Since that mad rush after trapping Michael Holding by Mohinder Amarnath on 25th June, 1983, a red-letter day in Indian Cricket, the cabinet hadn’t received the same glory for a long spell. Reaching the 2003 final against the Aussies had somehow provided us respite in the dry run at the world stage. The country was hurrying for gold glamour they witnessed in the past to grow belief. Actually, another proof was required to concreate the proof.
Australia…Australia…Australia, the world appeared to be following their every single word in the cricketing arena. Sri-Lanka was the last Asian side to register their name as winners in 1996. Fast forward 15years, another World Cup is going to stage in Asia. Today, myself Subhradeep Choudhury, will observe how a pressurized Indian team turned the table of 36-year old trend and became the First Home Side to earn the biggest trophy.
Expectation & Media hype of the World Cup:
“!983, the pressure wasn’t that much…no one expected us.” The words of Ravi Shastri who was a part of the 1983 winning side. It could easily summarize how Kapil’s underdogs pulled off something stunner. But the pressure of expectations could do funny things with you. After beating the depending champions, when they got the better of the home English side, the tournament was already won for some of us sitting in India. Very few expected that the Agriculture background Kapil Dev and his troops would lift the Prudential World Cup. So, the sweet taste of un-expectation made it crunchy.
“2011 was huge…everyone wanted India to win” also figured out Shastri, whose last line to finish the final still provides goosebumps. “With the media hype, what it was in 1983 compared to what it was in 2011- Chalk & Cheese.” The whole India wasn’t just expecting the country to win it but it seems like they were demanding to see their side with the Champions banner.
Tendulkar’s last World-Cup:
From a typical Virender Sehwag start of hitting the bowler for a first ball boundary I most of the games to run the World Cup OR the flick in leg-side to pass Tendulkar to reach his 5th World Cup and 98th International Century OR a pure all-round performance from Yuvraj Singh to save the blues from a sorry loss against the Irishs OR the Nagpur shock that for a moment removed them from the track to the target OR when a vomiting Yuvraj Singh, the World Cup belongs to whom, fighted with a dangerous disease in the heat of Chennai OR a team Performance to knock the mighty Aussies out to meet the arch-rivals Pakistan and making a name to the last stop, the half dream was complete. Now a tough challenge awaits.
The Double Toss and a Change of Fortune
The whole crowd roared in Wankhede as they observed Ms Dhoni & Kumar Sangakara coming out for a final flip of the coin. The heat surely touched the officials too. Match referee Jeff Crowe, who missed out of hearing Sanga’s call, denied Dhoni who already turned back and informed the decision of batting. I just had a funny smile on my face as I am typing, Sangakara won the toss now and opted to bat. If one decision by Dhoni didn’t raise eye brows, then it was bringing Sreesanth replacing Injured Ashish Nehra.
Mighty Mahela Joys first half
Eight years forward, a sharp and veteran Zaheer Khan ran and just did what he does so well, took early wickets. Tharanga’s finding himself in the hands of Sehwag in the slips resulted a calm powerplay of 31-1. Harbhajan’s foxing Dilshan on the 99th ball of the game introduced the duo of Sanga-Mahela on the 22-yard; the latter just calmly boiled the sting.
Some of the classy shots of Jayawardene just explained why he was rated so highly. The gorgeous cover-drives, the best placements, the flicks and sweeps were just doing clap in the hands of Indians. But as I said, the World Cup belongs to Yuvraj Singh. Again, he sent the captain two short of his fifty and Samaraweera who was looking good to burst on the bowlers back in the hut. A slower ball ends Kapudegra in the hands of Raina at short-cover. The Indians were smiling brightly with Sri Lanka on 183/5 in 40-overs.
The Final Ten Turning Point Overs
Sri Lanka took the batting powerplay with a set Jayawardene received Nuwan Kulasekara, whose presence before Thisara, was suspecting some wild swing. He smashed Zaheer over mid-wicket and a well set Mahela cut for four. Hitting a trademark swinging yorker for a boundary, he produced an absolute incredible hundred. Although, the quick run-out of Nuwan helped Thisara Perera to arrive at the right time.
