The baton passes. And how!

Twenty eight. The number of years that have passed since India last won a World Cup. That miracle at Lord’s. Against the greatest side. 183. Sandhu’s banana ball. His hop after. Kapil’s catch. Madan Lal’s fist pumping the air. Mohinder’s legcutters. Holding’s wicket. Climax.

Twenty eight. Almost half a lifetime. Seven World Cups. Many prime ministers. An economic upheaval. From one television channel to a zillion. In 1983, my dad had to wait eight months before he could own a land line phone. Apparently he was luckier than many.

From Kapil to Gavaskar to Vengsarkar to Srikkanth to Azhar to Sachin to Ganguly to Dravid to Dhoni. Phew! At last. From Srikkanth ecstatically puffing on a cigarette on the Lord’s balcony to Yuvraj Singh sobbing emotionally at the Wankhede.

Twenty eight. The average age of this World Cup winning Indian team. Munaf is 27; Yusuf and Sreesanth are 28; Dhoni, Gambhir and Yuvraj are 29; Harbhajan is 30; Nehra is 31; Sehwag and Zaheer are 32. At the near end of the spectrum are Kohli (22), Chawla (22), Raina (24) and Ashwin (24). At the far, unreachable end is Tendulkar (37).

Among these, only Tendulkar lived the moment in ’83. Only he experienced the miracle. Among this group, only he understands the real significance of that day, the way things were and they way things changed. Only he felt the zeitgeist.

The rest were too young. The memories from that World Cup, if at all there were any, would have been hazy. I’m guessing everything they knew was from hearsay, highlights packages, interviews and anecdotes.

It’s fascinating how the cricket lives of most in this team have run parallel with Tendulkar’s international career. Ten members of this squad, and most of them forming the core, are between 27 and 32. Many of them were drawn to cricket because of Tendulkar and many have talked about idolizing him in their impressionable years.

Many tried to bat like him before getting more realistic. A few initially picked up heavy bats – the kind that he uses – before exchanging them for lighter ones.

Dhoni once said most of the cricket he watched as a kid was restricted to Tendulkar’s batting. He also said how he stopped watching the ’03 final the moment Tendulkar was out. [To understand the man’s leadership read this interview from 2008]

Having lifted Tendulkar on his shoulders, parading him around the stadium, Virat Kohli pretty much spoke for the whole country with his poignant line: “Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It is time we carried him on our shoulders.”

Someday Kohli may go on to lead India. He may even lead them to a World Cup. But I’ll always remember him for this line. Always. That was how apt it was.

Twenty eight. That’s pretty much how old my generation is. I’m 29 and most of my friends are between 26 and 30. We’ve followed poor teams and good teams; seen players with ‘potential’ fall flat on their faces; seen domestic giants being exposed at the higher level. We’ve spent years hearing about our mediocre cricketing system, our  dangerously scruffy outfields, our medieval coaching systems.

We’ve gone mental watching heart-stopping matches, only to realise that some players sold those games for several million bucks. We’ve seen teams collapse too often, teams that choked at the first sign of pressure, teams that couldn’t win big games, teams that crumbled while chasing, teams that froze while batting under lights. We’ve seen Kambli cry.

Like many in the team, we’ve all grown up watching Tendulkar. We too have idolized him, tried to bat like him with heavy bats. We’ve been nervous wrecks when he’s at the crease and often flown off sofa sets watching some of his straight drives. I almost flew off again when he drove Kulasekera today, that majestic, pristine push down he ground. The bat so straight, so still.

For several years, we switched off our TV sets the moment he got out. The result was a no-brainer. The collapse was inevitable. The rest would simply cave in.

Not today. Not a chance in hell. Not with this team. Not with Gambhir, Kohli and Raina. Never with Yuvraj and Dhoni. Sure we were jittery at 31 for 2 but it was just a matter of one good partnership. This team was mentally strong enough. They too have been scarred by collapse after collapse. They too know how much it hurts if they meekly surrender.

Gambhir and Kohli steadied the nerves before Dhoni imprinted his signature on the World Cup. He promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj and backed himself to prove a point. Not to the fans or the media but to himself. It was high time. The moment was here to be seized. Greatness was knocking. He had to blast the door open.

And what an innings it was. Cutting ferociously, bat meeting ball with an ominously crunching sound, the hands twirling the bat around, the slightly exaggerated backlift, the thunderous power.

And that six to finish, probably the most emphatic full stop you will see in cricket. The beautiful arc of the bat, the sensational timing, the elevation, the sheer shock of the instantaneousness, the most awesome orgasm.

