For posterity's sake

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Hey kiddo,

I wonder if cricket is still big in India in your time, or if football or basketball has usurped its place. Anyway, in this short letter you'll learn about a historic moment for the game, how I lived through it and simply how it felt.

Growing up, we all heard about 1983 and Kapil's devils, and photos of a grinning, mustached Kapil lifting the cup were immortalized often. We're talking about the cricket World Cup, held once every four years. 1983 was before my time, but after I'd turned 10 or so, I used to watch every World Cup, and watch India lose. Sri Lanka won under chubby Ranatunga's captaincy, and even Pakistan (oh, Pakistan) won it one year. Australia - those arrogant men, as I often considered them then - won it twice too. India would get kicked out miserably, unceremoniously, and I used to watch my grandfather switch off the TV, disappointed and retire into his bedroom. Then in 2003, magic happened - we got into the Finals. Against Australia. Twenty years after we'd won previously, and the whole nation was on tenterhooks. All until we bowled our way terribly out of any hope for victory. 2007 was disastrous, let's not even get into it - you can search online if you want to know more about it.

Then 2011 arrived. We worked our way into the Quarter Finals, with some hiccoughs along the way... drawing a match with England, losing to South Africa, but pulled off awesome wins against Australia and Pakistan.

And bloody hell, we were in the final. Against Sri Lanka. So I ended up at the same place I'd watched India beat Pakistan, at the same table, with the same people. Endless baskets of fried potatoes in various forms, towers of beer, stuffed-with-cheese pizzas went around, and we watched Sri Lanka struggle to get a good start. Until this guy called Mahela Jayawardane started getting consistent and steadily moved from 50 to 60 to (before we knew it), 100. We watched in shock as every ball in the last few overs was sent to the boundary, and ended with a target of 275 to win the World Cup.

Shocked as we were, oh well, we thought, we have Sachin and Sehwag. Sehwag then got out on the second ball. Sachin, please stay, we implored. He smashed some balls to the boundary, and then got out too. A hush fell around the pub. Then new players came in and we successfully brought the score to 30 to win from 30 balls. 27 from 24. And before we knew it, it was 15 from 12. A six, a couple of fours, and we were going deaf - party horns, cheering, whistles abounded as we finally brought it to 4 runs needed. We held our breath as Dhoni lifted the ball to the air, and the whole place exploded. People had climbed onto the bar tables, random people were hugging each other, and despite all the screaming, some idiot of a man asked me if I was Sri Lankan and if that was why I was not happy - I gave him a look of utter disbelief until I waved him off and said 'Whatever!' 28 years we had waited, and it had happened.

Anyway, we left the place we'd hogged for nearly 9 hours, ordering endless plates of food and drink. A place where we saw kids a few years younger than us - a whole batch of bimbotic (would you even know what that means, I wonder...) girls and boys who made me feel old and incredibly mature. Boys who were saying the lamest of things, and girls who were extremely unintelligent - generally and when it come to cricket (they cheered for replays of wickets without realizing they were replays; and sample 'Oh I wait for the umpire to lift his forefinger in the air before I cheer for a wicket' - please, don't ever be like this).

I wish I could tell you how it was, but imagine me, the tricolour painted on my right cheek, hands up in the air, screaming my head off, my voice breaking, jumping. I wonder if you'll ever live through the excitement of waiting for years for a win and savouring it, and whether sportsmanship is the same as it was that day (although my own parents used to tell me that it was already on the decline then). Would you ever experience  cricket like we did, the way it brought the fans, the non-fans, the seldom-watch-it-ers together, and the agony, anguish, grief and debilitating joy that it brings?

Oh well. Writing this while grinning excitedly was draining enough. And anyway, here is the gist of this story in case it didn't clearly come through given the late hour and incredible excitement: I WATCHED INDIA WIN THE WORLD CUP!!!!