Posted on 03-04-2011
Filed Under (Sports) by Rashtrakut

The cricketing gods have smiled on India.  Twenty-eight years after a huge upset won them their first world cup, India regained the trophy on Saturday after a thrilling and competitive win over Sri Lanka.   It has been many years since I watched a complete one-day international cricket match, but the adrenaline rush from watching the Indian victory eased my bleary eyed exhaustion from watching the game through the night.

India’s world cup victory in 1983 is my earliest memory of watching cricket on television.  Unfortunately at the age of eight I was unable to stay awake through the late hours to watch Kapil’s Devils shock the cricketing world by upsetting favorites and defending champions West Indies.  In 2003 (the last time I managed to watch a complete game), an Indian team that was probably the second best team in the world came up short against defending champions Australia.

This world cup was different.  India entered as one of the favorites and after a forgettable first round brushed aside Australia (which won the last 3 world cups) and national rival Pakistan to make the finals.  Sri Lanka was a legitimate contender and I had every intention sitting through this game.  Yet when Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed early in India’s run chase leaving India dangling at 31-2, a familiar sense of despair that every Indian cricket fan has experienced through the years reappeared.

Yet this is a different Indian cricket team that does not fold at the first sign of adversity.  The fielding had been phenomenal during Sri Lanka’s batting (normally not an Indian strength), and now the Indian batsmen kept their cool gathering steady runs in singles and doubles (eschewing the riskier crowd-pleasing boundaries).  They gradually sucked the oxygen out of the Sri Lankan team which desperately varied permutations of bowlers to get a breakthrough.  In the end Indian captain M. S. Dhoni emphatically sealed the win (see video below) by knocking Sri Lankan bowler Nuwan Kulasekara for a six, igniting raucous celebrations around India and the Indian diaspora.

The beaming smile on the face of legend Sachin Tendulkar (video below from the 3:00 mark) who played in his sixth world cup (1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007 & 2011) showed what the win meant to him.   The Indian players celebrated by carrying him around the stadium on their shoulders and lavished praise on him afterwards (video below from the 6:50 mark). Teammate Virat Kohli summed up India’s feelings towards its icon the most succinctly (at the end of the clip below):

“He has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It is time we carried him on our shoulders.”

 

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A friend commented today on the coincidence of rising nations obtaining validation of their rise by success in the sporting arena.   After years of futility in the emotional heart of the cricketing world, a billion people in an increasingly confident nation are celebrating the culmination of their recent cricket resurgence.  And the greatest batsman of our time finishes (probably) his last world cup as a champion.  

Congratulations India, congratulations Dhoni, congratulations Tendulkar. Chak de India!!!

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