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World Champs – a fan’s dream come true!

Posted in Uncategorized by abhijeetrawle on April 2, 2011

Still very emotional after the greatest moment in India’s cricketing history. The sight of M S Dhoni unleashing fury in that one magnificent shot, the sight of his nonchalance as he hit that out of the park and just watched it go over the ropes like a megastar, Gary Kirsten raising his arms in ecstasy and Yuvraj and Sachin having a superemotional bro-hug…this is what an Indian cricket fan lives for. This is what we dreamt growing up – Our captain holding the world cup high

(courtesy: Cricinfo)

The mind can’t help going back to all those disappointments we witnessed growing up. When India last won the world cup, I was 5 months old. I have no memories of the ’87 Reliance cup either. The oldest cricketing memory was that of a look of dejection on everyone’s face in 1986 when Javed Miandad whacked Chetan Sharma for a six off the last ball of the match. That one memory left an incredible effect on the minds of Indian fans. We never thought we could beat Pakistan, we never thought we could be world beaters again…

Enter Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – sent from the heavens to make us believe again. A warrior that would single handedly battle the meanest of fast bowlers (a breed thats not the same anymore) on the bounciest of pitches and win the game. In Sachin we believed, and Sachin delivered. 92 world cup was a disappointment, but it gave us Sachin and it gave me  a great cricketing memory of India beating Pakistan. A game whose highlights I had videotaped (hard to explain what a VCR is to those born after 2000) and played every day before going to school. It also gave us the pain of losing by 1 run against the Aussies and watching Pakistan hold the most beautiful crystal trophy.

It has been a roller coaster ride after that with a few unforgettable moments like Prasad knocking off Amir Sohail’s timber, Sachin’s century against Kenya and the brutal assault against Pakistan in 2003. Then there were those memories – Kambli crying in the 96 semi finals and the fans burning down the Eden and Ponting smashing Zak, Srinath and the rest to all parts of Johannesburg. But things were changing in Indian cricket as all this happened. The lone ranger in 96 was now a part of what is Indian cricket’s best batting force – Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and India’s greatest match winner – Anil Kumble. Indian cricket also saw a new breed of cricketers, inspired by Sachin, who feared no one. But they too came close and fell at the last hurdle. If 2003 was a disappointment, 2007 was tragic. The sight of Dilhara Fernando finding a way past Sachin’s defense and a sobbing Rahul Dravid would haunt us fans for the next year.

But cometh the hour, and cometh the man – M S Dhoni – a long haired-axe wielding warrior who made a mockery of technique, India’s toughest son of a bitch, a remarkable leader, a man in such control of his emotions that he’s nonchalant in victory or defeat, a great observer of the game and a brilliant tactician (ask Kieron Pollard – that mid-off fielder ready waiting for a catch in the IPL 3 finals). With the T20 triumph, Dhoni announced his arrival as a leader. He went on to inherit a test squad which he took to the top of the sport (yet to lose a series as a captain) but his ODI squad, though extremely talented had its weaknesses. Its a squad with a mix of seniors who aren’t exactly agile in the field and youngsters with phenomenal talent but temperamental issues. But Dhoni made it work. He accepted the weaknesses and with Gary Kirsten worked on the strengths. Everything that they worked for and toiled for in the nets would ultimately come down to this world cup and this day in Mumbai…

31-2 chasing 275 and Sehwag-Sachin back in the pavilion, even Bejan Daruwala would have double checked his charts that predicted an Indian win. But if you want something really bad, the universe conspires to make it happen (never thought I’d quote Paulo Coelho or Shah Rukh Khan). This was Dhoni’s night, this was Dhoni’s world cup. If Tendulkar was sent from the heavens to achieve greatness and inspire a generation – Dhoni, a part of that generation, was sent to win and win with style. After the win, the entire team celebrated, Sachin couldn’t hide his emotions (I liked the message sent to Manjrekar – “we proved a point to those who doubted our abilities”), Yuvraj broke down and Bhajji was on cloud 9. But in all celebrations, the captain was missing. He let the team have their moment and soaked in the win from the sidelines. This is Dhoni’s India and I hope it remains Dhoni’s India for years to come! Tonight’s toast will be to my captain, to my idol Sachin Tendulkar and to the Men in Blue. Cheers!