When India Won the World Cup: My memories of Mumbai, April 2, 2011
The night when I saw Sachin Tendulkar cry.
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That night I saw Tendulkar cry.
The scorching summer sun welcomed a sea of blues to the iconic Wankhede Stadium on the morning of April 2, 2011. India was hosting its most significant cricket match later that evening and they had come from all corners of the country to witness history.
History was created in style and India celebrated as it had never before.
The 1987 World Cup final was played at the Eden Gardens but India hadn't made it to the title clash. 24 years later, India had smashed Australia in the quarterfinals and outwitted Pakistan in the semifinals to set up a final against Sri Lanka — in the 1996 World Cup semifinal, Sri Lanka's spinners were all over India on a raging turner at the Eden Gardens. Vinod Kambli was in tears when the World Cup semifinal was called off after crowd trouble.
15 years after that nightmare, India had the chance to bury the ghosts of the past.
India's young generation which had grown up worshipping Sachin Tendulkar and moved to idolising MS Dhoni did not see Kapil's Devils lift the World Cup at Lord's after stunning the mighty West Indies.
The night we saw Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni shed tears of joy. (Source: Reuters)
April 2, 2011, would create those moments. There was nervous energy in Mumbai. Marine Drive was festive. And all roads led to the Wankhede.
And it was going to be a night to remember.
I remember walking to the Wankhede that day, hours before the first ball had been bowled. The energy was at its zenith by early afternoon. They couldn't wait any longer. The press box was packed and it looked the stands had been packed to the rafters.
Movie stars, politicians, business tycoons — they were there in numbers.
What if India lost? What if they lost a World Cup final at home? But those thoughts were put aside.
Sri Lanka is a friendly country. They are friendly people and a few Sri Lankan journalists that afternoon promised to buy me a drink no matter what happened — they sensed India's tension. The Sri Lankans were happy to be part of cricket's biggest party.
Once MS Dhoni blasted Kulasekara over long-on to seal the win, the party had officially started.
The Saturday night of April 2, 2011, when the team — and the nation — celebrated. (Source: Reuters)
Sachin Tendulkar wept tears of joy. Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag celebrated like teenagers. A young cricketer named Virat Kohli felt at home with the legends who would go on to become his fan.
I was not ready for what came later. I was speaking with Sourav Ganguly moments before India's press conference and he was almost mobbed by a group of Indian fans - they remembered. He was the man who made India believe they could win a World Cup again.
Marine Drive is a beautiful beachside promenade but that night, it was exotic. Tens of thousands had gathered to celebrate the World Cup triumph. Indian and Sri Lankan flags waived alongside. Indian and Sri Lankan fans sang, danced and cheered together. What a moment that was.
I have been to Mumbai several times after but never again has Marine Drive looked so alive.
The World Cup came home 8 years ago. It was a night to cherish.
When we brought the cup home and history was made. (Source: Reuters)
The players were whisked away and I joined up with the rest of my colleagues — they were brothers who had promised to celebrate history together. And we did.
In the early hours of April 3, we snuck out to eat and take in the air of Mumbai which smelt of triumph.