ANALYSIS: Not doing so would just not be cricket! —Taimur Shaique Hussain - Tuesday, April 05, 2011

It is said that when something is begun in true earnest, the entire universe conspires to assure it reaches culmination. I take the liberty of attributing Sachin Tendulkar’s four dropped catches and two favourable reviews during the semi-final to phenomena of such nature

A few seconds past 10:15 pm on April 2, when M S Dhoni lofted the ball over the bowler’s head and cleared the boundary ‘all the way’, he successfully played the winning captain’s role of sealing permanently the fate of the ICC World Cup 2011 in a befitting and memorable fashion. Bow! Shot! Boundary! Match! Tournament! History!

What the world watched at that precise moment in time with hybrid emotions of awe, bewilderment, and, in certain cases anxiety, was maybe no more than the proverbial tip of the iceberg. While this implies that a whole lot of planning, execution, and both inspiration and perspiration had gone in, this certainly, certainly does not imply that the Indian team’s campaign for the World Cup was error-free, sturdy, robust, methodical, clinical, or perfect by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, quite the contrary.

The ultimate victors had had a poor record during the group matches, and were nowhere near the top of the league at the preliminaries, so to say. Despite the obvious advantages of home crowds, home grounds, home conditions, and undoubtedly the strongest batting line-up in a cricket format where it has traditionally been, and is even today, ultimately a batsmen’s game, matters appeared awry. For instance, many felt the captain should have batted higher up than his chosen spot at number seven. A few games of obvious import were almost surrendered in the initial round, and, consequently, the Indian side were required to play the top-most team from the ‘other’ group during the semi-final.

Team India seemed to have known all along that perfection, indeed, is only an ideal, and by its very definition beyond the reach of us mortals. Perfection happens to be the oh-so-jealously guarded definitive trait reserved solely for their own selves by the gods, the deities, by Divinity herself. Therefore, without claiming any tall claims, and much aware of the somewhat nagging undercurrents of big hopes among their populace, they seemed to have played one game at a time, maturing further along the way, and peaking only when required most — the knockout games. It is said that when something is begun in true earnest, the entire universe conspires to assure it reaches culmination. I take the liberty of attributing Sachin Tendulkar’s four dropped catches and two favourable reviews during the semi-final to phenomena of such nature.

A few minutes after the historic hit that sealed the fate of the tournament for posterity, the sight of the Indian cricket team skipper, M S Dhoni, lifting the ICC World Cup and handing it over almost instantaneously to Sachin Tendulkar, both cricketing icons drenched to the bone in champagne and drowned in the din emanating from the 35,000 odd spectators at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, will long remain etched in my memory. There is more than one reason why the symbolism of that sight has created such a long-lasting impact.

First of all, it happens to be the stuff victory and triumph is made of. However, whilst Nike, the goddess of victory, seemed to have been smiling upon and assisting India to march ahead with charmed lives, the time-tried lessons of teamwork, mutual respect, acceptance of personal responsibility and leadership by example also appeared to be at work. Dhoni’s decision to promote himself in the batting order when India had slumped to 31 for two during the final; Yuvraj’s inspired performances with the ball, not really his orthodox department, throughout the tournament; and the manner in which every single one of the champion side dedicated the World Cup to Sachin Tendulkar’s efforts for Indian and international cricket, are only a few of the very obvious examples of the dynamic, the body politic that was stringing the team together through their last three ‘crunch’ games. Agreed, the Indian side may have had the largest number of ‘stars’ or ‘heavyweights’. However, what remains important, and what ultimately was achieved, was that if an iconoclast failed to perform, another was present right there to step in and fire ‘all cylinders blazing’. It is easier for an individual to earn a name once, but what the typical Indian star exhibited was that he was capable of repetitively, continuously living up to his name whenever the moment most desired. It is indeed unparalleled for a boy of 17 to play six World Cup tournaments for his nation and harbour as much passion to succeed at 38 as he harboured as a teenager.

Notwithstanding what a journalist perhaps correctly pointed out: “The Indian public do not seem to love the game of cricket but appear to love the nationalistic euphoria of being ‘Indian’,” kudos remain due to the host nations, the sponsors, the media, the enthusiasts, and, above all, the 14 national teams that together transported all of us temporarily to a wonderland of adventure, a world of make-believe, far, oh-so-far, from the harsh realities of the real world that modern day life doles out to us. While we look forward to the year 2015 for the next cricketing extravaganza, it appears that we may have gleaned at least two salient lessons this year: the age-old lessons of sportsman’s spirit, and being able to display grace when circumstances turn out to be adverse.

Despite the political divide, it would most certainly not be odd for a Pakistani to extend a firm handshake to acknowledge and recognise the remarkable achievement of our neighbours from across the border.

I, therefore, write here on behalf of all Pakistanis, within the country and abroad, all sports lovers, and, above all, all lovers of the game of cricket all over the globe: our message of sincere felicitation and congratulations to all Indians and to team India upon winning the most coveted ICC World Cup 2011. After all, not doing so would just not be cricket!

The writer is a political columnist and shares the national passion for cricket. He can be reached at

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