Thursday, October 25, 2007

The day we became World Champions

Much water has flowed under the Howrah Bridge since the events that I’m about to narrate. Yet, it is a story which must be told. It is the story of how India overcame Pakistan in the finals of the ICC Twenty20 cup to become World Champions.

Let that sink in… India - World Champions. I had to keep pinching myself when India recently played a Twenty20 international against Australia at Mumbai and the commentator very proudly announced, “Australia are playing against the world champions!” Now that is something you don’t hear very often and I felt particularly proud to be an Indian at that point in time.

But let me get back to where I originally started this post. Let me recount the events as they happened on that fateful day.

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24th September 2007

It is a dark and wet Monday evening in Calcutta as India takes on Pakistan in the finals of the Twenty20 World Cup at the Bull Ring at Johannesburg. Ravi, Harsh and I make our way to The Ordnance Club to enjoy the game on their flat screen TV. We are in a noisy dining room at the club and the table in front of us is filled with all the food that we have ordered: two pots of tea, cheese grilled sandwiches, a plate of paneer tikka, masala chips and Coke.

Harsh and I keep munching at a regular pace even though we are hypnotized by the match. Ravi, being his usual self, sips his tea in a manner which would’ve fooled you into believing that he was a MCC member having his cuppa on a bright Sunday morning at Lord’s where Somerset was playing Kent.

By the time the 19th over of the Pakistan innings gets over, Harsh and I can barely keep sitting. We are at the end of this long dining hall and thankfully so, because we both just keep pacing in tension. If there had been guests seated behind us they would certainly have been up in arms.

Last over and 13 runs required. Dhoni hands over the ball to Joginder Sharma who, let’s accept it, at his pace doesn’t really put the fear of the Lord into you. I look up at Harsh and he has this very nervous smile on his face, as if telling me, ‘Oh Dear!’ With a deep breath, I turn to look at the TV.

Wide.

Darn!! What the hell was Joginder doing??!! You already have a Misbah-ul-Haq at the crease who in the previous India-Pakistan encounter had almost pulled off an incredible win for his team. In any case, he’s also one of the biggest six hitters of the tournament with that massive 111m hit (only to be outdone by Yuvraj Singh’s monstrous 119m six). And then you bowl a wide to make it only 12 runs required to win the match and the trophy?!!

Dhoni runs up to Joginder and it seems whatever he’s told him has worked since the next ball is a dot ball, although it was outside the off stump and very lucky not to be called a wide.

I breathe easy for a moment…only just.

Joginder bowls the next ball and Misbah shuffles across his stumps and hits the ball high in the air. For a moment I’m hopeful that some Indian fielder at long on will get under it and take the catch. But all my prayers seem to have come undone when Ravi Shastri screams, “This is six! It’s a magnificent strike!”

Gosh! How could this have happened? We had almost won it…how could Misbah do this to us…again? Will he make amends for his mistake at Durban? Will he really pull it off this time? My mind is buzzing with possible scenarios, not all of them positive for India.

The dining hall has gone very silent…the only sound that can be heard is of the cutlery striking against each other. Even the waiters and stewards have been struck by horror as they stare at the TV screen and forget to take orders. What orders? Even the diners are staring dumb-struck.

Disappointed, I look at Harsh. The story is written all over his face: only one big hit and Pakistan could win this. Harsh shakes his head as he looks at me, his nonchalant smile vanished. I don’t know what to do and look at the floor. I turn to Ravi, but the idiot is happily sipping his tea and looking as if somebody has just paused reading ‘Alice In Wonderland’ to him. Nut!! How can someone NOT be affected by a tension situation like this? How can someone be so cool-headed? I shake my head in wonder.

Pakistan need 6 runs to win and have 4 balls of the last over to do it in. The only worrying factor, if there is any in the Pakistani camp at the moment, is that this is their last pair at the wicket.

Joginder runs up to deliver his next ball. Misbah tries to get cheeky by walking across the stumps and loops the ball up in the air behind the wicket.

OH MY GOD!! Is this the moment which will haunt our nightmares forever? Has Misbah just become the Javed Miandad for this new generation of Indian cricketers and Indian cricket lovers?

But wait a minute! There’s a man underneath it…and it is Sreesanth. Sreesanth, the man who can reduce to mockery his tremendous talent by letting his emotions take control of him. ‘Oh God, please, please let Sreesanth take the catch!’

Sreesanth fumbles slightly…but finally manages to hold on to the ball!!