He just swung his stick in the last Zaheer over to get 16-benificial runs. “Sri Lanka Believes” was the line Naseer Hussain declared when the Sri Lankan all-rounder slapped Zaheer for a six to post a pillar of 274. The Slinga Malinga show, the Murli fear adds up with a pressure of finals; India had their work cut out.
The Dirt on Gambhir’s Shirt
Both the Indian openers walked out to chase the dreams of billions. In the darkness of the day, some of the people in the rural area came out of their house to gather at one place with setting a big screen in front of them. But the start wasn’t expected. Second ball of Malinga wrapped Sehwag on the pads to increase the Island’s belief.
Sachin was in red hot form. Two centuries against the English & Proteas bowling line-up with a fresh 85 in the semis were shinning before his name. After starting with three runs, he played his autograph drive and a square-cut. But it couldn’t run long according to everyone’s dream. Malinga provided a heart attack by Tendulkar’s wicket which the pin-drop silence sense in the stadium. It was too injurious for the fans that no one gave Sachin a standing ovation in his last World Cup innings.
Tough time to arrive on the crease but the transition of eras occurred there. Kohli and Gambier, two Delhi boys, were playing sensible Cricket respecting the good balls to the right place. Both the spinners looked ordinary with zero help from the 22-yard. But an uppishly drive stayed into the golden hands of Dilshan. At 114-3 in the 22nd over, the whole world, in fact the Sri Lankans too expected Yuvi to arrive. But….!!!
The Six Hardly One Forgets
Whatever Yuvraj touched in the tournament, it had turned into gold and coming out before him was a brave decision. A good delivery here & there would put his head under the axe. Although, he later explained that he could read the doosra of the CSK team-mate Muralitharan a bit better. He punched him to score a beautiful four to shift the balance.
The steady possession was going well. Boundaries at the right time along with singles kept the run rate on the right side. In the blink of an eye, the Indian captain scored a 50. The wounds were healing.
The script again read sour when Gambhir found himself short of the crease. The dream of a memorable hundred in the biggest occasion like a World Cup Final remained incomplete. The opponents could make a comeback by sending next man Yuvraj in quick time but that would be a querulous task. Malinga ran in for the very last time on that night with 16-required off 18-balls. Two boundaries both of the slower balls erupted the whole country in joy.
Finally, yes finally, Kulasekara bowled one in the slot and a swing of Dhoni’s bat sent it in the stand and the known voice for the very first time reached our ears- “Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!”
The fire-crackers were bursting all over the country. Sachin, who was the first man to arrive on the ground, was carried by the body-builders of the team. The eternal line of Virat Kohli achieved the frame straightaway – “Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21-years; it was time, we carried him.”
The Final Showdown
There would had been so much talking unless the script ended in the right way and the Indian Captain coming to the press conference has played this doosra better than Murli’s. “If we hadn’t won, I would have been asked quite a few questions.” The man who had missed the sweet in the last five attempts, couldn’t ask for more- “I couldn’t control my tears of joy.”
The heir of the dirty shirt that was the limelight of the win, Gautam Gambhir just dedicated the cup to the Tendulkar- “All credit goes to Sachin Tendulkar.” The man, whom the World Cup belongs to, Yuvraj Singh, said- “This is unbelievable…for Sachin, for everyone else.”
The scoreboard wouldn’t express the right picture of how the game spans out. It was a very close encounter with so many times the balance shifted in both the sides. The classy art of Jayawardene went in vain as Dhoni joined the likes of Clive Llyod & Ricky Ponting to win the final Man of the Match award as captain. Two more years of wait and the same scenes will be expected to repeat soon.
Sri Lanka (Toss) – 274/6 (50 overs) (Mahela Jayawardene 103*, Yuvraj Singh 2-49)
India- 277/4 (48.2 overs) (Gautam Gambhir 97, Ms Dhoni 91*, Lashith Malinga 2-42)
Man of the Match– Ms Dhoni
Man of the Tournament– Yuvraj Singh.