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Cricket World Cup 2011 is ours! Bowled, Caught , and Locked!

As I sit down to write this, it’s close to almost 48 hours since Dhoni & Co. laid their hands on the gleaming trophy of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. 28 long years, it took for the trophy to makes its return back to INDIA, since our last win in 1983 (leaded by Kapil Dev). My parents tried hard to paint a picture of that moment, but it was seven seas across at Lords, England then. So even they could not have been encompassed by the hodgepodge of emotions that was felt by billions on the night of 2nd April 2011.

02nd April 2011. 2:00 pm IST. INDIA started the day with high optimism. They were everyone's clear favorites. Consistent. Fearless. Vigilant. Playing on home ground, they could count on 30k+ people cheering, motivating them to play on. It's a huge booster all that cheering, 'Jai Ho', ‘Chak De’ chants, it injects intensity in the player, keeps the momentum from dipping.

"The day before the final we knew were going to win. We actually even spoke into it. That we were going to win this thing. There was never any doubt" - Coach Gary Kirsten

The start was far from what anyone had expected. A toss (or tosses) mix-up, Lanka batting first, impeccable, bewildering fielding almost offset by bowling muddles by India, skepticism on captaincy for bringing in Sreesanth *smug face*, excellent run-rate by SL, woeful over-rate by India, dawdling India’s batting inning take-off, and eventually with Sachin & Sehwag dismissal by the 6th over, enveloped Wankhede.. no no the city... nooo rather the country with a deafening silence, stopping heartbeats in its wake. It was close to a decisive moment for fans as well as the team. Few began to leave the stadium. Networking sites were abuzz with disappointments, loyalists tried to pep things up. Some jokes happened,
Batting order showed slight promise with Gambhir, Yuvraj, Raina in the waiting. Afterall, the team had been strong thru the tournament. Dhoni’s entry at 5th position instead of Yuvraj led to puzzled expressions, more visible aggravations, livid, upset fans questioning the change & losing faith in India’s victory almost instantly. In a sort of miracle that you see only in films, at bullock’s pace, things began to improve. All was not lost, just as yet. Slowly, steadily, hope was giving way to fiery insanity, giving way to manic desire; Gambhir stood his own, ably backed by Dhoni, (who looked evidently distraught in pain). He wasn’t giving up – not as yet! He had a point to prove – he confessed later.
And then the final moment – a climax so indulgent, had it been a movie, it would have set the cash registers on fire. Mahendra Singh Dhoni poised, appearing as cool, as supremely self-assured as he was when he strode down the field unexpectedly earlier that evening. The bat twirl, the crackling noise where it met the ball, the freeze, the sweep of the eyes – frenzied eyes of wild deliberation, the realization, the satisfaction, the smirk, the smile. It was over. The stadium erupted, waves of blue like an ocean in its most over-powering glory!

I am not as obsessed with Cricket as many I know. I don’t watch every match that India plays. I didn’t watch India-Pakistan semis in its entirety. However, this one was different. I sat in rapt attention watching every millisecond of the Men in Blue in action. I tweeted fervently, just like some others, hoping our combined wishes would translate into positive vibes and miraculously reach the team. 

and some more...

I whispered secret prayers, kept my fingers crossed, didn’t move a muscle when things began looking positive. I desperately wanted India to win. 

Not as a patriotic, Not as a cricket enthusiast, but because I truly believed the team had put in their best. I hoped they would win it for themselves, for their dreams, for their efforts, for their dedication for the sport, they revere. But mostly, I wanted TEAM INDIA to win for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Mahi-Man as he is fondly known by his most ardent admirer (fan is too cheesy for my liking) Harneet Singh. The man with the Midas touch. The man who led by example. The man, who throughout, was abrasive about Team India’s win, was willing to take responsibility for decisions, was prepared to take risks, to admit his mistakes in front of billions and yet reticent much to hand over the trophy to the young ‘uns while he sidelined to a corner for the team picture.      

Dhoni: "I took a quite few decisions tonight, if we hadn't won I would have been asked quite a few questions: Why no Ashwin, Why sreesanth. Why no Yuvraj, Why did I bat ahead?! That pushed me and motivated to do well. I had a point to prove to myself.”

Emotions continue to be on a high. MSD is the new substance that’s given us Indians new found verve, exhilaration, determination, most importantly the GUTS to have faith in self, regardless of what anyone else wants to say or believe. When Team India lifted the cup that evening, there couldn’t have been a single true-blue Indian who didn’t have moist eyes. Tears flowed on-field as much as id did off-field. Master-Blaster Sachin cried, Bhajji cried along, some others bawled louder, there was no stopping, pride in their eyes, more-so in their heart, they embraced, cheered, cherished the moment, while millions across the globe shared it with them.

“It is the biggest moment in our life that we get to pick up the World Cup and have the entire world smiling along with us. It doesn’t get any better than this. Couldn’t have asked for anything more” – Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Revelers hugged, congratulated, hi-fied random strangers, traffic was chock-a-block, no one was in a hurry to get anywhere. Streets were lined with pedestrians, waving the tri-colour, dancing, chanting Team India’s praises, no one complained, everyone just wanted to be a part of it, part of the celebrations that went way into the night, that would be reminiscent at get-togethers, reunions years later. Choked with gamut of emotions, visuals, interviews, bytes of the team as being replayed (the first of many re-runs) on television gives me goosebumps.  

"We wanted everyone to feel that they were making contribution even though the statistics might say they weren't making a big contribution. That was crucial. It wasn't just one superstar. Everyone did their bit" - Coach Gary.

Congratulations to Team India, Coach Gary Kirsten, Support Staff, Selectors, Board, families and everyone who had the smallest contribution to making this glorious dream a reality.

A lot has happened since Saturday night. Rewards; Honors are still being thrown in, photo shoot of the team is being planned, preps for the prez's party for the team is taking place as I type. Blogs have been posted. pics/videos shared/liked/commented on Facebook. Team India will move on & scatter away to play the IPL in a week (sadly, against each other). Even as the trophy is wrapped in a controversy, no one seems to care much. Team India had a date with destiny that night. And they kept it. Team India are CHAMPIONS. Enough said.

The entire country is in frenzy. It will continue to be for the next 4 years atleast. Till then, we must pick up the fond memories from this World Cup and preserve them. Before they fade away. Till the next World Cup victory. And hopefully the  next. And hopefully many more. 

And while you do so, let me go back & feast my eyes on Mahi's helicopter shot just once more! !

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