I had a terrible dream in which I was a die-hard cricket fan and rather enjoying it. No, just kidding. Anyway, isn’t it funny when a self-confessed non-cricket-fan keeps on harping about cricket? Touché. But trust me, it isn’t my fault. Indian cricket team has to be blamed. They have been AMAZING and surprised me and millions of my fellow countrymen (who are all bona-fide-cricket-fans) with their recent performance. Last night, they did something exceptional by defeating Sri Lanka in Mumbai to win the Cricket World Cup final. After exactly 28 long years.
Cricket is synonymous with Indian subcontinent but when it comes to CWC, even India never had a decent fill. We won it way back in ’83 so it’s almost as if it never happened. I mean, of course, the legacy is always there but we suffer from collective amnesia. Victory has to be repeated again and again to register into our blank memory. And frankly, we had to win this time to generate a new cycle of history, a new history instead of the old one. And history it was that was created last night.
I’m sure not many adhered to their usual bedtime after the match ended. It was time to celebrate and prolong it. Firecrackers were reminiscent of Diwali. Or should I add, a national Diwali instead of the religious one. People were out on the street high-fiving strangers and hugging as if they were waiting for each other since ‘83. It is like the sports version of Fall of Berlin Wall or something. This victory is overwhelming. Euphoria is not the word. You can’t explain such emotions where you want to cry because you can’t deny the significance of being alive and to witness it right in front of your own eyes.
To top it all, Dhoni ended the match in style with a spectacular six that is fated to be part of cricket folklores. Before the climax, Sachin got out without getting his much prophesized 100th century and Gambir missed his by mere 3 runs. Yuvi and Kohli convinced us that Indian team is not a one-man-army anymore. It’s a team now. Good for us. The bowlers did a good job, too.
On the Sri Lankan side, Sangakkara proved why he, along with Dhoni, is the coolest captain-wicketkeeper-batsman in the world. Muralitharan’s noteworthy comeback from retirement fell a little short of ultimate glory. As usual, Jayawardane displayed his eminence with bat. And Malinga, well, we better not talk about him. I’ve got no issues with his hairdo as he doesn’t sledge nor pretend to be haughty. He was the best bowler in the Lankan squad and made Sehwag limp on a duck and Sachin walk with just 18 runs. On a side note, as a kid, my bowling style was similar to his. My peers thought it wasn't appropriate. And thus a promising career ended prematurely.
Gary Kirsten has to be mentioned. He was cool, composed and methodical. He doesn’t harbor any desire to be the cynosure and last night was his final assignment as India’s coach. The lap of honour said it all. He will be sorely missed.
For the moment, it doesn't matter whether you're a cricket fan or not. Being an Indian will suffice. At least it’s working for me. My dour dad who has fond memories of ’83 win was speechless and letting triumph sink in. Besides, this is what cricket is all about in India. Whatever we witnessed on the TV as well as outside will stay etched in our minds.
Folks I met today on the streets are jubilant and you don’t even need common sense to sense their sense of achievement. Everyone seems too happy to be true. The upside is they are not sad. The downside is this too shall pass. But before it does, this weekend is going to last forever.