The replays were even more stunning: the intense concentration, the absolute brutality of the focus, refusing to take his eyes off the ball, the bat unrelenting in its completion of the follow through. And that joyous twirl that followed, as if he had just finished a game in a park.

For some strange reason it reminded me of Kapil third six at Lord’s in 1990 – when he was batting with the No.11 and struck four sixes to save the follow on. It was the third six in a row, was struck powerfully, described a glorious arc and soared over long-on . And it was executed with the joie de vivre of a little boy in a backyard.

The baton passes. And how!

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98 Responses to The baton passes. And how!

  1. vinayvasan says:

    Brilliant. You have captured every thought that probably went through a cricket fan starting from the dark days of the 90s to the exciting days of now. All that we lacked was a World Cup & now we have that too. At this time, there are a few missing members who must also be included in all the well deserved accolades that are being bestowed on Team India

    1) Sourav Ganguly: The captain who refused to back down. Inarguably, the captain who would back his men & fight for them every inch & instill Team India with belief

    2) Rahul Dravid: A most under-rated ODI player but I believe in his golden run in ODIs, there was no one who could marshall the middle order and the middle overs are deftly across various challenges as Dravid could & for being the ultimate team man

    3) Anil Kumble: For never every giving up & for being the ultimate competitor

    4) Mohammed Kaif: Natwest Trophy 2002. Of all trophies, in a way Natwest Trophy victory provided the earliest indication that this was a team that could different from the team of the 90s, when once Sachin got out, the match was done

  2. Pratyush says:

    Nicely worded dude.

  3. vibhash says:

    i so desperately want to drink tonight…but cannot. bt it wont matter…i am already feeling as if i’ve had gallons of alcohol
    well written..

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  5. Yogesh says:

    Perfect on what Tendulkar means to us. I even used to open in colony cricket and mostly start as the non-striker:-) And of course, heavy bats. The way they lifted him off the ground showed what he means to the team. Yuvi saying that Sachin is a “special person” is something really special. And MS staying in the background through all the celebrations was amazing. It was said somewhere that India have beaten WI, Aus, Pak & SL – all the other WC champions.

    India chasing so confidently after S & S early dismissals means that the baton has truly passed on !

  6. Patrix says:

    One word. Brilliant.

  7. Vignesh says:

    India should grab 2015 and I should read another such piece from you:) Take a bow, sir. Brilliant post.

  8. Lakshmipathy Bhat says:

    Superbly written! Thanks for a great read.

  9. The twirl of the bat will be my enduring image.

  10. I was perhaps in the 12th standard when India won it in ’83. The colour TV was still a novelty – just after the ’82 Asiad. You’ve captured the change in Indian mindset over the years brilliantly. Today this team India, especially the ’28’ year-old are a lot more focused, tougher and just play to win.

    Well written.

  11. Skanda says:

    Sid, thanks for completing the experience. Thanks for sharing the anxities and jubilations through twitter. God bless !

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  13. Rahul Gohrani says:

    Just one word for your article: NEAT!

    I could not resist posting it on my facebook wall.. Don’t worry, I didn’t use my name for it.

    All the best.:)

  14. Great stuff. Very well written. Thanks for posting and sharing.

  15. luckypriya says:

    As usual, well written and u have penned down d thoughts going through most cricket lovers..
    Sid ..keep writing, as it feels nice to read ones thoughts and feelings in ur words!

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  17. A&N says:

    Thank you for writing this. Like I said, with everything else, you will remain an indelible part of my WC memory:)

  18. Aashish says:

    I am so glad you wrote it. Noone could have expressed the feeling this beautifully. I wasn’t old enough on 26th Jun 83 to fully gauge what had happened last night. Today the goosebumps refuse to go. This is the biggest day of my cricket watching life.

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  21. Sriram Ranganathan says:

    Great stuff Sid!

  22. venkat says:

    I am sorry, I can’t understand what the fuss is all about. Sorry if am being snobbish or elitist, you can call this team world champs only if they beat england in england and Australia in Australia. And before you start calling me names, I’ll tell you this much. Cricket is everything in my life. I played the game, and have followed every single moment in Indian cricket for the last fifteen odd years. I have watched Barbados 97, Australia 99, all those desperately low moments. Hence this should feel great. But it doesn’t. I was far more thrilled when India pulled off a test series in England in 07. Now that this “World Cup” nonsense is over, I can’t wait for India to get to England. That’ll be some series. And if we win it, I might jump up and down for joy. Not now. But for all those who are glowing in the aftermath of victory, enjoy the moment.

    • Dev says:

      You are snobbish Venkat! Not sure about elitist. Not being able to enjoy something because something else is better in your opinion will only rob the joy out of your life.
      Coming to Sid. Very well written sir. True how we all live through similar emtions.

