It took 28 years for an Indian to hold the much coveted World Cup trophy and what a time to get it on our own backyard with crazy fans cheering all around and over 1 billion eye-balls on TV screen. To bring smiles on every Indian and to make them feel proud after India was plagued by corruption, scams and what not in past few months was a much greater achievement. Winning the way we did,with emotions running high and Sachin playing his last world cup saying the win was an ultimate thing and proudest moment in his 21 year career suggested what the trophy meant to him and each one of us. We lived our dream, a beautiful dream indeed.
I feel the key to India’s success was peaking at the right time and Dhoni’s captaincy.We had arguably the best batting line-up ever to take field on a WC but our bowling was not at all on par. A leader is the one who knows his strengths and knows his weaknesses better. To get the best of his team is Mahi Way of doing things.He backed the bowlers to bowl the crucial overs and more often than not the plan clicked. And one man we cannot forget,our coach Gary Kirsten who was always there toiling hard with the team. More importantly each player played their best game in whatever roles they were supposed to play.
Our batting was always a threat to the opposition and with the starts given by Viru and Sachin decimating the bowling attack,it looked more ominous. Sachin needs a special mention here. Lot was talked about him going into the tournament-His last world cup,only trophy he is missing in his kitty,best chance to win a world cup for the very reason it is played in India.It was indeed a privilege to see him bat the way he did. Being the second leading scorer in the tournament giving solid starts for the lower batsmen to consolidate is what he did best most of the time. Viru was at his explosive best-Especially the 175 knock that he played against Bangla in the tournament opener, was crucial to settle the nerves. Then came Gauti to play THE innings of his life in the finals.Tat 97 was very crucial after India lost both the openers cheaply. Virat Kohli is the future and present of India.Whenever I see him bat,I feel India is in safe hands.Then came Yuvraj-the flavour of Indian cricket in the world cup. Making a comeback into the tournament with not so good 1-2 years, he was the game changer for India.4 man of the match awards and man of the tournament.Wow! A dream outing.He played the sheet anchor role with perfection. We all know what he can do with the bat when on song,but the way he bowled with 15 wickets in all, was astounding.India found an all rounder in him.Suresh Raina’s cameo against Aussies and Pakistan was very very crucial given the situation.With his surprise entry into the team in quarters replacing Yusuf Pathan, he proved his point big time. And with his inclusion the fielding standards were raised automatically. Then the captain who looked patchy in the entire tournament and to play a innings like that he did in finals was simply special.It was only fitting for him to finish things off with a thunderous six. Zaheer Khan was the bowler of the tournament for me.Especially the way he bowled with the old ball, every time a bowl was thrown at him with India needing wickets desperately he didn’t disappoint at all. He leaded the bowling attack with elan. Bhajji looked good in patches especially against the match against Pak. That void in spin bowling was filled by Yuvi’s bowling. Munaf,Nehra and Ashwin played the supporting role.
To dethrone the Aussies who ruled the world cricket for a decade or so, was special. Aussies were not all at their best in this tournament. To defeat them and to go on to win the title was icing on the cake. With West Indian domination of world cricket in 70-80s and Australian domination in late 90s,this could be the time for India for world domination. I liked Ponting’s face of disappointment after playing an innings of substance to end on loosing side. India held it’s nerves to go on to win the match in style. Yuvraj’s celebration said it all.
Then came the mother of all battles- the much hyped Indo Pak encounter. With ticket rates touching sky high,Pakistan PM and Pak delegation along with Indian PM witnessing the match,likes of 2G s-SoniaG and RahulG in the stands giving political angle to it added much to the hoopla. It was a self declared national holiday on that day. Sachin getting dropped 5 times,Yuvi and Raina’s rescue act,Umar Akmal’s fabuluous shots,Bhajji’s roar to celebrate a wicket, Misbah’s late hitting- the match had it all.
India were never beaten in a world cup game against Pak and history repeated itself.With that confidence,India went on to conquer the final frontier-the Lankan juggernaut.I felt Lankan side were mightier than Oz and Pakis and looked a much more balanced side then we were.Taming the lions was not impossible but difficult. After they set a stiff target with an amazing innings from Jayawardene,Indians had to bat very well to win,keeping in mind the pressure always building up to the chase,after all it was a world cup final.Early wickets of Sachin and Sehwag added to our batting woes in big finals. I sought for divine intervention- a rare occasion in my cricket watching career.Some of my friends went on to switch off the tv thinking it’s all over.But Lankans were up to a resurgent Indian batting. Gauti rose to the occasion and deserved a 100 the way he batted, equally well supported by first Virat and then MS who promoted himself ahead of in form Yuvi. As India looked confident to seal a victory,MS began to cut loose letting his bat do the talking to silence his critics. After Gauti’s unfortunate dismissal,it was only fitting for Yuvi to join in and finish things off along with MS. India winning the world cup and winning in style led to night long celebration as though India got independence.People dancing on the streets,bursting crackers with joy all around,distributing sweets to their loved ones was a common sight across the nation.
Someone rightly said -As long as Rajnikanth was on the stands cheering the team,India would never loose. After it was proved ,quite obvious though,people were wondering where was Rajnikanth when India played 2003 World cup final.We as fans by being superstitious did anything and everything to bring back the cup. Aamir Khan who saw India winning against the arch rivals Pak in Mohali,went on to wear the same T shirt (thinking it as lucky)to cheer the team in Mumbai. The great Amitabh Bachchan did not watch the quarters,semis and almost resisted to not watch finals with the belief that if he watches India would never win.It was a grand celebration in field too. Emotions were running high with likes of Harbhajan,Yuvi,Sachin in tears-tears of joy,tears of success. Then it was time to hold the world cup-the moment everyone longed for. With hand shakes,hugs all around someone had an idea to take Sachin on their shoulders and go around Wankhede- the hometown of Sachin and the very ground where he was an ball boy in one of the 1987 World Cup matches.It was apt for Virat Kohli to say that it was high time, to take Sachin on their shoulders after he served for 21 long years by taking responsibility on his shoulders.Most of them went on to say they were playing for Sachin as he deserved to hold a world cup after representing the country for so many years.Indeed it was a fitting tribute to his illustrious career to lift the ultimate prize which had eluded him in his past 5 world cup appearances.
Then it was chance of Guru Gary who was taken around the stadium for some time. It was unbelievable scenes from Wankhede and people were getting crazy and it took long time for the news to sink in. I had never seen people so happy dancing with joy. I got up from the bed the next day realised we were world champs recalling the match felt very happy and slept again.
With this win comes an additional responsibility of maintaining the tag of world beaters.HOPE we do so…