After 28 years creating renaissance in cricketing world by defeating the ‘unbeatable’ looking West Indies,  India again won the World Cup becoming only third nation to have won the tournament more than once. West Indies and Australia being the other two. Most notably Both the times India have won ending the World Cup winning streak of these two teams.

With Australia loosing too many tournaments in the past few months they weren’t really the out and out favorites like they were in previous two editions. (In 1999 South Africa were the favorites.)  South Africa had probably the best balanced side on the paper for the second time after 1999 but their choking history was standing against them. India and Sri Lanka had a really strong teams but home pressure was a factor going against them. So there was no clear favorite in this tournament. And that also showed on field as the tournament finally got a final that was interesting to watch.

When the tournament started India were rusty in their bowling and were putting a lot of pressure on the strong batting line-up. A tie to England that lost 6-1 to Australia just prior to the tournament created some doubts in many fans minds. The scraping wins against minnows Ireland and Netherlands didn’t help in clearing those doubts and the loss to South Africa just increased that doubt manifold. But those group stage fears were dusted by the Indian team by some convincing display in the knockout phase. The best thing in these matches was the fielding of the side that was always criticised. The highlight of the final was a 38 year old Tendulkar diving to stop a boundary. Just heartwarming for any Indian cricket fan.

On the other hand Sri-Lanka had entered into the finals with authority. The loss to Pakistan being the only blip on the radar. The washed out match against Australia was also not out of their hands and according to me they were in really good position to end the Australia’s unbeaten run in World Cup before Pakistan did it later in the group stage. But just when the final hurdle was in their sight something started going wrong for them. Murli and Matthews weren’t fit They got cover for them but once the winning combination gets altered it gets tough to get the right combination. But still having said that they had done everything right for almost 45% part of the game.

And finally the celebrations started and the whole nation refuse to go to sleep on the night of the first saturday of April. The roads of Mumbai and its suburbs which were quiet for whole day came alive with youngsters dancing, singing, drinking and shouting out patriotic slogans like ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. Some of the celebration, though, I think was not in the good spirit. Some youngsters tried to do a wild stunts on bikes putting risk to their as well as others life, some shouting obscenities at the Sri Lankan team which had played a nice match giving run for money to their team and also obscenities at some tourists if they spot one.

Watching those celebrations also forced my mind to go back 4 years. At that time India was out of World Cup in the group stage itself and people even carried out the last rites of some players.

The best quote came from a friend, ” I haven’t seen these many Indian flags even on our Independence day or Republic day rallies”. A sport can truly evoke more patriotism than many other occasions. 🙂

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