Saturday, 9 April 2011

April 2nd 2011

The white ball flew into the night sky. A beautiful arc. Way out beyond boundary and into the stands.

The country erupted.

28 years is a long time to wait for anything.

Despite all the grime and slime that surrounds professional cricket today here was something to savor.

India are world champions.

Not something we are used to roll trippingly off the tongue. Not something that we hear often.

Given our long hiatus in mediocrity any victory is sweet.

The mind flashes back to 1983. The unbelievable feat of beating the invincible West Indian cricket team at Lords in London.

I was in Bihar at the time and read about it via day-old issues of The Telegraph from Calcutta. With each step that the team made I thought that this was the end. It couldn't get better. We were after all the team that regulalry was battered. That strove to grind out a drawn test match. Where winning was an alien word.

But it did. Kapil Dev's toothy smile, frozen in the black and white shots of the time. Carrying that massive silver cup. A whole new universe opened up. India and winners. Unthinkable till then.


And so we come back to the night of April 2nd - Anno Domini 2011.

The night when the white ball sliced the sky and the fireworks went on and on.

It was the end of a superb birthday for me.

The morning started with flowers and cards and gifts and kisses from Sheba and Asha and Enoch.

Phone calls from Amma and Appa and from Mum and Dad. Blessings and prayers. Isaiah 41.8-12.

Enough for the whole day to have ended right there.

But it just got better and better.

The morning was spent with my dear fellow-elders from the group of house-churches where we worship.

It was such an honour to host them in our flat for our monthly meeting where we shared about what God is doing in the various parts of our family of faith. Each of these dear men are worth their weight in gold many times over. Quietly doing the work of helping move us all forward. We talked and prayed and thought and prayed. By the time 2 pm had rolled around we were all treated to a lovely lunch by Sheba.

Then an afternoon of rest. Cleaning up. Badminton with the kids.

Since our phone lines were down there was no question about 'listening' to the World Cup finals on the internet as we had been doing till then. We had to find a home willing to host us.

The home of Rolly and Doris Jayakar- where one of our house-fellowships meet - was the obvious choice. A call and we had invited us to the 2nd half of the match.

We dressed in whatever blue we could find (not too much in the Eicher household it seems). Enoch's plastic cricket bat and ball (in appropriate flourescent colours) and a make shift turban completed our outfit. We were reading for the game.

When we got to Rolly and Doris' home Sri Lanka had already batted beautifully to get 275 runs on the board. Our men were batting and A wicket was already gone of our dear Indians. As we settled down we saw Sachin Tendulkar edge the ball off a vicous Lasith Malinga ('the Slinga') delivery - into the happy hands of the Sri Lankan captain for another out.

In the bad old days we would have now switched off the TV. Because we knew what was next. Once Sachin was out there was no hope.

But this night was going to be different. This was finally a team.

And so while the camera zoomed in on various celebrities and their spouses burying their heads - we were given a nail-biting lesson in tenacity as Gautam Ghambir and Virat Kohli stuck it out. Intelligent batting. A run here. A shot there. Shepherding their time. Moving forward. When Kolhi went, it was time for MS Dohni to come in.

Our cricket captain has been called 'Captain Cool' for some time. This night we saw why. Playing the innings of his life Dhoni warmed up slowly. A shot here. Another there. Then a four. And another. His bat - so silent for most of the tournament - did the talking. Dhoni started to cramp and had to get medical attention at one point - but he didn't call for a runner - preferring to do it himself.

As our room shouted encouragements towards Wankede stadium, we started seeing the overs tick by, and team India come closer and closer to the goal. Guatam Gambhir ended his brilliant innings just short of a century - but by then our nervousness was slowly draining out as we allowed ever greater doses of belief to seep in.

A few overs later Dhoni faced the Sri Lankan bowler with 4 runs left to win the match and the right to hoist the cup.

His shot went high into the night sky. Far beyond the reach of any eager fielders' hands. Right into the heart of 1.21 billion fellow countrymen who started the partying.

Andi and Anil Sainani celebrate the win

Sheba, Enoch and Asha with Doris Jayakar (pics courtesy of Juanita Jayakar)

It was 11 PM. We had supped with the Jayakars. We went down to get an auto rickshaw home.

There were none to be had.

Everyone was celebrating. People driving down the road honking horns. Fireworks going off. Shouting. Some had their shirts off and were waving around. Flags flying out of the doors of cars and being waved from the backs of motor-cycles (including a few saffron ones - don't know what that had to do with the team).

We walked back home. Cars scooted past with people out to celebrate.

We were charged by a bull.

Yes you read it right.

When we passed a small group of cows - a juvenile bull challenged us with a short charge. I don't think he was celebrating the World Cup win. The crackers may have just been too much for this small group of bovines. We gave the little herd a wide berth and continued our happy wandering home.

We got home just before April 2nd came to an end.

A good day all around.

1 comment:

  1. Certainly a birthday to remember Andi! May there be many more!