“Dhoni ! Finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lifts the World Cup after 28 years, the party starts in the dressing room. And it’s an Indian captain who has been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final! ”Ravi Shastri (2nd April,2011)
If you’re a cricket fan, you know what these lines mean to us. You will never be able to forget even a single word of what Ravi Shastri had quoted on that beautiful 2nd of April, 2011 when I saw the entire India unite in front of my eyes. I was 11 years old then, just like many of you all who might be reading this piece.
Unaware of what cricket means to us, Indians, I had painted my face in the tri-colour, and sat with my friends, with a projector screen telecasting the live match in front of us. Didn’t know that evening was going to change my life forever. I remember having Pav Bhaji (an Indian favorite fast food) when Virender Sehwag got LBW and Sachin Tendulkar returned back to the pavilion.
I didn’t know or understand the intensity or importance of that match, until the very last ball when MS Dhoni hit Nuwan Kulasekra out of the park at Wankhede, barely 30 kms away from my home. The next 3 hours? I remember as clearly as a crystal. We rejoiced. We shouted, screamed, went nuts with happiness. I saw people crying, I saw people out on the streets with the Indian flag in their hand. I saw people dance to the beats of drums, as if It was a Baarat (a marriage procession in India).
We were in cars, driving. And all the roads were jam-packed. People had halted, people were on car roofs, singing the national anthem. Everyone was together. That night there existed no religion, no caste, no creed. No one cared. Everyone rejoiced as Indians.
That’s when I realized the power of cricket. It had the power to bring together 1.3 billion people together. Ever since, I have fallen in love with this game. It has made me fall in love with its beauty, its elegance, its intensity, the attitude that it carries with itself. There were evenings when I have found solace in Virat and Rohit batting together, when Ishant and Bhuvneshwar have made Australian batsmen dance to their tunes, in Australia.
Cricket isn’t just a game for me anymore. It’s a part of me. I have screamed in happiness when in 2017, 2019 Mumbai Indians went on to win the IPL title on the last ball, when Dinesh Karthik hit that last ball six in the Nidahas Trophy final, when Hitman hit 264, when Shami took that hattrick against Afghanistan in the 2019 WC. I have cried, and felt goosebumps when Sachin Tendulkar gave his farewell speech on Wankhede in Nov, 2013. I have had teary eyes when I saw biopics of Dhoni, Sachin.
Cricket has taught me to feel, to handle what I feel, and to cherish it.
Cricket is love.
(A 20 y/o who loves cricket as much as you all.)