THAT’S IT!! India has won!!!!! INDIA HAS WON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!! We are the CHAMPIONS… We have been crowned kings!!

The hall at Ordnance Club erupts with middle-aged pot bellied uncles jumping in joy and banging their beer glasses. High-society aunties scream and clap their hands in glee, all the while making sure their silk sarees are not out of place.

I jump and shout with joy!! I look at Harsh, whose reaction has been much the same as mine. I rush up to him and we hug each other and continue jumping while screaming ‘Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!’ My heart hasn’t beaten this hard in quite a while. We just can’t stop the momentum and keep jumping and shouting.

We pause to look at Ravi. He is still sitting in his stupid chair, grinning at us and clapping. ‘This is not the moment to sit and applaud like a Lord, you idiot. Be an Indian….SCREAM!!!’ Both Harsh and I run up to him, pull him up, and embrace him as well and then start jumping around in a huddle, much like the huddle that the Indian team is now getting into.

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I write this down because this is one moment of unimaginable joy for me as an Indian cricket fan. This moment will be one which we will remember the rest of our lives, much like our fathers remember the exact moment when Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential Cup at Lords.

---------------- Now playing: Amit Kumar & Chorus - Dekha Jo Tujhe Yaar via FoxyTunes

10 comments:

BP said...

I'm don't watch cricket but that must've been a great day for you guys :)

arpana said...

I was one of those people who read the newpaper the next day and went - Oh so they won ... hmmm, no wonder we had a volcanoe erupt on the moon. And went on to read CnH.

mini said...

hey..gr8 post..made me relive those moments again.. ~smiles~..bips n me were watchin it..and at the end.. we were jumping arnd too:)

btw, kill ravi..sports is all abt passion.. whether it is spectator or player:)

Ravi Raja said...

“btw, kill ravi..sports is all abt passion.. whether it is spectator or player:)”

There are different ways in which different people express their joys … and if I am not mistaken … It is NOT necessary to jump and scream and show the world that you are happy about something … Sitting silently and appreciating the ones who deserve the appreciation is also a form of appreciation and I consider that to be the true form of appreciation rather than appreciating people like how most of the people in this world do (which sometimes takes the form called over reacting or may be flattering). Even I am passionate about sports and enjoy the game in the manner in which I want to … and not in the way the world does … and that does not mean that I lack that passion for sports. I cannot change my actions for any particular event just because the world does the same in a different manner … I am one of those silent appreciators and I give a damn to what the world talks about me!! So … “Kill those who don’t understand this”.

(@ Shekhar: I had already discussed my problems with you and it is not possible for everyone to smile when things are not going fine with people. That’s why I did not want to go for the match that day knowing the fact that this was coming up but you both forced me to and now there is a third person commenting about me. Anyways … “to hell with whoever says whatever about me” … I just don’t care. I am what I am and I will always be so.)

arpana said...

@ ravi raja - Im sorry, im butting in, but knowing Mini, Im sure she did not mean any harm to you pal. Agreed, it sounds a li'l harsh, but hey, people have their ways of expressing themselves.
take care of yourself dude. *hugs*
and again, Mini's one of the sweetest and the most empathetic persons, Im sure she wouldnt have said what she did if she knew the circumstances.

Shekhar said...

bp: Oh it absolutely was! Fun to be around with close friends and enjoy a game which we all like. :)

Btw, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog!! :)

mini: :D Thanks for the compliment. I too thoroughly enjoyed reliving the moments when I wrote the post. And yes, I remember speaking to you and Bips after the match and it was fun to hear Bips all excited. He he..

ravi: Dude... CHILLAX !!

arpana: //Oh so they won

~rolls his eyes in horror~

How could you?

And thanks for stepping in and trying to clear the air.. :)

Ravi Raja said...

I am EXTREMELY SORRY for my previous post.

Sincere Apologies to All.

arpz said...

@shekhar, its JUST a GAME , and I am an ardent Aussie supporter :P

@raja - dude, take care. :) - really I like totally and completely mean it :) take care of yourself.

mini said...

@ravi raja :'I give a damn to what the world talks about me!!'

thats the way to go dude..

seems like it is shark fault!!.. he is a gud frnd of yours..and look the kinda pic he painted of yours in this post

kill shekhar

~laughs~...

Shekhar said...

arpz: Jeetega Bhai Jeetega, INDIA Jeetega !!!

mini: Darn!! You better watch out !!!!