Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cup of Joy

“1983 was yours”, I told my Dad, as frenzied celebrations erupted all around – on the television screens, in the streets and in the tears that flowed down the cheeks of the Men in Blue. “This is our World Cup.”

And I was not exaggerating. Most of my generation in India were told tales of the historic day in 1983 when Kapil Dev lifted the cricket World Cup. The intensity of these fond remembrances increased once every four years when India participated in yet another World Cup, raised a billion hopes and then faltered.

But no more. The Men in Blue have ensured that the World Cup which came to India to be given to the Champions stayed home. India won and how!!! Though someone had to be a Man of the Match in every battle, it was truly a heroic team effort. It would perhaps have been equally fitting if the Indian team shared these individual awards – there would have been no greater example of how 11 men became one.

It was a brilliant night preceded by one of the more harrowing of evenings for me personally. India started off beautifully and then gave runs generously towards the end of the Lankan innings. And then came the start of the Indian innings. When Sehwag got out, I was still okay and then Sachin got dismissed too. I closeted myself in my room with a book, with music turned on full volume and refused to pay attention to the match, until I was completely sure that we were champs. I do that. I just cannot bear the sight of us losing or playing badly. Call it a lack of sportsmanship. I don’t care. The tension is way too much for me.

I came out just in time to see the last over commence, thanks to the shouts of joy that emanated from the neighbouring buildings and my own brother. And then Dhoni hit that brilliant six to bring home the cup. It was sweet poetic justice. On our way, we beat Australia, knocking them out of the tournament and avenging the humiliating 2003 Final loss. We defeated the arch-rivals Pakistan in style and finally conquered Sri Lanka and laid to rest the ghost of 1996 semi-final in Eden Gardens.

The celebrations began then. And I could just watch in wonder as one by one all these grown men of Indian team lost composure. I will never forget the sight of Sachin Tendulkar being carried around the grounds on the shoulders of his team mates. He was the reason why I began watching cricket and he is one of the reasons why I still watch it. I have never watched a World Cup, in which he has not played. And this was probably his last. It brought a twinge to my joy but what the hell, I thought. His crown is now complete. The dream of the man came true yesterday and the legend had another conquest. Fittingly, one of the youngest members of the team, 22 year old Virat Kohli, paid perhaps the greatest compliment to Sachin when he said, ”This man (Sachin) has carried the burden of this country for 21 years. We can at least carry him.”

World Champs!!!
(Picture Source: NDTV. com)
It was a team which won, however. And not one person. The captain who could not contribute with the bat earlier in the tournament came alive in the final. A warrior who had valiantly fought almost by himself for the better part of two decades, finally had an army to back him. A man whose very selection had led to countless heated debates silenced all the naysayers. The young turks who have so often been berated for the lack of responsibility proved that they are more than capable of carrying the mantle when the legends retire. If that is not the stuff dreams and fairytales are made of, I do not know what is.

Former Indian Test Captain Anil Kumble with World Cup
(Picture source: 
I read in the newspaper that when Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni arrived at the post match press conference, Yuvi jumped on the table and shouted out Badhaiyaan, Badhaiyaan (Congratulation, Congratulations). The inscrutable and imperturbable captain of the Indian team could not help but giggle in delight during the question and answer session. Then, there was this photograph of Anil Kumble being handed over the trophy by Sachin Tendulkar when he went to congratulate his former teammates. That shows how this team has not forgotten those who are no longer part of the team but had a great role to play in bringing the team where it is today.

These are heart-warming pictures of joy that I will always remember. So yes, Dad, this is our World Cup.

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