Millennium Post

And what of other sports?

India's winning the Under 19 World Cup has had the proverbial cup runneth over. Indeed, in recent times, India has been trying its best to give the others a hard time on the world stage. Even in games like badminton or events like shooting and gymnastics, India has been giving the others a real run. Perhaps, it all started when India won the cricket World Cup in 1983. Even the diehard optimist was taken by surprise. Beating everyone through to the Finals was, by no means, easy but India did it with aplomb. And, then, beating what was then the invincible West Indies, was the icing on the cake. True, this was not Test Cricket but a One Day affair but those rated underdogs throughout the tournament had the world sit up and take notice. True, there were not too many cash rewards or huge sums invested in the game but India never looked back since. With every World Cup, hopes began to soar. Cricket, at all levels, became highly competitive. New talents, and amazing ones at that emerged. Unlike in the past, they did not come from princely families but were the princes of the cricket arena. India has, since that memorable win of '83, reached the Finals and then, in a couple of years, became World Champions again. Starting with schoolchildren, everyone got into the act. Since the World Cup Under-19 started, India have emerged victors four times. True, there may be quite a gap between this level of cricket and the real senior variety. But they are already knocking on the door. Soon, there may be a problem of plenty and that is not too bad a problem to have. As for the U-19 World Cup, from Mohammad Kaif to Prithvi Shaw India won their fourth U19 World Cup under the captaincy of the latter and the three captains before that were Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand.
India has now become the most successful team in the history of U-19 World Cup. Australia were the other team with three titles but now India have stepped ahead of them. India won the first title back in 2000 under the captaincy of Mohammad Kaif. The former India cricketer led the side to its maiden U19 World Cup title. The team had the likes Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh among others. India had to wait eight years for their second title. It was in 2008 when India lifted the second title under the captaincy of Virat Kohli. India beat South Africa in the final of the tournament. Small wonder that Kohli is the current captain of the Indian cricket team. Most of his compatriots have not been as successful but can take heart from the fact that, apart from representing the National team, they earned IPL contracts as well. As matters stand, India now ranks in the top three in all formats of the game. Having done so well at cricket, it is time for India to try and be competitive in other sports as well. While it has been showing great promise in some games even at the international level, it ought to look for the glory that was ours not too long ago. Back in 1966, for instance, the then Indian tennis team reached the Challenge Round of the Davis Cup only to lose to the fabled Australian quartet. There are tennis talents but their skills must needs be honed for consistent success. The same holds true for track and field. In hockey, it has bounced back a good deal. But why be content as the "also rans" in other sports? For example, since the golden age of the early 60s, Indian football sunk to an all-time low of 150 in world standings. With the grit, determination and zeal shown by our young cricketers, nothing ought to seem all that daunting a task.
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