This is the first time, in almost 6 years of existence of Clearway, that I have felt compelled to write three consecutive posts on Cricket. So, at the outset, let me emphasise that this is not a Cricket Blog. But, the occasion is such that 2nd April 2011 is to be etched in Indian minds forever! India winning the World Cup was never a serious prospect, perhaps, till a few weeks back. And I, personally, did not pay focussed attention to World Cup 2011, even as the Flagship event of world cricket kicked off in February. And now, here is the Indian team, beaming across the world with the prestigious Trophy in its hand, pride and joy writ all over its face!
People of my generation have grown up listening to stories of the Indian Cricket team winning its first ever prized treasure, way back in 1983. And given the swift pace of the modern world, 1983 would have semblances of the pre-historic era, especially to the cricket-loving current generation of the country. "Cricket-loving" is an under-statement. In a buzzing nation coloured with splashes of boisterous celebrations and emotional festivities, cricket has occupied unrivalled centre-stage, not just in the sporting arena, but in the entire gamut of entertainment and beyond. Cricket is an inevitable part of life for the hundreds of millions, who have grown up listening intensely to radio commentaries, watching matches in black-and white television sets, and playing the game in its numerous forms at schools, in the neighbourhood playgrounds, along roadsides and by the beaches and street corners. For those of us who have vague memories associated with India winning the 1983 World Cup, the ultimate possession that we could dream of, as a nation, is the symbol of unrivalled global superiority in the world of cricket, in an event that is celebrated once in four years. And last night was, by no means, just another night. It was History! A day that, going by the records, happens only once in 28 years!
What MS Dhoni and his team have achieved, by that standard, is phenomenal! They have not just won a competition. It's not just about emerging victorious in a tournament. It is not a matter of achieving the first place in international rankings. The deal is not about India beating Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on the trot. Team India have pierced the senses, made their way through innumerable Indian minds and have filled a void that has constantly existed in the subconscious. They have made the zealous followers of the sport, who have had cricket ingrained in their elements, realise themselves and their burning desire for something intangible and unexplainable - "Yes, this is what we have wanted all the while!" The fanatics of Indian cricket may well take a few days to realise the depths of what occurred at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, on a Saturday that they have been waiting for in what seems an eternity. It's the feeling of parched land, riddled with self-doubts and inconsistencies, and only powered by a faint ray of hope for some divine mercy, suddenly being flooded with a torrent of celestial bliss by the Gods. And those who grace this religion that cuts across human divides, reign supreme as Demigods!
Immense in his stature as portrayed by mortals like us, stands tall a man, clad in blue, his heart buoyant with child-like enthusiasm, his face bubbling with charm, his name radiating the charisma of his personality and worshipped by his followers as the supreme among the Demigods. Still, a mortal that he in reality is, he has been part of as many as six of the teams that have set out on a hunt to bring the famed cup back to the country, ever since it slipped out of the Nation in 1987. The 2nd of April, 2011 was, again, destined to be the day that his thirst for the one recognition has remained elusive for more than two decades of his dominance of Indian, and world cricket, was finally quenched. Today, the dream of Sachin Tendulkar, a sportsman with an astounding array of records, with a deep passion for the sport and a quest for the ultimate prize, stands fulfilled. It was a fitting tribute paid by the next generation in the squad to the Little Master, the young battalion who would have grown up motivated by, watching and learning from him on Television and in person, to carry him around the stadium on their shoulders and parading their pride and devotion to their Living legend.
What Dhoni, guided by Gary Kirsten, has infused in the team is immense confidence in their ability to perform as one unit. That new-born self-belief would make them question history - why should it be an event that happens only once in 28 years? Is that an unwritten rule, or have they been deprived of the World Cup for almost three decades by their own oblivious disorientation? Well, that is something that the Indian cricket team would work out in the coming days. For now, they have treated their followers and fans like never before. The next few days would be spent by the common man in hazed disbelief of the intensity of what has just hit him unannounced, before unabashed pride kicks in, and he declares to the world: "We are the Champions!"