Yes. Something I cringed for every 4 years. Prayed that I could see India win the World Cup when I was alive. And its here.
Its quite a common Indian trait to own something special that has happened. As in this case, I said "And its here". It sounds like I myself made it possible. Its not. But thats why I say we tend to own it. And why not?
One thing that binds the entire country. Cricket.
I am quite infamous for my boasting (did someone say Fudkya?). And here comes another. Being a pious Indian supporter, I have this tendency of supporting the team no matter what. While it was obvious during the league stages that we were far away from the great quality of cricket that we usually play, (and I knew this), I somehow still couldnt bitch about the team. After the South Africa game, I had boastfully written that this would be India's last defeat of the tournament which meant that we will win the Cup. Honestly, it was nothing more than a boast, sheer optimism for a lot of people. But I am like that. Someone will really need to convince me to bad mouth my country. And that someone has still not been conceived.
It was not the most ideal World Cup for me as a spectator. I was on leave during the 2nd week of the tournament wherein I caught the India-England and India-Ireland games but for the remainder I was a hassled individual. Working late in office and setting off early in the morning.
The first real sign of India gaining momentum was against the West Indies when we were going through the motions only to take 8 quick wickets to win and set up a mouth watering QF against 3 time defending champions Australia.
Back in office, having been aware that we have been set 261, I thought it will be a tough chase. When I left office, we were 5 down and we were still 70 odd runs adrift. I was going home in my car, one of those rare days when I get a car to office. I am a bit superstitious in the sense that I feel India does not play well when I am watching. Sounds absurd. So as soon as Dhoni was out, I decided I will drive ever so slowly so as to reach home after the match is over.
Sounds simple aint it? Far from it. Even after convincing myself to do so, I was so inquizitive trying to pick up signs on the road. With a TV shop frequenting me every now and then I was trying to make out things. A crowd of 10-12 people watching the game with great intensity. What does that mean? They are not even looking at each other. Does that mean we lost another wicket? A traffic signal had very few vehicles. The next had some more. Does that mean we lost a wicket and more people have switched off and come out? No. Please No. A lot of youngsters on the road. Why arent these guys watching the match? Another traffic signal. A Pulsar stands next to me. I want the 2 guys on this Pulsar to say something about the match. I will pay you guys. But say something. Not even a word about the match. This is killing me.
I drive for 40 minutes to reach Nimantran hotel (normally on a road as isolated as this day, it takes me 20 minutes to reach home) which is still 2 kms away. From my calculation, there are still 5-7 overs left in the game. Whats happening. I dont want to reach home and start crying if India has lost. I park my car outside Nimantran. And curiosity gets to me. I switch on my cell and head to cricinfo. 28 required of 35 balls with 3 boundaries in the last 7 balls and still just 5 down. Thats it. No more waiting. As I slam the first gear, Raina hits a SIX off Lee. I covered the last 2 kms in less than 2 minutes. And rushed home. Ravi Shastri exults "He has nailed it through the covers". Yuvi almost does his own version is the Sajdah midpitch. Raina embraces him and sparks off huge celebrations. Lots of things happen. Punter eats the humble pie and gives up captaincy. But more importantly, its India-Pakistan in the Semis. HUGE ... !!
Same old story. There is a mail circulated in office to assemble at 2:20 for the National Anthem. We get Poster Paints and color people's with the tri-color by lunchtime. People wearing India jerseys (those who had it). Others had to wear Blue atleast. I was one of them. National Anthem at 2:25. Goosebumps. Sehwag starts like a train on fire. Pakistan respond. Typical India-Pakistan match. They drop the GOD several times and finally when he goes for 85, there are some who celebrate. Wonder why? I ask them why are you celebrating. Pop comes the reply. "Come on. Be a patriot. He fell short of his century. We win." I smile sarcastically. But still hoping that it comes true. Anything for an Indian win.
The tension starts getting to me. I decide to play TT to release the tension. The TV is adjacent to the TT table. Hafeez and Akmal start briskly. When will the first wicket fall? Not with me watching the match. Well if its a hoodoo, then lets try it methinks. I rush upstairs. Shove my bat in the drawer and head home. This time I am glued to my cell.
43/0. Crap. This aint meant to be this easy. I fiddle around and almost drop my cell on the road. "Akma falls after brisk start" exclaims Cricinfo. We are in it. I reach home to find them at 52/1. Run rate was not bad. Shafiq and Hafeez look confident. Hafeez plays a T-20-final-Misbah shot and gets out. 2 down. 8 to go. I am not going anywhere. Shafiq and Younis start stitching a partnership. Why? Why? My demons are coming back to haunt me. I cant watch it anymore. There is a huge screen put up in the society. So I have to get away from that too. I force Biwi to come with me even though she wants to see the match. We walk for hardly 200 steps from the society gate and huge roar. Shafiq bites the dust and in some time Younis follows suit. We are back home. Umar Akal sams Yuvi for a four and 2 sixes. I am back out. But it does not last long. Bhajji takes out Akmal. I am back home. Munaf takes out Razzaq. You wonder where is Afridi and the Powerplay. But Misbah is taking care of India :). Afridi hits a few. Misbah hits one. Its happening again. I start feeling twitchy. Mom says "Arent you supposed to be out"?. I nod. I walk into the night. No roars. Whats happening? Pin drop silence for well over 15 minutes. And finally its here. A huge roar. Afridi goes. But I am not going up so soon. Again, a period of no roars. Wahab Riaz and Gul are also out. They are 9 down. Surely, India wins now, right? I run back home. And Misbah hits 3 in a row off Zak. I almsost do a McEnroe "You cannot be serious". He hits Munaf for a Six next over. Good Lord. What made me come back? Off I go again. Praying that the last over should not have a target of less than 20. Its 30. 30 off 6 balls. I am convinced that India can bowl atleast 2-3 good balls. I go up again. Dot ball. Dot ball. Dot ball. Dot ball. Out. Huge celebrations. Its India vs Sri Lanka in a dream final at Mumbai. One win away. First World Cup won ;)
The Big Final. Super Saturday. I convince myself that I will watch every ball come what may. We are at my in-laws place. I had taken 4 chilled bottles of Canon for me and my father-in-law "khoob jamega rang" style. India start off well. Its almost like a wall on the off side. Lanka cant penetrate Yuvi, Raina and Kohli. But Mahela plays a blinder and Perera ends in style. 275. Stiff. But possible. Malinga takes out Viru and SRT. Curtains? For once, I decide to stay put. Biwi and Saas-Sasur have had it. They move to the balcony for some TP. I am all alone watching the Finale. Believe. Believe. We need to be 7 down to lose this match. Until then ... Believe. We surely cant lose this. When will we be in a Final again. I woudlnt have taken a loss. Besides, Rajnikanth was in the building. No way we are going to lose. The Totkas were running around everywhere.
Kohli and Gauti steady the innings. And Dhoni stamps his authority. What an innings for a big match. I start my "one-up" chatter with my in-laws. I am on a rampage about India. Dhoni dumps the ball in the stands to win the Cup. Lay down the red carpet. Start blowing the trumpets. Let the booze flow. I get some more beer, call up relatives and the plan for Sunday is done.
The scenes at the stadium were unreal. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS ... THE MIGHTY MIGHTY CHAMPIONS ... !!
Yes ... in my lifetime ... !!
Cheers ... !!