After their brilliant victory in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2011, Team India was superbly confident in the World Cup 2015, and it’s only natural. They started their campaign full of confidence under the smart & strategic leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who already had 2 World Cup victories, among other trophies, under his cap- the T20 World Cup in 2007 and the ODI World Cup in 2011.
Everything was set. India was determined to retain their world championship in the ICC World Cup. And they were winning too- match after match- 7 matches at a stretch. But that ultimate dream fell short of only 2 victories before it could come true, and Team Australia is to be blamed for being the villains in this scenario.
The Indian Squad for ICC World Cup 2015
The squad playing in the World Cup tournaments is the most important one for any country’s national cricket team, and that’s why this squad was chosen with much discussion and consideration. Apart from pure talent, one needs to be in the right form, warmed-up enough to take the blows in the field, have perfect chemistry with the other teammates, be flexible enough to be utilized at crucial moments for the team, and so on.
But having a comparatively younger mindset- flexible and quick to adjust their own style to the situation- and a physically more active team was what Dhoni chose to have, especially after winning in the previous edition of the game. The squad that took India to the semi-final of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2015 included:
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain/Wicket-Keeper)
- Virat Kohli (Vice Captain)
- Ajinkya Rahane
- Ambati Rayudu
- Axar Patel
- Bhuvneshawr Kumar
- Mohammad Shami
- Mohit Sharma
- Ravichandran Ashwin
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Rohit Sharma
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Stuart Binny
- Suresh Raina
- Umesh Yadav
The team did not have Ishant Sharma due to an injury, and he was replaced by Mohit Sharma. It also lacked one of the key players of the previous edition of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh.
Road to the Semi-Final of World Cup 2015
Being a part of Group B, India had six matches in the group stage- one match against each of the other six members- Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland, Zimbabwe, and the United Arab Emirates.
Unbeatable Team India in the Group Stage
India’s 1st match in the World Cup 2015 was against none other than the arch-nemesis Pakistan, and they won by 76 runs with Virat Kohli’s century of 107 runs off 126 balls. From the Pakistani squad, Sohail Khan took 5 wickets in that match.
The next match was won by a whopping 130 runs against South Africa. Shikhar Dhawan carried the baton in that match with a century of 137 runs off 146 balls. Ajinkya Rahane, too, added a substantial amount of 79 runs from 60 balls.
The 3rd match was the time for the ballers as the UAE team chose to bat first. But the Indian ballers limited their innings to a very small total of 102 runs. Most of the credit goes to Ravichandran Ashwin for taking 4 wickets for only 25 runs. India won that match by 9 wickets.
In the 4th match, India beat West Indies by 4 wickets, but it was not that easy, though West Indies scored only 182 runs, thanks to Mohammad Shami for taking 3 wickets for 35 runs. But captain Dhoni’s 45 runs off 56 balls came in handy to save the day.
In their 5th match, India beat Ireland by 8 wickets with 79 balls at hand. The credit for this victory can easily be given to Mohammad Shami for taking 3 wickets for 41 runs, along with Shikhar Dhawan for scoring 100 runs from 85 balls and Rohit Sharma for scoring 64 runs from 66 balls.
Although Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, and Mohit Sharma took 3 wickets each in the 6th & last group match against Zimbabwe, India had to chase down 287 runs. Suresh Raina and Captain Dhoni took the responsibility on their shoulders when the top-order batsmen failed to perform by scoring 110 and 85 runs, respectively.
Winning the Knock-Out Stage by 109 Runs
India beat Bangladesh by 109 runs in the 2nd quarter–final match, or the knock-out stage, of the ICC World Cup 2015. That match and the victory were marred by a huge controversy where Rohit Sharma was given a second chance at 90 runs before he went on to score 137 runs, taking India to a total of 302 runs.
Semi-Final Pulled the Curtains for Team India
After winning 7 matches at a stretch, Team India reached the semi-finals of the World Cup 2015 and faced yet another nemesis, Australia, in the 2nd match of the stage. India lost the match by 95 runs, and that was the end of their World Cup journey for that year.
With Steven Smith’s 105 runs and Aaron Finch’s 81 runs, Australia scored a massive total of 328 runs for 7 wickets. In reply, the Indian batsmen didn’t manage to stay on the pitch for long enough or efficiently enough, except for Captain Dhoni, who scored 65 runs from 65 balls.
It’s natural for a team to lose in a match, but that defeat hurts a little too much when it happens this close to the ultimate victory. India’s journey till the semi-final was more than brilliant- both the ballers and the batsmen shone in a perfect balance to hold their team. But it didn’t work out as desired or expected, till the end.
What went wrong? Nothing, it was just a simple match. Team India had to accept defeat in the spirit of sportsmanship and that it was not their time. Yes, retaining the world championship is every team’s ultimate goal, but there’s no guarantee of success in achieving that goal. And one must not forget that there is always a- Next Time!