Euphoria ! Bliss! Unparalleled joy! Bonheur ! Felicidad! 11 people on the ground made 1.2 billion people in the country and 1.6 billion people around the world feel all this and more with their stupendous performance in the World cup and specially, in the final.
The final lived up to its billing of being a humdinger between 2 sub-continent teams on a pitch that was tailor made for both teams - a great batting track that took a bit of spin. The match started on a controversial note with no one sure what happened at the toss. If India had lost the game, many would have surely pointed fingers at the toss. Nevertheless, Sangakara won the toss and batted first. The start favored the Indians with Lanka tottering at 60/2 in the 18th over but what everyone witnessed after that was a thorough masterclass performance from probably the most elegant batsman in the World right now - Mahela Jayawardena. I couldn't but help but marvel at the way he caressed the bowl with delightful touch and wrist work on his way to what looked like a match winning century. Mahela's Mahila(his wife, bad joke but not mine!) asking him to stay at the crease after he reached his 50 was an endearing sight and he turned out to be an obedient husband, much to the chagrin of every Indian! As Ian Chappell pointed out, he batted as if he wanted to protect the cover of the ball. The Indian bowling , including the joint leading wicket taker,incomparable Zaheer Khan suffered at the hands of this master and his students. Sri Lanka set up a very very challenging total with 63 coming off the last 5 overs. 275 was the target. A target that had never been chased in any World cup final.The highest total that was successfully chased at the Wankhede under lights was 227. Add the pressure to that and 275 probably looked like a gargantuan 300. Any other match, any other final , this would have been a winning total but not today! 33,000 fans in the stadium prayed and a billion prayed outside the stadium for a Tendulkar century and an Indian win . The former didn't happen but the latter did!
Malinga looked fierce and snapped Sehwag and the God himself, Sachin. Nervousness reached its peak. No finger nail left on any finger. People shifting around nervously to find their "positions" to make sure that the stars were happy with the Indian chase. There were still 5 recognized batsmen. There was Rajni in the stadium that allayed fears of millions of Indians!Add Aamir to that and a cricket fan said you cannot lose when both of them are in the stadium!
Cometh the man, Cometh the hour. There were 2 of them in this case for India. First, the bicycle loving( my friend calls him a bicycle coz' he keeps jumping out of the crease and doesn't know when to stop running!) Gautam Gambhir, whose every over first ball charge worked along with Virat "goggle" Kohli. They ran very hard between the wickets and played with cool heads that belied their age and experience. The Lankan attack looked confused, even the ever reliable Murali struggling to bowl well, slightly aided by the dew. Second, was our very own charismatic, master strategist, the biggest gambler of the team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni who walked in after Kohli fell. People were surprised because they expected Yuvi, the man of the hour to walk in. Dhoni was short of runs, was criticized for his batting, was completely out of sorts with less than 160 runs in the tournament.
Not for nothing is he the most respected cricketer in the country after Tendulkar. He stamped his authority on the match with a fantastic, fabulous, brilliant, outstanding knock. Leading from the front just got a new meaning altogether! He ran fast, looked dehydrated, didn't give up, ran even faster, showed his emotion just once, hit the ball harder than anyone, had an offside helicopter shot and finally ended the game with a massive six.
Both Gambhir and Dhoni were fantastic and led India to a World Cup victory after 28 years. The scenes that followed were hysterical, fans went nuts, the players ran all around (except Munaf!) Insane SMSes followed - one being "Anhoni ko honi kar de, honi ko unhoni, ek jagah jab jama ho teeno, rajani, ghajani aur Dhoni!!" Sachin went around on the victory lap on his teammates' shoulders. Kohli said "Sachin carried the nation's hopes for 21 years, its time we carry him". Dhoni was as frank as ever at the post match conference even admonishing Gambhir for getting out on 97! As Dhoni lifted the World Cup and the champagne flowed, the heart of every Indian sang "Maa, Tujhe Salaam"! People flooded the streets with gay abandon, fireworks lit up the April sky, strangers celebrated wildly with each other, danced and shouted at traffic junctions high fiving one and all who went by. The celebrations continued and will continue(rightly so!) for ages to come. The pictures of the Indian cricket team holding aloft the cup that mattered the most will be etched forever in memory. Its also an Ugadi/Gudi Padwa gift to people celebrating these festivals.
Finally,Dhoni for President ????? I think he will be a super duper president if and when he becomes one!! Bharat mata ki jai!!! Celebrate India! Jai ho!