India v Pakistan: A Lesson In Having Faith

Delhi, India

Those who didn't watch yesterday's T20 Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan live missed something special. India were 31/4 at one point with a target of 160. At the end of 10 overs, India were 45/4, which meant that we needed 115 runs from 60 balls (required run rate of 11.50). And this was on top of the extreme pressure of any India-Pakistan match.

To win from this position was out of this world! The situation had looked bleak for a really long time and there weren't many people who still had faith. I was one of them.

I had almost changed to a different channel but my mom forced me to continue watching. I often tease her for being unreasonably optimistic but she was so right this time. Not having the same spirit as her made me realise that I had started turning into a more skeptical person lately (or the last few years).

The direction in which the world has been turning, Chelsea's continuing misfortunes and not-so-great circumstances in my life were making me disillusioned with the idea of having a positive mindset. Instead, I'd prepare for the worst. If you don't have hope/faith/expectations, you won't be disappointed, right?

It's not that I didn't have faith at all. I was just betting against it. I was reminding myself that in the world of cold hard logic, there is no place for unrealistic emotions. So whenever I'd feel overly hopeful and start having faith, I'd restrain my emotions. Chelsea leading against Man City in the Champions League final? Prepare for them to concede two goals immediately and eventually losing.

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to make blanket inferences from a skewed sample set. I understand the law of averages and that the probability of even unlikely scenarios is non-zero. So these kinds of wins will happen at some point. But the seemingly obvious yet hard-to-internalise thing here is that human behaviour can change the probability of events. Unlikely things become less unlikely when people believe that they can be done—when they have faith.

Another key ingredient here is taking action on top of the faith. If Kohli and his batting partners had not created some kind of a strategy to win and then actively tried to execute it, even with the risk of getting out and people slandering them, there was no chance that India would have won.

This, again, was a reminder to me that I've become too passive, spending far more more time analysing possible outcomes of a decision that I have to take and worrying about potential criticism than actually doing something and working based on how the situation pans out.

Of course other factors also play a part. The Indian batsmen needed to have the necessary skill level to take action effectively. They also needed some luck to be on their side (remember the extras?). Indeed, faith + action + skill + team + luck is a winning combination but only some of those are points that I've been struggling with. In the end, this blog entry in primarily for myself when I'm feeling down.

So this is a reminder to have faith and take action. Go forth. Any mistakes that are made along the way can be fixed later.

Happy Diwali. :)