  23. Prateek says:

    Brilliant portrayal. I was not even born after 10 years since Kapil’s boys now uncles won ’83 World Cup. Relished your post Sid.

  24. Nithya says:

    Goosebumps! Great write up!

  25. Brilliant piece. I was in college in 1983 and heard the win on a radio commentary. It was a magical moment. But the win yesterday was truly overpowering considering all the losses so far.
    Once again – you’ve written a brilliant piece..

  26. Sachin Patil says:

    Awesome Article!!! I started watching cricket since 1996 world cup. I am having exact same feeling what this article describes.

    — Sachin

    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.samarth.cricscore

  27. tracer007 says:

    Lovely read….This team has accomplished so much under Dhoni…top rankings and World titles galore….now we need to focus on winning Test series in Australia and South Africa…then there will no doubt that Mahi is the greatest Indian captain of all time…

  28. “Sachin carried the burden of a nation for 21 years so he deserves it.” – Virat Kohli

    Stopped me and i was wondering where i was when this was said. After a long hard battle with my thoughts finally i realized. I was somewhere else. Well, of course i was too emotional to care what they were babbling but now it gave me goosebumps.

    Most of the readers have expressed about you flair and how this gem was written, so it’s needless to over shower things on your talent.

    Will pass happily! Thank for your time!

    Via @PeculiarBlend

  29. deitaDi says:

    Brilliant write up! Goosebumps as I read:)

    a better quality video of MSD’s last shot and his follow through – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqak99E5OY0

  30. WSW says:

    It was like you have captured the emotion of every kid who grew up in the nineties…I am 27 and I know how it feels to have seen that team and this:)

  31. agni says:

    “INDIA CLIMBS THE PINNACLE OF GLORY” That was THE HINDU headline on 26th June 2011. I was in 8th grade(schools just reopened after summer vacation), but was not really a cricket nut.. that came after we won in Australia in 1985..
    So this is a great feeling… Thanks Sid for your great blog posts and insightful twitters updates.. As @rameshsrivats said.. it was more enjoyable with the like minded people sharing the reactions and opinions through out the C W C.

  32. Arcopol says:

    Extremely well-written. Thanks for a great read!

  33. V says:

    Brilliantly Written. I can co-relate this to my experience with Indian cricket as I grew-up. Or probably millions of Indian of our age group.

    But on the other hand, where is Kapil Dev today? He should have been to Wankhede to see the baton passing to next generation.

  34. iamamyth says:

    Very well written.:)

  35. Jagannath says:

    Beautiful! Simply elegant! Well done Sid:-) (Thanks @bhatnaturally for bringing me here.)

    Just for another perspective, equally important. http://goo.gl/9L0vM

  36. Brilliant. #enufsaid

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  38. godof86 says:

    Captured the moment perfectly! Great write-up!

    I am 32. My first meories of cricket are all tinged with a ‘we are the world champions, you know’ glow.

    It’s been so, so long!

  39. kumarsinha says:

    again good read boss, shared on my FB page too, I do hope that Tendulkar don’t retire soon enough for his zillion fans, Virat Kohli’s line was perhaps symbolic of a new India, articulate, clear in its mind and willing to work hard for its goals…Nasser Hussain didn’t ask any question after that Kohli line, saying ‘well said’…wow, this TEAM INDIA rocks!

  40. Beautifully written. 28 Years Later. It did happen. Thanks for this post, was a wonderful read. Emotional.

  41. mihir n. says:

    plz correct: Tendulkar is 38, dob: April 24, 1973

  42. daddysan says:

    Brilliantly captured the emotions of a nation waiting for 28 years.

  43. MrNarci says:

    Just heard stories till now. And finally to see it happen with my own eyes. Had to wait 21 years personally, but this IS satisfying. Amazing read.

  44. hope says:

    amazing….I enjoyed the post… as said earlier, brilliant capture of the most awaited day in the life of India.

  45. Never Mind says:

    I was born in 1982 and India won in 1983. our daughter was born in 2010 and india won in 2011:) I hope she will not have to wait another 28 years to know how it feels:)

    Did I mention, that we named our daughter to ensure that her initials match SRT😀

    • vishal says:

      We are hopeless romantics .. One thing that we did inherit from the English in good measure !

      Sid,
      You outdid yourself with this one . To take stock and reflect with all the obvious emotions going through would not have been easy(hell 55 comments went by bfore my hangover passed).Unless the professional in you carved out a skeleton before the final ?

      Anyway, outstanding write up and to quote Yuvi , Bhadaaiyan Ho . We (the 29 yr olds) DESERVE it.

