Tuesday, April 5, 2011

THE WIN IS SINKING IN

The last 2 days have been surreal. So much so that this is my fourth attempt to write a blog after India's win... and after deleting the first 3 drafts, I have decided that I will publish this one even if it does not really explain the things that are in my head.

I will go through the thoughts that erupted in my head as the day went by - the day being 2nd April 2011!

After almost a sleepless night, I got up unusually early and read everything that Cricinfo and other blogs that I follow had to offer. There was no way of getting back to sleep (which had been less even in the run up to the finals), so I thought I might as well get up and be ready in the lucky t-shirt that I wear for every India match.


Yes, God really was with us!
On the previous day, I had seen the weather forecast for this match and read that there will be wind (or rather, breeze) of 14 - 16 kmph from the west. When I had read this, I was of the opinion that Sreesanth should get a chance as the breeze will be from the direction of the sea and the moisture in that sea air will help him more than any other bowler. In fact, this also made me a bit wary of how Kulasekara would perform, for he can get some very good swing when there is assistance.

B
ut when the telecast began, and Harsha Bhogle had a chat with those present at the Wankhede Stadium, I realised that there was no breeze at all. Not one bit! The shirts and ties of the men there were not moving an millimeter. And my thoughts changed immediately. In these conditions, R Ashwin was a shoo in for me.

W
hen the toss happened, it was frustrating. But what surprised me was that even MS Dhoni showed his frustration. There was a very perfunctory shake of hands with Sangakkara before he turned his back to him in what was obvious show of dissatisfaction. That kind of convinced me that Dhoni must have won the first toss, but as it later turned out, it was Sangakkara indeed who had won both the tosses. So all well here!

I
 was disappointed slightly by the fact that India would have had to bowl first, yet confident that India will be able to restrict Sri Lanka to less than 260, a score which I thought India should be able to chase keeping in my mind the occasion.

Z
aheer Khan started brilliantly. Even Sreesanth started fairly, despite his second ball no-ball. When Sehwag caught Tharanga, for a moment, I was under the impression that the ball had reached him on the bounce, and then I saw Zaheer celebrating with his arms spread. And I celebrated too, because the statistically best opening partnership of the World Cup had been broken.

D
ilshan briefly threatened to shine, before he succumbed to the pressure created due to tight bowling and amazing fielding. Fielding! Oh my word! To see Yuvraj Singh make that flying stop off a Dilshan drive through the off-side was a throwback to the era of Ganguly's captaincy. It almost felt as if we had the younger version of Yuvraj Singh back in the team, and it was great to watch that.

W
hen the Sangakkara-Jayawardene partnership was flourishing, I felt that Dhoni should have brought back Zaheer Khan. His famous knuckle ball works a lot better with left-handers and Sangakkara was definitely looking the more dangerous of the two then. Eventually, he was unlucky to fall to a long hop from Yuvraj Singh, who again bowled better than what is expected out of a fifth bowler.

I
 was a bit disappointed to see Zaheer Khan leak runs at the end... moreover because he was genuinely bowling bad balls for that period. There were too many length balls and they were taken full toll of. A target of 275 did make me wary, but there was still confidence in the team that had chased tougher targets without a full-strength team over the past one year.

D
uring that short 20-minute break, I had texted a friend that in my opinion, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gamhir and Virat Kohli would be the main men in the chase. Later on, I also added Yuvraj Singh to the list. I chose SRT for the occasion, GG for his brilliant play against the spin, VK for his tremendous record in chases, and Yuvi for the obvious reason - his current form and confidence!

S
ehwag's dismissal disappointed me, but did not dishearten me. I was not expecting much from him due to his poor second-innings record, but a contribution greater than 0 would definitely have helped! Sachin's dismissal shook me... not the confidence of a win, but the realisation that it was not exactly going to be a fairytale if we got there. Though it was a tense situation then, I still had the confidence in the team.

T
he next 4 batsmen vindicated my confidence in them, and each one played a knock to remember. Gambhir was brilliant. It was a solid knock paced beautifully. He was given a reprieve when Kulasekara did not catch a difficult chance when he was on 30, but what Gambhir did after that was very impressive.

G
ambhir loves playing the inside out shot over extra cover to spinners, and Sangakkara had set up a trap for him there by placing a very straight-ish deep extra cover, along with a long off. After getting that reprieve, he did not attempt that shot again even once, even though he must have been very tempted to given the fact that he faced three off-spinners. He even played a conventional sweep, and I don't remember seeing him play that too many times in his entire career. He changed his game a little bit to suit the occasion, and he deserves all the accolades for that!

