Saturday, April 2, 2011

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 India Celebration

India: Cricket is a game that makes us forget. Politics, pressures, joys, sorrows, hurdles, achievements, glory and failure of our lives are paused and kept in abeyance as the nation unites to live just one reality- the sight of the Indian cricket team playing a World Cup final.
1983 to 2011 is a 28 year time span. Sepia-tinted memories of those over 35 or realistically over 40 have put everything that came in between, including another final at Jo berg in 2003 which India lost, into shade. Somehow, and from somewhere there is a nation’s gut feel that the miracle of 1983, when India became champions at Lords, will become the “I told you” script of 2011, at Wankhede.

The surge of the crowds waving the tricolor rushing from the nursery end of Lords towards the long room, chasing the Indian players, the youngish Kapil Dev and a gangly Mohinder Amarnath with a moustache, with the trophy and a nation united, with its Gross Domestic Happiness soaring.
This world cup has been about happiness. From prince to struggler, from lover to loafer, from divas to doctors, India has supported this team with a foundation of hope. And joy.

If the team of 1983 was a superb unit and not just a collection of individuals, team 2011 is a superb unit but playing and praying for the triumph of one very special individual- Sachin Tendulkar. From the first match against Bangladesh at Dhaka till the last against Pakistan at Mohali, Team India has been desperate to say thank you to Sachin in his last World Cup, to give this man the last critical flicker of glory that needs to adorn a crown that no one in cricket will probably wear.

Indian fans, a collection of temperamental mavericks, have celebrated like mad but held back just a bit lest any untoward reaction to a bad game or a decision tars the overall effort. Right now, there is no existential conflict, only the calm of a monk who knows his prayer beads will do the job.
From 1983 to 2011, Indian cricket has seen many heroes and some villains, but the nation has had just one cricketing God. If cricket was just a bat and ball game where test matches and ODI’s had to be won, the collective heart of the nation wouldn’t have been on surrender mode to this game and to this team. And as we go into the final, to this man yet again.

For Sachin Tendulkar, tomorrow’s final is a script ordained by a greater God. A World Cup final in his hometown. His challenge will be as much to keep the crowds at bay as much as to engage them. Greg Chappel, not one of India’s most loved coaches, in a interview to The Guardian, London, before he finished his assignment said “It is an unnerving experience to drive out of stadiums and see the streets lined with people from all walks of life, particularly those from poorer communities whose only glimpse of the team would be as the bus flashes past, and to see their faces light up. That happens here every day with this team. Sachin Tendulkar, for example, is still the one who is most in demand and the way in which he just copes serenely with it is a lesson to us all. You know he gives what he can but he has learned that there is a limit. So he gives that much and then has to shut himself down.”

Sachin and all of Mahendra Singh Dhonis boys need to shut themselves down today as they play Sri Lanka, an amazing opponent. Shut out even 1983. But 1983 won’t shut them out. The nation will cry with all the passion at its command

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