Sunday, 3 April 2011
I'm a Believer!!
Today is a rare day, its the morning after...and for once, it is not filled with regrets, finger pointing, confusion, arguments or pure disbelief and denial. People are not coming up with accusations, arguments and justifications. From the logical - "they are paid so much for the ads (and now IPL) that they have no incentive to play for the country", "its only Sachin the rest are useless", "they come under pressure too soon"; to the downright inane - "Indians are vegetarians so they can't compete as athletes" or "Gods are against us" and of course "the match was fixed"
After more than 25 years of every Indian of my generation expecting the "best team on paper" to win and every time being let down just as fabulously. But today is indeed a different day, coz we are truly the world champions!! Not only that, we are now, the only team to have won the World Cup in all three formats (60 overs, 50 overs and 20-20). We are the leading Test side and of course we are the commercial capital of Cricket Land.
And so today, I go down memory lane and relive the world cup moments - some great wins, some bitter disappointments and sometimes the only cheer was provided by the special cricket commercials. (PS - click on links)
I don't remember much of 1987 World Cup, we used to live in Shillong, Meghalaya and I cared more for Football and Tennis than for Cricket...
1992 - We move to Kanpur (home to Green Park, the only International Cricket Stadium in the state of UP) and therefore get caught up in Cricket frenzy. The tournament was a complete washout, the only saving grace was the win against Pakistan and of course the image of Javed Miandad doing the frog jump as he imitated Kiran More.
Pakistan led by Imran Khan went on to famously win the World Cup and we all wondered when our team would ever be as spirited...(and whether we could ever understand what our captain Mohd. Azharuddin said after the first phrase i.e. "the boys gave 100%...")
1996 - I remember that our final exams were going on at the time, and we were only allowed to see India matches :(
India was playing in the sub-continent and we had a real chance of winning..Sachin Tendulkar had become one of the best batsmen ever and had practically broken all records. The mood was up-beat and the TV commercials capitalised on this big time
In the Quarter-Finals, Team India play spectacularly against Pakistan and the term "doing a Jadeja" was coined when he thrashed Waqar Younis for 40 in two overs..India was all set to take on the mighty Sri Lankans at Eden Gardens. The match started well, but what happened in the second innings is a shameful event for Indian cricket - India collapsed (predictably) after Sachin was out and the crowd started Rioting..The crowd was not justified in rioting and I don't think Eden Gardens has still recovered from that match..But then it reflected the state of affairs of the Indian cricket team - it was a one man army and was completely dependent on its star player - Sachin Tendulkar (leading run scorer of the tournament)
1999 - A not so great tournament for India who couldn't progress beyond the super sixes..But then the lasting image will always be South Africa vs Australia in the Semis where a mis-understanding caused SA to get knocked out of the tournament...
2003 - BJP was in power and their campaign was called "India Shining"; From the outside, India was indeed shining, the telecom / mobile revolution was in full swing, the markets were up, the Cricket World Cup was going on and Team India under Saurav Ganguly looked formidable. A convincing win over Sri Lanka and New Zealand (and of course Kenya) got India into the finals against the mighty Aussies..We never had a chance against the Aussies, because we never really tried! The cookie just crumbled and Team India lost by the largest margin ever!!
Once again, the only thing to really cheer about were the TV ads...
The BJP India Shining Campaign didn't last longer as well, they too lost to the Congress led Coalition.
2007 - Was it because I was too busy with my investment banking internship, or India were in such bad form, but either way I don't remember watching a single match!!
2007 - T-20 World Cup; I wasn't a fan of T-20 at that point and missed most of the league games (India wasnt playing well anyway). But then "youngistan" team India took over in the knock out stages and the images of Yuvi's 6 sixes and India winning against Pakistan in a nail-biting match remain.
2009 - T-20 World Cup; My friends and I bought loads of tickets for matches at Lords. Watching games at Lords was a real treat! But India let us down again and was knocked out in the qualifiers. PS - found this great ad though
2011 - Expectations are sky high, it is a lengthy tournament, Sachin's last world Cup, etc etc.
I almost gave up on them the way they played against England; My hopes were regained after they played SA - because even though they lost they played well!! Knock-out stages were a complete emotional roller-coaster..We all know what happened, the team finally rose to the occasion, this time the symbolism (the famous huddle) was missing, but the firecrackers were not.
1983 was always an image for us, finally we have new images, new memories to cherish. Virat Kohli summed it up for all of us when he said "Sachin has held carried the burden of Indian cricket for 21 years so its fine if we carry him on our shoulders today" (did he really come up with that on the spot??!!!)
And so here I am, I confess I am not cricket crazy like a lot of my friends but a fan nonetheless, and today, I am a believer!!
PS - check out this MS Dhoni ad (I'd not seen it before)