Well it certainly turned out to be just that -a cup that counts and will probably count forever now! The above pic says it all for us Indians. Winning of the world cup was like a festival which all celebrated together irrespective caste/religion/region/gender or whatever else that divides us otherwise. It brought a strange frenzy amongst all us, we (most of all) missed schools/office if working, to watch India's games. We applied our own superstitions probably to make the team win from wearing tricolors/blue to repeating some action that seemed to "favour" the team at that instant, be it a specific channel, position etc. We waited with baited breath till the final six . And after the win, we called all over called and congratulated each other, probably as delighted as the team for that instant of time.
Well it's been a special time! And this cup's been very special. In more ways than the win. The team grew this time. The gen Y team. They learnt to handle pressure, they learnt to adapt to situations, be it a different pitch, injuries or toss. In the first game itself, against Bangladesh, our team achieved glory through Sehwag. They started the streak of high targets which seemed to ripple throughout the tournament. The game against England may have made some doubt the team but than it WAS a draw. So no one can say it wasn't close! And it encouraged teams like Ireland work hard enough to be of some reckoning, as acknowledged by their captain. The other wins may have been easy. And yes, we did lose to SA. But nothing disheartened this team! They came kicking back in the Windies game. Of course there were many sceptics who wanted the team to lose that match simply so that they won't have to face Australia but that was certainly not what the team had in mind as they cruised to victory! Beating the previous champions, the team moved ahead to the match of times. India-Pak. I don't think any of us fans missed that one! Till then, all probably secretly hoped for an Indian win but didn't know what to expect what with one tough match after another. And suddenly, there it was - the cup of all cups, just one step away! Yes, India had been in finals earlier, but this was a different team altogether. A younger, more passionate team. Yet a carefree one. One which could show aggression, but also one which could share light moments. There was no blame game, at least on field. A team which worked as a single unit instead of being Sachin-dependent. A team which supported Sreesanth when he couldn't bowl well, a team which may not be the fittest but leaped all around the place to save runs all the same. A team not only of pomp and show through Viru but also stability and perseverance through Gambhir, Raina and Kohli. A bowling unit which no only got wickets but which was also economical like Zaheer, Harbhajan and Munav. A team which produced all-rounders like Yuvraj. A team where people were given a chance based on the match in hand and not based on the big names. A team where the captain remained low-profile and non-aggressive and yet took responsibility on his shoulders when the situation needed it. A team which deserves every moment of this victory!
And yet, to me and numerous other fans, this world cup was not just about the team but about this man who may not play next. The little gentleman, whose names' refrains can still be heard if we try to recall the crowd in any of the matches. ...Sachin Sachin, Sachin Sachin, Sachin Sachin.........
The player who has the grace to walk away without waiting for signal. The player who would come to calm the crowd when unfairly given out. The stylish player. The small but powerful player who made cricket come alive for me and millions of others. The player who not only gave his best always but also went out of his way to encourage his fellow players to do well. The player who waited 28 years for this day. The final joy, well doesn't this image say it all? And of course the player who still has landmarks to reach which make us almost as excited as any cup...And the player whom I hope doesn't have to truly leave cricket even when his playing days are over. Because this is one player who truly makes cricket the game it is, for so many.