The journey began at 11:45 am.. A long wait for the fellowship, which comprised 2 kids and 4 adults, to arrive and then we were off! Walking all the way from Napean Sea road to Grant road station. The walk in the scorching sun had a weirdly calming influence on my grey matter which had not rested even a minute since morning. Was India really going to win the cup? Was it worth going to the stadium? Am i being a fool for not selling my ticket for a LAC plus INR?
All the questions somehow were answered by the amazing confidence that every by passer exuded. And with every step i took towards the station, i somehow stopped thinking as much and started enjoying the sheer craziness that cricket brings out in us Indians!
The roads were choc-a-bloc with cars honking, cutting lanes, trying every possible manouvre to get to the Wankhede stadium as quickly as possible.
Every passer by seemed to take notice of our company, what with each of us (besides me) dressed in the Indian jersey. A few known faces too emerged from amongst the unknown to wish us ‘good luck’ as we were going to a place that 1.2 billion Indians would kill to be in.
After a 15 minute walk we reached the station, where a few shady customers tried to bully the kids for tickets to the game. A train to Churchgate almost immediately roared into the station and we managed to get into it. 10 more minutes to churgate station and we were almost there! The unofficial MECCA of cricket- the WANKHEDE stadium. The Churchgate station resembled a fortress with heavy security, blocked exits et al. We managed to find an exit eventually and proceeded towards the entrance gate for the Pavillion stand, encountering a lot of ‘ INDIAAAA, INDIAAAA’ chants. Its amazing how cricket manages to galvanise the very people who are divided by petty politicians with vested interests!
A few known faces and a little bit of luck got us into the stadium in no time and even then waiting in the line wasn’t futile cause all of us got a glimpse of the DEMI-GODS entering the stadium in their spacious Volvo’s.
Into the stadium and the crowd had started screaming an hour before the match even started. The mood was set, people were confident, so it seemed nothing could go wrong!!
The drama started with the toss! Neither the home team captain nor the match refree heard the opposing team captain call for the toss! There was a huge mutter around the ground that the toss was fixed. But before those rumors gathered momentum, the coin was re-tossed and SriLanka won the toss! India had to chase to win a Final on home soil! To top it all the team composition for the match seemed suspect, picking Sreesanth, a pacer ahead of R. Ashwin, a spinner on a Bombay wicket which is usually a turner.. It couldn’t get any worse! The crowd was groaning and rightly so.
India have never been good chasers and SriLanka had a strong lineup both batting and bowling.
Eventually the match got underway in an amazing manner. The indian bowling, barring the erratic Sreesanth bowled very well, picking up wickets at regular intervals and limting the run rate. It was a feast for the crowds, who cheered loudly after each maiden over and went ballistic every time a wicket fell.
But, somehow there was the feeling that something will go wrong.. And it did!
A silent crowd witnessed the brutal hitting force of the SriLankan batsmen in the batting powerplay. It was time for the Lankan fans to go all out. And that’s exactly what they did, as silent Indian fans looked on. The match seemed to have tilted in Lanka’s favor.
The Indian run chase got off to the worst possible start, losing the 2 openers in the first 7 overs! The SACHIN TENDULKAR wicket silenced the very crowd that had revved up the decibels just moments ago. What was heartening to see, though, was the standing ovation The Man got for playing what could’ve possibly been his last match on His home ground.
Time went by, a few wickets fell, but this Indian team was different from the others. No target was unchaseable, no team was unbeatable. With that same conviction, Dhoni, the captain, Gautam and Yuvraj kept the scoreboard ticking. Every dot ball was dreaded, every single was cheered as if it was a boundary and when the boundaries were hit the 30,000 plus crowd in the stadium, be it the Ambanis, the Mallayas or the common man in the east stand, roared in appreciation and delight.
Victory seemed nearer when all of a sudden Dhoni went ballistic smashing a couple of boundaries. Confidence grew and everyone awaited the winning moment.
One of the greatest bowlers in World cricket today was up against one of the smartest batsmen. 3 runs were required in 1 and a half overs. Lasith Malinga stormed into bowl at Dhoni at 150 kmph.
Dhoni, not having a care for reputations heaved him for a SIX over long-off. THAT WAS THE MOMENT. 30,000 anxious Indians in the crowd jumped up in celebration of the one cup that had eluded India for the past 28 years. Dhoni stood at the centre of it all, absorbing the atmosphere created by his heroics. Sachin & Yuvraj were in tears, Harbhajan and Virat were jumping and Raina and Sehwag were just absorbing the fact that they were the WORLD CHAMPIONS.
“For the past 21 years Mr. Sachin Tendulkar has shouldered the burden of Indian cricket, it’s about time we carried him on our shoulders.” Virat Kohli, barely a few years old when Sachin started playing cricket put his words into action and carried Sachin all around the stadium! Gary Kirsten, who played one of the most understated role in the success was also carried around. The humble captain stood away from the limelight.
The World cup was ours!! A walk through Marine drive signified how Sport unites the un-united. There was dancing, singing, people sitting on the roofs of cars, firecrackers and a lot more. And rightly so.
Not only was it a feather in the illustrious cap of Sachin Tendulkar, it was also the defining moment for a certain man named MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI.
A small town boy from Ranchi, Jharkhand has won all the titles that there are to win, the IPL, the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, the WORLD CUP T20, the limited overs WORLD CUP, the BEST TEST TEAM & with this win the best limited overs team!
What a night, what atmosphere, what a stage to deliver.