V
irat Kohli continued to show cool head and maturity in a tricky chase under pressure. Even though he was beaten on that ball, but his dismissal was still more on account of a brilliant work by a Sri Lankan rather than him making a mistake. I would have to see him get a 50, just as I would have loved to see Gambhir getting his 100, but well, I am satisfied with the World Cup!

W
hen Kohli was dismissed, I felt a little wobbly for the reasons that have now been discussed and dissected everywhere. I was uncertain about Yuvraj Singh coming in to face three off-spinners. And I was also uncertain about the running between the wickets of Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh together, who had had a series of mishaps in the game against Australia before Gambhir lost his wicket.

So I was quite okay to see MS Dhoni coming out to bat despite his bad form. A couple of hours later, he proved to the world that that particular move was a masterstroke from him, and played a very mature knock to guide India home. Yuvraj's assistance was also very good. There was a point after India had taken the batting powerplay when Yuvraj played 4 dot balls from Malinga. That was the moment Sri Lanka would have felt that Yuvraj is susceptible to a rash stroke. But he very coolly managed a 2 and a 1 from the next two balls to finish the over, and India knew that the Cup will soon be ours.



That winning six brought about different emotions in me. Watching alone at my house, I gave Dhoni and the team a long round of applause. But what was really touching to see was the emotions that came out then. Yuvraj in tears, unashamedly in tears! Harbhajan sobbing uncontrollably. Dhoni's twirl of the bat and then hopping madly to get a stump before Yuvraj could reach him. Kohli, Raina and Yusuf Pathan carrying Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders around the ground. The joy that was so clearly etched in Gary Kirsten's face. And then the smile of Sachin Tendulkar himself. Those were images that I am going to remember forever, and when I say forever, I mean it!

Ashish Nehra - awkward bowling action, awkward victory celebration!
After having fantasised about this moment for almost over a year now, I just did not know how to react, and I guess the members of Team India felt the same! I felt proud to be witnessing this moment, and not just proud because I am a fan of Indian cricket team, no! That would kill my joy!

I
 was proud of that moment in Indian cricket because I have supported Indian cricket team even through its darkest hours, like the World Cup 2007. I have had faith in these men and boys, and I have always wished for them to perform. There have been some players I have liked more than others, a lot of decisions from the captain that I have criticised, and I will continue doing so. I have and will continue pointing out shortcomings of certain players, and loopholes in our team. But through all this, I have never stopped supporting the team through its turbulent times, nor will I ever do so. I take pride in this fact!

F
or me, this triumph was also a vindication of the faith shown by me and many other cricket fans in our cricket team when there was criticism heaped upon them. We believed in our team when men like Steve Waugh and Allan Border tipped Sri Lanka to win the finals. We believed in our team when men like Dean Jones said that "Dhoni must be dreaming if he thinks that he can win the World Cup with a team like this". He has not been heard from since the night of 2nd April 2011.

D
arren Gough had said after the Ashes win that England can beat India any day of the week. We will continue to believe in our team when we tour England later this year. We will continue to believe in our team when England visit India after that. We will continue to believe!

T
hank you, Team India for giving the nation this wonderful victory. I place it as the biggest win in the history of Indian cricket for two reasons: A) It was achieved in the claustrophobic pressure of enormous expectations, whereas the 1983 triumph as well as the 2007 World Twenty20 triumph came when there was nothing expected from the team; B) I was born in 1988 - unable to witness the glory of 1983, so this will remain, to me, India's greatest cricketing triumph till date.

A
s I run out of thoughts, I would just like to say how glad I am to see the Indian team celebrate the win, and how overwhelming it is to see, as his fan, Sachin Tendulkar get a chance to lift that trophy. The respect that he has from his teammates was wonderful to see. Virat Kohli became the darling of a nation when he delivered the quote of the World Cup: "He (Sachin Tendulkar) has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years; it was time we carried him." Who cares about what Imran Khan had said earlier - that if he were Tendulkar, he would be embarrassed by all this mention of "We want to win it for Sachin" dialogue. To hear this statement coming from a man who talked only about his personal ambitions and failed to mention even a word about his team in his victory speech as a World Cup winning captain in 1992 is a blasphemy. It was also great to see how Sachin Tendulkar celebrated the win with his fan, and read about how the team's family time in the dressing room.

