It was 3rd April 2011, a bright sunny day with birds chirping outside, everything glittering with sunshine. Though, it was a Monday, everything would have that extra rush. Like, even the most mundane work of going to the market becomes hectic because it’s Monday, and there’s the traffic which adds up to the vows made. But it felt like everything was tuned down. Even though it was hectic, people didn’t complain, they didn’t want to ruin their moods, and a big reason for that was the hangover from the previous night, where they witnessed one of their life’s greatest moments. 2nd April 2011, a day which was going to be written down in history with golden letters.
It was the final match of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup between India and Sri Lanka. A one-and-a-half months-long tournament was coming to its glorious end. And what better way could have it ended than to stage off a final showdown between the two host nations. The 2011 World Cup was hosted by India, Sri Lanka and for the first time in Bangladesh. And on top of that, it was a Sunday. Not a single soul could be found on the streets that day from noon onwards. I still remember during the first innings, I ran off along with my elder brother and a few of my friends to my cousin’s home nearby and requested him to draw the Indian flag on our faces. He was a painter and gladly accepted our request and did his brushwork on our small little cheeks. I was 10 years old at that time. As soon as the work was done on all our faces, we ran off to watch the match back home. It was planned that we will watch the match at our Mamaji’s place. They had a 32-inch screen TV at their home which they decided to put up in front of their house at the gates so that the passerby can catch a glimpse of the action, as well as the neighbours can enjoy the match on the big screen. As expected, the crowd started to gather around as the match progressed and dusk began to settle. No one wanted to cherish this moment locked up in the confines of their walls.
Up until this point I was used to playing cricket as most other kids do, for fun and games. But something that night changed my outlook towards this particular sport. As a nation which worships cricket, it was quite obvious that I couldn’t miss overlooking this sport while growing up. But it was World Cup we were talking about. The last time India won the tournament was in 1983 and the recent we played the finals was in 2003 when we lost to Australia. So it was quite evident that everyone had their hopes high this time, that the boys were finally going to bring back home; the cup. And as the match was nearing its penultimate stage, my younger self experienced things which it cannot put into words. “MS Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years! The party start in the dressing room” those were the exact words said by the legendary commentator Ravi Shastri when Dhoni hit the ball for a six over the long-on. And as soon as the ball landed in the stands, everyone present at Mamji’s place burst into a state of euphoria. It was a scene I have never seen before nor will I ever see and I still yearn to relive those moments. It was a once-in-a-lifetime collective celebration that one becomes part of only through the medium of sports and nothing else. So were the scenes all over the country. From the very old to the very young, everyone was out in the streets with the Tiranga in their hands waving as high as they could. And this is how at that ripe age, I came to realise what that sport meant to the people, it was more than a sport.
And when I look back now and think of those moments I realise even more that I was there, I saw it, I saw the night I fell in love.