It’s yesterday once more….

Posted: April 3, 2011 in cricket
Tags: , , ,

Here’s a confession. Till yesterday’s final, I had not watched a single match of the ICC World Cup which India played. But more of that later…

Last night as I watched the kids in my building running up and down the parking area screaming “India India” after Dhoni smacked the six, I could afford to look on indulgently. After all, I had been there, done that. I had witnessed it before. I couldn’t help think back to that magical day in June of 1983 when India achieved the impossible. Was that a more defining moment than this one? I was 25 then and crazy about the game as my son is today. No one gave India a hope in hell to even reach the semi-finals, leave alone the final. I remember reading that the arrogant England players and their media were delighted and derisive about meeting India in the semi-finals, because they couldn’t have asked for an easier opponent en route to the final at Lords.

When Yashpal Sharma whipped Bob Willis of his legs to midwicket for a six, everyone sitting in the control room of Hotel Blue Diamond, where I worked in those days, erupted. We knew it then that we were going to thrash the Poms. We could see the faces of the England players. They were shell-shocked and had already lost the match. You don’t pick Bob Willis then England’s best fast bowler and cart him over the fence like he was bowling with a tennis ball!

Then in the final as the West Indies were sailing to a win with the arrogant Viv Richards treating the Indian bowlers like they were schoolboys, we all prayed. All ‘we’ needed was his wicket and as Richards lifted a Madan Lal delivery to the leg side, I think most of us packed to the nines in that small room at the hotel died a thousand deaths as we watched Kapil Dev running to get under the ball. Would he drop it? Would he? He didn’t.

As Mohinder Amarnath claimed the last wicket I don’t think there was a dry eye amongst us. We wept. For a lot of us, it was a moment we never imagined would happen. Just like today’s generation, we had been waiting for this moment since we were kids. Imagine a rag-a-tag bunch of no-hopers under a 23-year-old captaining his country at cricket’s most prestigious tournament for the first time, walking away with the title. I remember wishing, like I did yesterday, that I could have been in Mumbai, because that is where the celebrations would be at its best. It was after all the home of Indian cricket. I remember reading that the foghorns on ships anchored along the coast near the Gateway of India went on blaring through the night, flares lit up the night sky and people danced on the streets.

I might have lost my job that night, because I should have been on duty at the Reception of the hotel, but was instead watching the match. But no one noticed and no one cared. The hotel lobby was packed with guests who came down from their rooms asking us to open the Bar, because they wanted a drink to celebrate. You can have been a waiter or a guest, but it didn’t matter, because people hugged each other in the lobby. I remember thinking, as tears rolled down, that this was the most incredible moment of my life.

But all through this World Cup whenever India played my son told me to stay away from the living room. He believed that every time I walked in an Indian wicket fell, so I was banished into the bedroom and told to watch the match on my laptop! He claimed India won because I stayed out of the living room and he didn’t move from his perch on the sofa! But yesterday, as India lost Sehwag and Tendulkar, my son was despondent, and went to sleep. I came back, sat in the living room and watched the entire match. Fifteen runs away from a win, I woke him up. He was stunned when he heard me tell him excitedly that India was about to win the Cup. I also told him that I had been sitting in his chair and India was about to win!

Of course, I didn’t tell him that I was jumping up and down like a schoolboy, cheering and shouting every time Gambhir and Dhoni sent the ball to the boundary. “Two fours….two fours, is all we need to take the pressure off,” I remember thinking aloud. Going a run a ball wasn’t exactly comforting as we inched closer. The run-to-ball ratio had to change quickly now and then Dhoni took on Malinga. As he hit two fours I was applauding and clapping in delight. And then in the next over as he banished the ball into the stands, I leapt from the chair, dancing, screaming – just like those kids down below. It was 1983 again.

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Comments
  1. Chandran says:

    Yes I remember 1983.Surprisingly, that was the last time I watched India play in the World Cup ,as cricket is quite unheard of in this part of the world.We watched the match on a grainy black and white screen at a customers house in Mysore, drowning copious volumes of beer.When India won,we were all so excited that our customer toppled over backwards in his chair.
    Last nite and on Wednesday,we watched it at a friends place in Medan,on HDTV beamed directly by Doordarshan via satellite. India played a clinically detached game,kept their cool and romped home the winners.
    If Sachin had made his 100th 100 that would have been the real icing on the cake.
    Well played Team India and don’t make me wait another 28 years for the next World Cup.

  2. H V Kumar says:

    1983 was an ethereal experience. No hyped up super heroes, no fortunes for the winners & losers, simply the magic of Mohinder, Yashpals, Binnys & Kapils. On black-and-white TV. The semis were so well-played by India. Things looked despondent, but at the 40th over, Yashpal started hammering the bowlers and got the run rate up. The finals against the WI was a bad scene with India getting all out at 180, not a challenging score even for those slower times. Everyone had written off Kapil’s Devils and lamented at the poor performance, already proclaiming that WI would win the Cup again, but a spirited bowling & fielding attack by our men had WI gasping and all out at 140! And in those days, the only bets one heard of were in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale!

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