for a team, that was blanked out very recently in a Test series played there and almost got the same treatment in the one-dayers, preceding this super performance. As if on cue, for the next few months, India play nothing but more of this format – the Asia Cup, the World Cup and fittingly, the finale will be the IPL, the jewel of its T20 crown.
Until now it was universally accepted that terming any one team as favourites in a T20 tournament is foolhardy. Even then, given India’s formidable batting strength, the experience of playing in the IPL and home conditions makes them undoubtedly the best bet for the punters to win the World Cup.
Imagine, India being crowned for the second time as the World Champions, and then when the IPL follows, its TRP ratings would hit the roof. That would be the moment for us, the traditionalists and the purists, to throw in the towel and be part of this new world order! A world order, where who knows, even national teams will be selected through auctions one day.
(The views expressed are personal. The author tweets as @pradeepmagazine.)