The entire tournament, from start to finish, had been too exciting, but a billion-plus Indians just prayed for the ultimate victory yesterday night. Not that we had been the strugglers, not at all, we lashed out in full force against so many of the top contenders - England, Australia, Pakistan amongst them - and, after the triumphant glory of ousting Pakistani team at the semi-final in Mohali, emerging as World Champions seemed very much possible. Yet, in yesterday's match, after the Lankans managed to score 274 runs, having batted first, we felt the heat.
On hindsight, it seems that the spectators were more under pressure than Dhoni and his teammates. Our captain Dhoni in composure personified, and it is this attitude of his that makes him my personal favorite. Sehwag was dismissed for a duck in the opening over, and Sachin, the Master Blaster, too got out rather early. And this is when the men of mettle - Gautam Gambhir, Dhoni and Yuvraj - batted like heroes and made our win a reality.
At the end of the match, many of our cricketers were too overwhelmed, they were in tears, it was genuinely an emotionally charged moment..... there were celebrities like Rajinikanth and Aamir Khan in the stands, ecstatically cheering, there was absolute frenzy in the air.
Somebody rightly commented that the win was cemented by the huge support garnered by our team as the match was being played in our homeground. However, the same factor could have added pressure and affected our performance had we not put a decent effort to clinch the victory.
The Sri Lankans had batted in glory, especially Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan and Kulasekara, and Lasith Malinga bowled superbly to get the early wickets.
For Team India, the victory means a lot, it is a boost to the youngsters in the team, and is a fitting farewell to the outgoing coach, Gary Kirsten..... but, above all, it is a tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, whose talents have made Team India battle odds for so many years and, as it is evident that he won't be playing in the next World Cup, this glorious chapter had to be made part of his cricketing career which has otherwise been iconic already.
Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and others carried Sachin on their shoulders and ran along the boundaries, to the spectators' delight. The teammates must have partied all night.
Here, in Kolkata, the excitement was palpable all along, and just as the match ended the city skyline lit up with fireworks, no one seemed to mind the loud noise of the crackers that were being burst till wee hours of the morning. Kolkata exhibits cricketmania (in fact, any kind of craze) like none else, and Kolkatans came out into the streets in hordes, shouting, singing, dancing, partying, celebrating..... madness all the way, I think even my fellow Kolkatans who aren't cricket-crazy won't mind it for once..... hahaha..... cheers!