23rd March 2007 may not be written in Golden Letters in history of Indian cricket but on that day Sachin Tendulkar’s resolve to win the World cup got firmer then ever. It was the day when India crashed out of 2007 World cup after a defeat to Sri Lanka. He dreamt of lifting the World Cup in Mumbai on 2nd April 2011 and so he DID. Sachin DID what he dreamt from the moment he lifted bat for the first time and he fulfilled his dream. And with Him more then billion Indians and cricket lovers all India fulfilled their Dream.
Dhoni’s men did what no other team could do after Kapil’s Devils shook the cricketing World with their victory over the more fancied teams and upsetting favuorite’s West Indies on that fateful evening at London in 1983 when no one gave them a chance. That Victory was always called a fluke and proven time and again in the next Six editions of the World Cup with the only exception being 2003 team which reached the final but got too overawed by the occasion and lost comprehensively. But this time India was touted as favourite and lived up to the tag by lifting the Trophy.
Before the celebrations the Final Match lived up to its billing and provided a nerve wracking moments during the course of the match. Sri Lanka started defensively with scoring the least runs of the tournament for them in the mandatory Power play but came back strongly and scored their maximum runs in the tournament in batting Power play. 274 was always going to be competitive and India was not only chasing 274 but fighting History as well. No host country had won the world Cup, no team has chased so many to win the World Cup and no team in the World had so much riding on them even before a bowl was bowled. It got worse when Sehwag & Sachin were back in the hut within 7 overs. In came the future of Indian cricket in form of Gambhir & Kohli and the run chase was handled brilitantly by Captain Dhoni himself. He took the mantle of standin up to the Sri Lankan spinners and take India to this famous victory by unleashing killer strike over Long On.
Sri Lanka was nervous and it showed in their team selection. It is a cardinal rule not to upset the winning combination. India were forced to do so because of an injury to Ashish Nehra. Dhoni misread the pitch second time in succession and played with 3 seamers. He went by the reputation of Wankhede pitch and played with three seamers and got maverick Sreesanth in place of injured Nehra. Nehra proved to be a match winner against Pakistan by bowling tight and picking wickets at crucial times and in the process redeeming himself after bowling that forgetful last over against South Africa. Same discipline cannot be expected of Sreesanth and he proved it once again by bowling on both sides of the wicket and leaking runs. India missed Ashwin in final but then after victory all is forgotten. It can also be said that Sreesanth was picked up for the luck he brings into the team as he is a destiny’s child by playing in this World Cup, coming in as a replacement for injured Praveen Kumar, and is one of the few Indian players who can claim to be 2 time World Champion, T20 World Cup & ODI World Cup.
Sri Lanka made as many as five changes in their team and even made Randiv play the Final of the World Cup who was drafted as a replacement for injured Angelo Mathews only 2 days before the Final. Injury to Angelo Mathews threw many Sri Lankan plans awry. Though Mahela stepped up to the plate and scored a brilliant and sublime century it was again first time when a centurion has ended up on the losing side in a World Cup final.
It is also strange and pleasant to hear that all of India helped the team in one way or other to Win. Every person made his contribution and it was as bizarre as not watching the match, by only listening to commentary, by switching off their TV sets when Tendulkar got out an switching them only when India got into a commanding position, by not changing their seats, or by changing their seats every time a wicket fell, by eating only home cooked food or by only eating home delivered food from a particular restaurant, betting on India’s loss hoping that India wins, every household in the country followed their own little regime and contributed to this win. And when it did happen the celebrations were to be send to be believed. The fans all over the country went crazy. People flooded the streets across the length and breath of the country. The celebrations lasted for the whole night and even longer at some places.
Tremendous unity and enthusiasm was shown by this cricket loving country and this victory and these celebrations will be remembered for years to come. All the Indian players dedicated this victory to the great Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin was taken for a victory lap on shoulders of his teammates and this showed the love, affection and respect for the man. Dhoni took a backseat after playing a superlative innings and let Sachin hog all the limelight. Sachin himself described it as Proudest Moment of his life. Virat Kohli summed the emotions of the team and entire country beautifully by saying “Tendulkar has carried the burden of nation for 21 years; It was time we carried him.”
Billion dreams fulfilled, Sachin Tendulkar now has a World Cup winner’s medal in his cupboard.
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