Mumbai: Just before the Indians left their hotel for the Wankhede Stadium and the World Cup final, six men spoke to the team. They were the players from the Class of 2003. Each of them told their team-mates his own story about what had happened at the Wanderers that day, about the mistakes of eight years ago that should not be repeated. They had tried too hard, they had been too eager, they had allowed the situation to overwhelm them. It was a cautionary tale. Their words were few, short, and plain and they gave the younger, newer, less scarred group in front of them a simple instruction: not again.
It is how India have performed at the tail end of the World Cup, looking at how their group stage had gone and saying, never again. So that in the last fortnight of this World Cup, they could find a way to ensure that their early mistakes would not be repeated.
It is often believed that finals somehow never turn out to be the events that are expected because the high stakes make athletes go cold and freeze up. Much is also said about what captain MS Dhoni called "peaking" in an event, which works more smoothly with individuals than it does with teams.