      • sidvee says:

        Thanks Vishal. It was written a couple of hours after the game, with so many emotions flying in my head, after chatting with my school friend about ‘those’ days. No skeleton of any sort:)

    • deafsound says:

      have another kid soon😀

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  49. Rasika says:

    Brilliantly Superb !! You have done an awesome job dear ! No matter how many days pass after the WC, I’ll still cherish every article , every photo about the win ! This is the first time I am witnessing something like this! I wasnt even born in ’83 !

  50. Rasika says:

    Viva India !

  51. Shalini Puthiyedam says:

    Your article just shows how much our spirits are Indian. You may be sitting in California or Canberra. It is the same moments that you highlighted here that would have been imprinted and implanted in all these Indian minds. The Virat Kohli comment, the look in MSD’s eyes, the twirl of the bat, the emotionally sobbing Yuvi, the childlike running of Sachin on to the field….these are the moments that will stay etched.

    I’m placing here one of the “Letters to the editor” which appeared in “The Hindu” today. This I think epitomises Indianness like nothing else does. It has stuck in my head ever since I read it. I thought it captures perfectly, what every Indian on this planet feels. I dunno if there is a people more madly patriotic than we are. We wear our patriotism truly on our sleeve for all the world to watch when we wipe our tears of joy on it! Below is the letter in “The Hindu”.

    “Although I did not get caught in the cricketing frenzy, I nonetheless celebrated and danced — to the utter surprise and dismay of my 12-year-old son — when India won the World Cup. My son, born in the U.K., considers himself British and maintains he has nothing to do with India. But he asked me: “How many runs do we need to win?” Yes, WE. He and I and the huge crowd. I, who realised at that moment, once an Indian always an Indian; he, who de-conflicted in his mind that indeed he has something to do with India.

    In the final reckoning, the mass hysteria over a game I held in contempt, not because of the game itself but because of the false pretensions and priorities it attached to our psyche, has in a rather facetious fashion, enthralled and entertained me. More positively, my young son understood that the world is not all black and white, that order has its origins in chaos, and that it is generally preferable to pause and consider before declaring allegiance.

    Gopinath Chandroth,

    Hampshire”

  52. pooranan balaasubramanian says:

    Nice piece. Definitely describes what every indian cricket fan went through last 20 odd years along with Tendulkar. Thanks a lot!

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  54. Santhi says:

    Beautifully and very poignantly summed up my thoughts too. I was an 8 year old girl whose dad had to go to the neighbouring town to watch the match with his friends and distributed sweets after. Started following cricket after this win and have experienced all the emotions you mentioned. Now I live in USA and my son is 10 and followed every ball of the match with great enthusiasm and understanding. First thing I did was to call my dad and we both remembered the moment in 83. I am now his age and the victory means everything to me as an Indian cricket fan. Finally.

  55. Sunny says:

    If you are 29, wonder how you can reminsce like this about 1983? Was it thanks to replays?

  56. teejay says:

    Last 6 weeks were so special and you were one of the reason @sidvee, as I started following you since then… lot of memorable tweets , blog posts & conversation. As I am also 29, so most of the time it seems that ur putting my feelings in words:)

    “And that six to finish, probably the most emphatic full stop you will see in cricket. The beautiful arc of the bat, the sensational timing, the elevation, the sheer shock of the instantaneousness, the most awesome orgasm.”
    I will cherish this shot and your lines all my life …. Thanks for making this WC wonderful.

  57. raja says:

    Very well written.

    I’ve been following cricket since 1974 (yes, that disastrous “42 all out” tour of England).

    Have followed every single World Cup, from the Gavaskar crawl of 1975 through Kapil’s 175-driven 1983 to #wellofcourse’s “Nehra gives us options” WC2011. :-)

    All I can say is we’ve come a long, long way from those early years of self-doubt to where we are today. I can guarantee you a 31/2 chasing 275 would be 10/10 chance of #epicfail in those early years. That one achievement alone says a lot to me about how far we’ve come.

    Let me not go on and on. Just want to say this is beautifully written. It traces the history of our progress through the 90s, into the noughties and into 2011 very well.

    Absolutely loved your “Basel-based” experience of the India-Pak game too. Funniest.Piece.Ever.

    Keep writing. You’re a pleasure to read.

    • sidvee says:

      Thanks Raja. Just a clarification – I didn’t write that Basel-based piece. That was written by sidin vadukut. Thanks

      • raja says:

        Sorry, my mistake! (I refuse to say “my bad”. Call me old-fashioned. :-)).

        That may be sidin vadukut’s article but I do like your sense of humour too. Spontaneous and sparkling. Loved the “Nehra gives us options” tag.:-) Keep writing!

