By Marty Gleason
At the Cricket World Cup in February here in Melbourne, India played South Africa – two powerful teams. South Africa was favourites but instead India thrashed them. This match might be a simple surface matter in which everything went India’s way, but the way the winds are blowing this century, this match felt something like a watershed moment for India, both the team and in a larger sense.
On the micro level the Indian team exhibited all of the hungry, hustle-based plays that are bothersome and irrelevant to people not used to excellence. They ran hard, tight singles, effected two brilliant run outs, their long throws from the outfield were powerful and on target. In short, India played with an energy and firm mentality that they did not in previous decades.
It is sorely tempting to take this match further… further than this 2015 Cricket World Cup and further than sport itself. India used its home ground advantage to win a gritty 2011 World Cup and is therefore the current title-holder. The pressure-laden 2011 successfully out of the way; they are this time playing with a confidence that the world is theirs. At cricket’s administrative level, India are now the chief decision-makers in the boardroom.
Expanding the view outward with a wide-framed lens, we saw an MCG completely sold out with a wonderful, joyous Indian crowd of 87,000 (in Australia!), and it was hard to escape the impression that Australia is incrementally becoming Asian through and through, both Indian and East Asian.
Pulling out wider, India has become both a fashion and an economic reality. Employment from Western companies is now famously being sent to India. One day India and the rest of the developing world will wake up to the fact that they simply need to administer the jobs they already have, and then service-based countries like Australia will have cooked their own gooses by their greedy outsourcing. India’s IT is also top of the pile, to name some simple examples of India rising while the old school of Europe is fading.
From a numbers point of view, a billion people working can only increase net wealth in both India and China. Meanwhile, one of the great forces of American power at work in the 20th Century is the ‘soft’ power of its movies and music. India seem to be doing this well of late – British Indian Dev Patel has become this decade what the Chinese starlet Zhang Ziyi was last – the new young face of Indian-Western movies. India is of course also backed by its own massive movie industry in Bollywood.
Perhaps the new confidence can be summed up in Mr Five O’Clock Shadow himself, the belligerent 26-year old Indian cricketer Virat Kohli – darling of India’s Gen Y and dating a Bollywood star. The previous generation had been led by the polite Sachin Tendulkar, who although the greatest player of all time was only carried to glory in his twilight years by the ‘Bring It On’ Kohli types.