W
ell done, Sri Lanka and congratulations, India!


10 comments:

Leela said...

I have written 3 drafts since my MSD post following India's victory and I am still struggling to find words!

Shridhar Jaju said...

Hi Leela! Like I said, I had deleted 3 drafts before writing this one. If I were to give you a suggestion, then it would be that just write. Forget everything else and just write whatever comes into your head, because no matter what words you use, they will never be enough to describe this win!

deekay said...

on the night of April 2, after the famous victory, I could not sleep.....was just going through cricinfo articles and other cricket blogs, but suddenly there were no enough updates....everything seemed to have gone in a slow motion mode.........whatever experts say....all of us know that this sri lankan team cant win without dilshan, sanga or mahela playing...we were lucky that the only new player who had this ability to win matches (may be on his own) Angelo Mathew got injured in the semis vs kiwis.....even though playing sreesanth may have proved too costly in the end, the TEAM pulled it through....

i had always pondered over the fact about playing Mongia in 2003 and benching Anil, also winning the toss and bowling at that time.....and now this team just proved that all those things dont matter if you have a team of matchwinners...

This is one of the greatest achievement by Indian Cricket Team..........why??

because the pressure was always on India :P.............he he cheeerzzzzz.....:-)

Golandaaz said...

Having watched the 1983 win, I have to disagree with you on this being India's greatest achievement.

I agree on one front, the pressure this time was amazing and when the team broke down after the win, it only showed how much pressure they were under and how badly they wanted to win. But this win was built on the 1983 win. That win changed Indian cricket forever and brought in so much new money that cricket became profession. After that India being able to find the right men to win the world was a matter of prudent management. It was bound to happen. The 2011 win is a story of a well strategized, well executed plan

1983 was a fairy tale. It was innocent and we beat the best, the meanest and the most fearsome team at their peak. Not an Australia in decline, not a Pak in turmoil, not a SL with an ageing Murali

tracerbullet007 said...

Well written, Shridhar!
Thats why instead of writing too much, I decided to upload pics and a couple of video clips in my post-final post, so that I can go through it every night, before I go to sleep!
AS for Dean Jones, he was the first person I remembered after the win...funny how they never follow up after that...

Govind Raj said...

Shridhar, as I had discussed with you of FB earlier, trust me and trust Gol... The Greatest moment in Indian Cricket was achieved on 25 June 1983. That day, Cricket as a religion was born. The God appeared on the scene 6 winters later.

This is a 'Magnificent' moment and will be equally cherished and so will all those Test wins.

But 1983 was the most defining moment and will forever remain so. To quote from the movie '3 Idiots'...

Who was the first man to scale the Moon ?

Great Post !

Shridhar Jaju said...

@deekay, yes indeed! A team of match winners can make anything happen.

Gol and Govind, like I have already written - one of the reasons why I regard this as the greatest win in Indian cricket is solely due to the fact that I was not there to witness 1983. Of course, this is just my opinion swayed by the emotions of 2nd April. I know 25th June 1983 was a landmark day in Indian history, and shall always remain so. But of all the future World Cup wins that India may or may not have, this one will be the most special for me.

@tracer, I doubt if Dean Jones will ever follow up on that comment. And if India win in England, I doubt Darren Gough will follow up on his previous comments. It takes a lot to admit that you were wrong. That is why I respect Dhoni a lot, and don't give a damn about these 'experts'.

Siddharth said...

Same feeling here. I could not sleep on that day. Was reading all the articles and watching news channels. My wife told me crazy when she saw alone smiling reading all the articles. It was a sense of satisfaction.

There were tears and smile both at same time. I also will not forget this moment in my life time. It a dream come true for all us and specially for SRT. All the scenes after the match were stirring.

Nishant said...

Shridhar
I know this must not have been an easy one to write about. I just put random thoughts in to my blog cause wasn't able to sleep. And then kept adding a point here and there.

Shridhar Jaju said...

Sid bro, I can just about imagine the scene! ;-)

Nishant, I was lacking sleep for days before the finals. But the day after that (on Sunday), I just slept. And slept. And slept.

Woke up late on Sunday and slept for 4 more hours in the afternoon. It was a satisfying sleep, with a smile of contentment!

SAVE OUR TIGER!