There are times when a few of my ‘not so cricket crazy’ friends ask – “How can a sport be so important to a country that it stops people from going to work and almost brings the entire nation to a halt”. I usually respond with a smile, frankly because i have no clue to the answer myself. Since i was a young boy, probably 6 years old, i have had this crazy obsession with the game, which has not faltered a bit, in spite of the trials and tribulations that Indian cricket has been through.
When i was young, my father used to tell me stories about the 1983 world cup – how the team qualified for the finals against all odds, and then how he turned off his radio set after India’s innings and then could not help himself and switched it on again and found India on the brink of a famous famous victory. The glint in his eyes and the expression on his face while narrating the story – priceless!!
Here is the thing with stories though, especially the unbelievable ones. If you have been a part of that story, and have witnessed it, you feel like telling it over and over again, and the spark in your voice never dies down. You want everyone to realize the importance of the moment when you witnessed a great thing happen, and you never get tired of it. On the contrary, if you were only 2 years old when the phenomenon happened, and have no memory of it, you would grow up looking for such a story around you and try to be a part of something that can be shared for generations to come.
My such moment has come…On April 2nd’2011, at around 11:00 pm in the evening, I was sitting with my hands folded and a prayer in my mind, in front of the television set, when the captain of the Indian Cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni the magnificent, used the pretty version of the much hyped “helicopter” shot to dispatch Nuwan Kulasekara over the long on boundary for a six. A special six that was too, for it won India the Cricket World cup, a moment that entire country had been waiting for. I shouted, hugged my wife, danced, and almost cried with excitement. The story I was looking for was here, and no one could have taken that moment from me for I was there, I witnessed it, I saw my team win the cricket world cup. Unbelievable feeling.
The wait was well worth it. The scenes of jubilation, the tears of joy in the eyes of the players, the hugs, the shouts, the fist pumping, the cheers from the Mumbai crowd, the victory lap, the lifting of the trophy, the flowing champagne…aaah…indeed the wait was well worth it…
I’ll keep it short and not write about the various moments of the game, the ups and the downs and so forth, because they are already permanently etched in our minds for the rest of our lives, but there were a couple of moments from the after match celebrations that just blew me away:
1. When Sachin Tendulkar was asked about his 22 year long wait before he could actually lay his hands on the ultimate prize, he said “22 years haan…I dint give up, did I??” Awesome awesome…everyone can take a cue from the great book that Sachin Tendulkar is.
2. When Virat Kohli was asked about the gesture of carrying Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulder around the stadium he replied “He has carried the burden of Indian cricket on his shoulders for 21 years, the least we can do is carry him on our shoulders”. Take a bow Virat Kohli…you are awesome.
There are lords of the game and then there kings of the game…but I can proudly say that the Indian cricket team has proven themselves to be the “Lord of the Kings”. The ultimate prize is ours, the ultimate feeling is ours…thanks Team India…we are immensely proud of you.
And now as i go back to basking in the glory of the victory, something that i have not been able to get over yet, probably wont get over it anytime soon, i have only one thing to say to the folks not yet around- “Be ready kids – daddy has a story to tell!!”
(Photo courtesy Cricinfo.com)