Saturday, April 09, 2011

The World Champion feeling!!

The concentration was just not there..Logging into Facebook was only making it worse..Each friend seemed even more nervous and expectant than the other..One of those days when you just wanted to get it done with..

I was unusually confident on the eve of the World Cup Final, almost over-confident. It felt like the night before an exam you knew you could ace..The wait for 2 am, April 2nd,couldn't have been more nerve-wracking..Around 9 pm, we decided we were going to watch THE battle at a friend's place on a big screen TV and make some noise.Garlic Veggie/Paneer Tikka Pizza before the game wasn't a bad idea, we thought.

Even for my cricket fanaticism,the involvement in this tournament was intense.A month before before Cup day in mid-January, 3 friends and I discussed very animatedly about India's squad of 15. It had to culminate in a Cup win, nothing else would have given any of us even an iota of happiness. My blog before the World Cup tried to summarize the expectations in cricket-mad India. It was with such mass frenzy that MSD's team commenced the campaign.

1:20 am on THE day,we reached our destination..As I was waiting for the toss,I began to re-live the journey.Great start vs Bangladesh,shoddy bowling and fielding vs England that eventually got us a tie, sketchy performances against the Associates,making chokers look like winners in Nagpur,unconvincing win against the West Indies, hair-raising brilliance against Aussies,continuing the World Cup hegemony against Pakistan. But the feeling that all that would be wasted if we did not arrive in Mumbai, was hollow and scary..However,watching "Invictus" a day before the final, made me clearly believe that destiny was knocking our door..Clearly, MSD was our Matt Damon and SRT was our Mandela/Freeman..
As my wandering mind came back to San Jose,I was appalled by what happened at the toss.After the usual comment about Shaz being Shaz, I thought Sanga's body language did not look right(proved wrong by ESPN's analysis later,which confirmed it was 2-0 at the toss for Sanga).Anyway, batting 2nd was not a bad option I thought, provided we did not gift them 300..The 58 metre side boundary looked enticing, one that each one in our top 7 could clear with one hand..

India's bowling started well..Khan was outstanding at the start,his mastery over his art is astounding.As Shaz says, "He knows exactly what he is doing". Sreesanth looked lost, but I remembered the Mallu tea shop catch of Misbah in Jo'burg, hoped he would bring us luck and consoled myself. Munna was,well Munna..I was disappointed with MSD's flat captaincy in the middle overs and Zak's choke at the death against Perera..At half way stage,I still thought 275 was "very gettable" at Wankhede..The opinion in our room was divided..Some felt India leaked 25 too many for a massive game such as the Cup Final.

Just a 20 minute break due to India's pathetic over-rate helped settle all jangling nerves. Before the sleep deprived eyes could yearn for liberation,the chase began.It wasn't a bright one..31-2 was the only moment when negative vibes covered me for a minute..But I told myself this India was different from the earlier India..They just don't believe in the word "Loss" and don't give up. Gambhir/Kohli showed grit in fighting the occasion more than the situation..Kohli's fall led to the arrival of Yuvraj Singh. Oh wait, it was MSD!!!I instantly reckoned it was a calculated move to split the lefties and that's what it was, not daredevilry/heroism..
Highest score of 34, but "sense of occasion" I hoped.

I observed that 2-3 folks in the room slept.I wanted to crash for a while, but I couldn't imagine missing witnessing history.Each India run was being cheered even at 7 am of a sleepless night and crazy superstitions began to creep in.People wouldn't move from seats, nature's calls were being ignored, some continued sleeping even when they weren't asleep.There was too much at stake and none of us wanted to mess up.

Since it was unchartered territory, even 30 needed off 4 overs was not a cakewalk, some believed..By then, I was already thinking about the celebrations.Cockiness? No..MSD's presence was reassuring..His body language,usually great,was even better that day..He badly wanted that Cup.We badly wanted that Cup..Want is difficult to teach.

The taming of Kulasekara eased tension in the room and everyone got ready to shout their lungs out.As MSD hit THAT 6 (with the twirl),everybody began hugging each other.I saw a couple of people in the room and a few more on TV, in tears..My eyes were a touch moist,not as much as I thought.
Watching MSD lifting the Cup,SRT being chaired around his beloved Wankhede gave me goosebumps.This was THE moment of our cricketing lives.15 years of cricketing worship and we had our Laddoo in front of us..It was precious.

After a few hours,I saw Virat Kohli's interview alone at home..His line about SRT "He has carried the burden of our country for 21 years..It is about time we carried him" was apt and appropriate..It was happy tears time,for sure.We are World Champions now and no one can take it away from us for a further 4 years..2011 will be India's year at the World Cup,forever..Unprecedented high!!

Despite all criticism from rumor mongers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has firmly established himself in the pantheon of Indian greats. He, along with Kirsten, has changed the belief in the team..He might fail occasionally, but let us not doubt the man's intention/passion and keep faith..As someone said "There are captains everywhere, but MSD is not a captain..He is a LEADER".

And as Morgan Freeman said in Invictus, "This country is hungry for greatness"...