Monday, April 4, 2011

World Cup 2011....finally its India....colour Blue reigns Supreme !!

It may be coincidental....but as I sit to write, I notice, the blog dashboard has the colour Blue with the orange tinge...quite similar to the Indian cricket jersey....my favourite colour has been Blue.....Everyone around seems to be immersed in colour Blue.....as all our Blues are washed away giving rise to a new era of Blue.....such is the impact of winning the ICC World Cup by India.

It was the evening of 25th June'1983, as Kapil's Devils lifted the World Cup at Lords, defeating the marauding West Indies in the finals....a feat which had every cricket fan then, rub his eyes with disbelief. Barring the eleven Indians on the field that day, on one had dared to dream. Defending a paltry score of 183, Kapil Dev ran down the mid wicket to catch an inform Vivian Richards out & the Windies slide began as the dream started to form....it was simply unbelievable. India lifted the Prudential World Cup. I was then a college student, & cricket was still not a religion in India. In Calcutta, at around 11.30 pm in the night, after watching the procedings of the match over  a black & white TV, I celebrated India's victory by uncorking a bottle of Limca, as the city was generally asleep by then !!! With that victory, we started to dream, to believe in our potential,....from minnows, we had become potential Champions overnight.

28 years since then, the dream kept getting bigger & bigger,......each edition of the World Cup soared our hopes, the competition amongst playing nations intensified & became larger.....the demand of a billion plus Indians to win back the Cup only strengthened.....in 2003, under Saurav Ganguly, we almost made it at South Africa, where in the finals we got overawed by the situation & were swept away by the Aussies & then 2nd April 2011 got immortalised....in the annals of Indian cricket...for ever !!! Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Men in Blue lifted the World Cup in the backdrop of the flood light washed Wankhade Stadium, as fireworks, blowing trumpets, & frenzied celebrations took centre stage.

2nd April dawned & the streets across the country wore a deserted look from about 1pm, as the whole nation in unison was glued to the screens, of every conceivable size & shape, in huddles of couples to a group to a crowd, cheering, jeering & praying fervently.....everything had come to a virtual standstill.
The Lankans won a controversial toss & elected to bat, as Zaheer opened the attack for India. His opening spell was simply mesmerising with three consecutive maiden overs & the scalp of Upul Tharanga, caught by Sehwag in the slips as the Lankans struggled at 31 for 1 in the first 10 overs. Dilshan, the nemesis of Indian bowling in recent times also perished soon, bowled by Bhajji, just when he was turning dangerous. Sanga & Mahela then slowly built the innings, but just when things were getting under control, Yuvi claimed Sanga, caught behind. Mahela kept the good work going with his quiet & classy elegance, as he was ably assisted by Kulasekara & Perera to bolster the Lankan innings. Mahela reached a masterful century, as Lankans blasted 63 runs from the batting powerplay. While Mahela held one end up with some classic, silken display of batsmanship, Perera hit 22 of just 9 deliveries including a massive six off Zaheer in the last ball as the innings ended at 274 for 6. His stunning 103 off 88 deliveries was testimony to his finesse & capability. Four years ago Mahela had produced another superb hundred against the Kiwis in the semis to take his team to the finals, but this one was more exquisite in application. Good combative total to challenge the mighty Indian batting line up.
The Indian reply could not get any worse, as Sehwag was removed LBW for a duck by the slinging Malinga in the 2nd ball of the innings. When Tendulkar too edged Malinga behind in the 7th over, with score reading 31 for 2, there was a death silence in the stadium, as hands folded to prayers, eyes started to close & heads started to droop. The billion plus prayers across the length & breadth of the country showed signs of response as Gambhir got a much needed reprieve at long off by Kulasekara when at 30. Sanga seemed either too confident or too consumed by the atmosphere, as he missed going for the kill, & Gambhir along with Virat started to pull back the match for India. When Virat was gobbled by Dilshan off an incredible return catch, Dhoni stepped in, much to the surprise & murmur of the crowd. Despite a insipid display till now in the tournament, Dhoni looked calm & confident, & both added 109 runs to take India to the brink of victory when Gambhir got bowled for 97, giving away a glorious chance of a century in the finals. Yuvi in next, along with Dhoni took India home to pull off the highest run chase ever achieved in a World Cup final. Dhoni hit a befitting six to win the match & the tournament, remaining 91 not out of 79 deliveries. It was a good match overall, with India deservingly winning the hurdle.
Dhoni was deservingly the Man of the Match & Yuvraj, the Man of the Series, as Zaheer was the joint top wicket taker of the tournament. For the Lankans, it was Mahela Jayawardene's century in the finals & Dilshan being the top scorer of the tournament, as any consolation. Sangakkara would certainly rue for not pressing the advantage, when India were at 31 for 2, & allowed them to come back in the game.

As most of us lost our voice & senses, screaming for India, the celebrations spilled over to the streets & roads......everyone was ecstatic & delirious with joy unbound....the country was alive & awake till the wee hours of the night, drinking & dancing & soaking in the feeling of being the  World Champions. The World Cup is finally ours. Sachin Tendulkar had finally earned the  silverware that had eluded him till now. It took him six World Cup campaigns to realise his best cricketing moment, as he tearfully acknowledged the applause & accolades. Meticulous hard work for more than a year by the Indian contingent, under the able guidance & coaching of Gary Kirsten, the lethal leadership of Dhoni, the will to win for Sachin, the never say die attitude, got India the World Cup finally........a celebration that will last at least for the next four years !!!! For Gary, he becomes the first South African to win a World Cup medal, even though it comes as a coach.

Incidentally, during the innings break after Sri Lankans batting, the cameras were purposefully beaming on Rajnikant in the stands, wearing the Indian jersey.....coincidental !!!...well as they say, if Rajnikant...no body can!!! With him rooting for India, there was no way in hell that we would have lost.

PS : Am curious on what happened to Poonam Pandey, the model who had promised to go bare in the Indian dressing room, if India won the Cup. Hmmmm...now that would be interesting to know, with eligible turks like Yuvi, Gautam, Virat, Raina, Yusuf & Sreeshant around !!!

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