The last few months kept springing unpleasant news for us. Scams being unearthed, unrest in East Asian countries, petrol prices rising again, natural disasters in Japan, the SENSEX constantly falling, speculations of below expectations Q4 results and many more. Amidst all this negativity, we witnessed something exceptionally pleasing; India won the 2011 ICC World Cup.
India had started as favourites for the Cup, and they made it amply clear that they wanted to win this World Cup for Sachin Tendulkar, but the momentum seemed to be losing steam as time progressed. Some great batting displays at the top of the order were all that seemed to be making the team hold on against the opposition. Middle and lower order collapses and a seemingly toothless bowling attack saw India lose to South Africa and just about hold out against England and Ireland. The batting let India down against West Indies also but the bowling seemed to be striking some sort of form. Fielding was nothing to write home about in most of these matches. India had comfortably made it to the quarter finals, but I felt they were staring down the barrel here as they had to face the World champions next.
However, we witnessed a different team India from the quarter finals onwards. India’s fielding went up by notches against every opposition, and the bowlers seemed to strike some form as well. For the 1st time in 12 years, the cricket world would witness a new world champion. After eliminating Australia, India performed very well against Pakistan under tremendous pressure to keep up the tradition of beating Pakistan in every World Cup match until date. Amir Khan was spot on when he said that India was facing 3 final viz. Australia, Pakistan and then the finalists. For the 1st time, a home team had made it to the finals of the World Cup. The toss did throw up some controversy and the Indians did seem dejected. However, none of this impacted India when they bowled and fielded like a team possessed. While batting, it was very reassuring to see the youth brigade stabilize the innings and then Dhoni silenced his critics by scoring when it counted the most. India looked like the Aussies did for so long – INVINCIBLE. After 28 long years for us, and for the 1st time for a team at its home venue, we are World Champions.
India’s efforts saw many of us Indians living a dream of feeling proud of having bagged the ultimate prize. The Indian team had stated they wanted to win the World Cup for Sachin, and they did. Not just the Indian cricket team, most of the country watching was also teary eyed as the fact started setting in. The team put up a brave face in all adverse conditions and almost every time came out on top. These last couple of months united all Indians, and the euphoria after victory can simply not be put into words. This World Cup has given us a lot to celebrate in these trying times. Forget the sarcasm, the criticism, the cynicism, match fixing allegations, etc. You guys did what you set out to do! You guys made us proud and made sure Sachin does not leave the game without the ultimate trophy. It is nice to see some people achieve what they promise, especially you promise to reach the very pinnacle. We are now no. 1 in Tests, and have won the T20 and the ICC Cricket World Cup. Dhoni and boys, take a bow! We love you!