  58. Asma says:

    You’re really good while picking your words and writing amazing:)

  59. Sanjukta says:

    I remember seeing Kapil’s 4 sixes in a row, no one will ever forget it until the end of time. And even this time, after Sachin was gone, I said its over. I was reminded of the 1996 semi finals when Kambli cried after the match was awarded to SL. I thought we just going to crumble one after the other but…history was made.
    I wrote about the euphoria in India Gate on my blog. Do read. http://wp.me/p1xyZ-LZ

  60. Deboshri says:

    An exemplary expression of the wid ecstasy of that glorious night…and a fateful wait of twenty-eight years. Applause!

  61. Avi says:

    Of all the articles that I have read after this World cup victory(and I have read quite a few),this is the worst one.Don’t understand why people of our nation are so fascinated by individuals rather than looking at the bigger picture of the nation…Obviously the person doesn’t have a liking for MS Dhoni…but was made to eat his words after the final.

  62. aishwarya says:

    Like so many others here, am also a 29 year old, and it was so nice to read exactly our sentiments. The other lump in throat moment for me in the celebrations was Kumble holding the cup and dhoni acknowledging the quartret. To think of it, I just wish Dhoni had come in when Sachin , saurav, dravid, kumble were all at their pick, I simply think that all they lacked was a leader and they were all forced to take the mantle..so happy for sachin though, his tears will be etched in our memories forever!Thanks to you for letting us relive all that we hv gone thru as cricket fans:-)

  63. dave says:

    Summer of 83 all I remember was my parents were over at friends place to watch the final together and maybe in color. I remember firecrackers and the shouts of joy. I was was 9 yrs old and did not realize the significance of the win. I was happy that other kids were happy. The significance did not sink in until many years later. Then I have vague memories of the ‘87 games. The 1996 semi final is very clear in memory because I was in Eden Gardens watching it and contributed a bottle to the many thrown on the ground. We were gutted and I can understand why we did what we did. 2003 is also very clear as I watched many games and then the final. What a massacre that was. Tendulkar says that the seeds to win the cup were sown in that humiliation. 2007 was an aberration, a nadir. No one had any expectations after that. But then Dhoni had other plans. He metamorphized into a game changer. The T20 cup and then now the world cup. It is a full circle. Our cup of joy runneth over.

    How did you celebrate? I cannot believe you or me were not in Mumbai to be there watching it and then be out on the streets to soak in the emotions of a lifetime.

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  66. Mee says:

    Absolutely luuuved this post
    It was like a musical- that started upbeat and broke into a crescendo which was magical. I re-lived (one again) the Finals of the WC – TY!:)
    So utterly proud of Dhoni and indeed he/hisbat had a feel, a la Kapil-esq, in the thundering powerful gutsy strokes he played.

  67. Rohan Bhalerao says:

    What will i say? I am CRYING… Literally crying… Tears are flowing down my cheek… How on earth had i not read your articles before today??? I am feeling like u have put in every emotion from THAT day in this article…! For my entire life, i will remain indebted to every moment which helped me fall in love with this game of cricket and helped me reach that ULTIMATE ORGASM on 2nd April, 2011. Probably, i will never be happier in my life than those moments after Dhoni struck that six..!

  68. Sarath Chandra says:

    An year and bit down the line, i am flabbergasted at how things have played out. Yes the 8-0 hurts, hurts badly. But what is more tragic is the place the wc victory has come to occupy in our collective psyche. Firstly, there was no time to savour the victory and then the 8-0 happened. It pains me immensely when the wc victory is now belittled. Whatever it was the wc was not a fluke. I am convinced that it was a product of tremendous hard work, absolute desire and most importantly team work. We won the world cup because we were the best team out there. Nobody did us any favours. We Deserved it!

    The more i think about it, the more convinced i am that it was the end of a cycle. A cycle that started with ganguly somewhere in the early 2000’s. It was a closure. Absolute. We thought it wold be the beginning of a new one but no such luck. So be it.

    What i am trying to say is that i will never stop being grateful to the team of wc 2011 for what they have given me. The 8-0 doesn’t take away anything from the achievement. So, thank you msd, thank you sachin. thank you yuvi, thank you zak, thank you kirsten and thank you all the rest of you.

    Perhaps time will heal all wounds. Perhaps a few years down the line we will be able to think about the wc 2011 and not follow it up with 8-0. Perhaps, one day in the future, wc2011 will find its rightful place. But i have made my peace.

    P.s. The argument that we won because it was at home doesn’t hold water. It is all the more special because of that. Remember we are the first team to do it.

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