The first thing I saw today morning as I went to get some milk was a bunch of toddlers running around with little flags in their hands. The remnants of fire-crackers had littered the streets like a confetti blast had gone off. I then looked at the faces of all the people, going about doing whatever they would, on any regular day. I noticed a blissful expression on everybody’s face, old and young alike; it was the effect of the morning after! What all of us had witnessed last night would be etched in our memories for as long as we are alive. I grabbed the morning paper and the headlines in big, bold letters read, “We are the world” and that summed up all our collective feelings, didn’t it?
In contrast, I recollect the scenes that had transpired after the Indian team’s early exit from the cricket world cup in 2007. Effigies were burned, houses of players’ were pelted with stones by disappointed fans and the media along with experts, had gone berserk criticizing the shabby performance put up by the cricketers in the world cup. Looking back, if that hadn’t happened, we might not have seen the resurrection of Indian cricket. Had the long-haired power-hitter from Ranchi not taken over the reigns as the captain, would we have witnessed what we did, yesterday? Had Coach Gary Kirsten not agreed to mentor the Indian cricket team, back in early 2008, would we have won the many battles which we did, which saw us becoming the No.1 test side and the No.2 ODI side? It’s not such an easy question to answer, is it?
Come 2011, the balance of power had changed. Though Australia were still the No.1 ODI side, India were touted be the favorites to lift the cup this time, of course, few other teams were close on their heels when it came to the tag of ‘favorites’. India however, went about unassumingly to win almost all their matches in the group stage. From there on, everybody knew if India were to surpass the next 3 obstacles, they would truly deserve to not just win the cup, but also to be christened the new ‘Champions of the World’. And they didn’t disappoint; they beat three of the best sides in the tournament to reach the finish line. Yes, the moment every cricket loving Indian had waited for these past 28 years, had finally arrived. India is the brand new world champion. The memories of the winning moments from 1983 can finally be laid to rest, because now we have fresh memories to cherish and to share, with the generations to come.
How does one describe the sights that unfolded last night? I for one have never experienced the surge of so many emotions all at once; joy, jubilation, relief, satisfaction, pride and the warm tears that rolled down my cheeks. Neither have I seen this country rejoice with so much fervor for anything else, for once, the entire nation became one. For every Indian, this victory would rate higher than 1983, even for the legends who were responsible for bringing us the cup back then. We had to wait 28 long years to recreate those winning moments, we yearned for it and we prayed for it happen. Nothing according to me, manages to capture this feeling, better than the song – ‘We Got the Whole World in Our Hands’.
It was as though time had stood still when Dhoni hit the ball, ricocheting it from his bat towards the boundary line and few seconds later, billions of people from all over the globe erupted to sing, dance and celebrate. What followed would be carved in our hearts and minds for times to come. The scenes on the ground seemed like those from an epic movie. Players and support staff running onto the ground, embracing each other, commending each other, some kissing the ground beneath them and some even breaking down into tears. It was heartening to hear Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli say that this triumph was dedicated to the ‘God of Cricket ‘, Sachin Tendulkar. Like Virat very rightly said, Sachin has devoted 21 years of his life to Indian cricket, not once complaining about the burden he was made to carry, this man truly deserved to end-up on the winning side of this world cup. We have seen many shades to this great man – as a humble human being, a humanitarian and yesterday we got see the paternal side of him as well, sharing his happiness with his children Sara and Arjun. The coy Gary Kirsten, a legend in his own right, perched on the shoulders of India’s gen-next is another memorable moment that yesterday’s victory gifted us. These 15 men would be best friends for life and heroes in all our eyes.
But for me, the biggest hero of them all will be captain cool himself, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He came, He saw and He conquered is how I would describe his contribution to this Indian side. India rose from strengths to strengths under this man’s leadership. He kept changing his hairstyles but the one thing that didn’t change about him was the dedication that you could see in his eyes. He battled all the lows and kept himself focused on the ultimate goal, winning the world cup for his country. We expected to see some euphoria from him after having hit the winning runs but that was not to be; he was his usual self, with a faint smile on his lips, taking in everything and registering each moment in his mind like frames from a movie reel. Though his expressions didn’t give away much, the strands of grey hair on this 29 year Old’s head said it all, he had attained more wisdom and inner-strength than most people his age. He will forever be remembered and revered as the man who brought the world cup back to India, and also as one of the greatest leader to have marshaled his men on the cricketing field. This is my answer to one of the earlier questions that I had raised in this post.
Amidst all this ecstasy and elation, please spare a thought for some of the stalwarts who were a part of this uprising. Players like Anil Kumble, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, without whom, the resurgence of Indian cricket would not have been possible. This world cup victory can be called a coup of sorts, because we beat the WI to end their rule over the world cup in 1983 and we did the same again yesterday, by removing the 3 time consecutive world champions Australia, off their throne. The Indian cricketers with this win have also justified, the prejudice towards this de-facto national sport.
If you recall the blissful expression that I was referring to at the beginning of this post, it took me a while to realize what it was that made all the faces look so similar. It was a glow, like one I had never seen before, and if I had to be a little more precise, it was like all the faces were painted golden. This must be what world cup glory feels like!
Winning Moments and first day as world champs.