April 2, five years ago

Like in political history, empires rise and crumble in sport. Dhoni’s outfit and in the future, Kohli’s merry bunch, should turn the corner. Until then, especially on April 2, it is time to get nostalgic over a summer night in 2011.

The Indian team is jubiliant after winning the World Cup in 2011.   -  K. R. Deepak

When April 2 dawns, it would be a bittersweet moment for Indian cricket. Five years ago, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men successfully chased Sri Lanka’s 274 for six at a delirious Wankhede Stadium. The skipper lent the finishing touch – a six off Nuwan Kulasekara, to trigger celebrations radiating from Mumbai to the rest of the country.

The World Cup was India’s to cherish, coming as it did after a long gap since Kapil Dev held it aloft at Lord’s in 1983.

Cut to the present, the wheel has come a full circle for both the Indian team and a storied venue caressed by the Arabian Sea’s breeze.

The West Indies’ successful pursuit at the Wankhede on Thursday snuffed out the Men in Blue’s prospects of reaching the final of the ICC World Twenty20.

The fifth anniversary of the 2011 triumph and the current angst over a semifinal exit are pegged on different formats – the conventional 50-over World Cup and the Twenty20 shootout. The time-frames are diverse but the Indian team, albeit with some change in personnel, remains a common thread.

2011 was all about a squad peaking perfectly as Australia (quarterfinals), Pakistan (semifinals) and Sri Lanka in the summit clash, were cast aside. Dhoni had Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan, under him. Even the unsung Munaf Patel played a stellar role and Harbhajan Singh was the lead spinner.

The script is different now. Having retired from Tests, Dhoni leads only in limited overs contests and he is tackling retirement queries in media interactions. Among the senior players, Ashish Nehra has delivered; Yuvraj Singh has been middling (an odd cameo and a bruised ankle equally making news), while Harbhajan has slipped with R. Ashwin being the numero-uno spinner.

Largely, the present Indian team is still a work in progress. The exit of veterans has propelled the next generation into big shoes. Some had their sunshine, however, the truth is that across all three formats, it is only Virat Kohli and Ashwin, who have fortified their berths, playing as they do at a level far superior to the rest of their colleagues.

Once the core unit is set and consistency is embraced, India should do well. It may take time and until then the failure to retain the World Cup last year or last the distance in the World Twenty20 this year, has to be accepted with patience. It would also be prudent to acknowledge that the West Indies batted remarkably.

Like in political history, empires rise and crumble in sport. A positive fact is India hasn’t hit the depths like Sri Lanka that is struggling with transition. Dhoni’s outfit and in the future, Kohli’s merry bunch, should turn the corner. Until then, especially on April 2, it is time to get nostalgic over a summer night in 2011.