Cricketing, all the way to Glory
I am neither a great expert of cricket nor a cricket historian. To me cricket is the greatest form of entertainment, only next to James Bond movies. Frankly speaking, I had no hopes for the Indian Cricket team to lift the world cup. The way they were inconsistent with their performance, their unpredictability, undependable form and incoherent team composition made them look like the least likely team to win the World cup. It was either Australia, Srilanka or South Africa that were poised to win, in my opinion. I thought it would be a great feat if India crossed the quarter finals stage and the great feat was performed only to be followed by much greater feats. If India had lost in the knock-out stage, I would have felt bad for Sachin. The cricketing God would miss his last chance to recover the most sought after prize for the country. That was my only worry. Like every other cricket fan, Sachin is truly a phenomenal hero for me. I just wished that he lifts the cup for us more than any other cricketer.
Getting back to the ground, it was those last 3 matches that spiked the heart rate of 121 million Indians. Australia vs India, what a match it was? It saw Australian players like Ricky Ponting rise up the situation and send the ball blasting away to the boundaries. Nothing was wrong in their team. It was an impeccable performance in all departments of the game. Fielding and Bowling was excellent. But the Indian squad had answer for every situation. They matched the Australians in all possible ways and played defensively though a large part of the innings and finally peaked at the right moment to sent the Aussies back home. None of the cricketing pundits would have predicted a win for India in that match. This win also ensured a nerve-racking match in the semifinals. India vs Pakistan, the mother of all fixtures. It is a dream come true for any cricket fan to watch the match between these two countries. It is one occasion when the game becomes a battle. And what more you need than a blasting starter. Opener Sehwag opened the flood gates for the runs to flow in with his spectacular boundaries. The run rate was over 9 per over when he was dismissed. At that stage the score could have gone upto 400. But the Indian line up started their defensive attack. The run rate came down to as low as 4 per over. A moderate score of 260 looked liked a sitting duck for the Pakistanis, but they were in for a surprise. This time the bowlers rose up to the occasion. Excellent disciplined bowling attack and committed fielding ensured that the Pakistanis were sent home packing for a 231 runs. If only Sachin has completed his 100th ODI hundred in that match, I would have been 100% happier than Sachin himself. The win ensured a place in the finals for the clash for the title: World Champions 2011.
Sri Lanka is not an easy team to face. They have been a nightmare to many test playing teams. They have had an excellent run in this tournament. Their top order batsmen were in full form. They humiliated great teams like England and West Indies to reach here. Their bowlers were in form and the team had killer instinct to get back the world cup to their country. On the D-Day their top order let them down. But the middle order stalwarts Sangakara and Jayawardane pierced the Indian bowling attack. Jayawardane stayed till the last ball to ensure a high scoring Innings chase for India. Indian field attack on this day was exceptional. Raina and Yuvaraj were fiercely sharp in the field. Normally sloppy fielders like Zaheer and Munaf were also seen diving to save runs. In reply to the Srilankan innings of 274 runs, the Indian openers Sehwag and Saching collapsed their wickets to Malinga the very early stage of the match. But Dhoni came up the order and steadied the ship. Partnering with Gambhir and Kohli, Dhoni made sure that we stayed on course. The innings saw some mature shots and finally the Six from Dhoni’s bat ensured that Indians are the World Champions for the next four-year. It was the greatest gift the team could give Sachin. For all Sachin has done to Indian Cricket over the past 21 years, he definitely deserved it and we Indians wanted and missed the World champions title like the deserts missed the rains.
The team played for each other and stood up for each other through difficult times. It’s an excellent team effort. They kept their calm in the pressure tides. They failed to accept defeat and they never gave up chasing the victory. From what it seemed like an incoherent team composition, they went on win the World title. To me it was the greatest moment of my life. India have won 2 world cups so far and both during my lifetime so far. When they first won their title, I was probably still finding it difficult to get the alphabets and nursery rhymes right. But this time I was there sitting in the living room to witness the dream of a nation go alive. This would go down as the most dramatic moment of my life.