Saturday, April 9, 2011


I have been planning this blog for a week now, but just did not get the time to do it because of a distraction in the form of ICC's stupid decision to shut the Associates / Affiliates out of the 2015 World Cup. While that is a ridiculous decision, I will not be focusing any more on that. Instead, I will be talking in brief about the 5 men who, in my opinion, formed the backbone of India's win at the World Cup 2011.

I have listed these men in the order of importance, in my opinion:

1. Zaheer Khan
2. Yuvraj Singh
3. Gautam Gambhir
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Here are a few thoughts about each one of these men:


In my view, Zaheer Khan is the reason India stood a chance of winning the World Cup, and actually won it! The joint-leading wicket-taker at 21 wickets in the World Cup with Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi, Zak did not have a single 4- or 5-wicket haul in the World Cup. What does this tell you about him? He was consistent.

Indeed, amongst the bowlers who took 15 or more wickets in the World Cup, only Zaheer Khan and Tim Southee took at least 1 wicket in each match they played. To analyse further, Zak took at least 2 wickets in 8 of the 9 matches he played in - the only one in which he got only 1 wicket was the only match that India lost - against South Africa (though I do feel the urge to mention here that that wicket was of his bunny Graeme Smith)!

He held India's bowling together, and got wickets almost whenever the match seemed to be getting away from India's grip. His slower knuckle ball was almost impossible to read and was very effective against the left-handed batsmen. And not to forget, his reverse swing was phenomenal - that pinpoint reverse swinging yorker to nail Andrew Strauss LBW allowed India to come back and earn a tie in that match, which seemed to have completely gone out of hand.

An average of 18.76 and an economy rate of 4.83, accompanied by 4 maidens (3 of which came in his first spell of the World Cup Finals) tell a tale of a champion bowler. Given that he achieved all this on tracks that first assisted batsmen, then spinners and then pacers, those figures just glow brighter! He may have been a little expensive in the three knock out matches, but the value of that brilliant start in the Finals against the most prolific opening partnership of the World Cup just cannot be understated. A fast bowler, whose new-ball spell figures in a World Cup Finals read 5 overs - 3 maidens - 6 runs - 1 wicket, is someone special!

India could have won this World Cup with one batsman less, one spinner less, maybe even one man in the XI less... but never with one Zaheer Khan less!


Man of the Tournament! This cricketer was struggling for form, fitness and possibly even inspiration for the better part of 2010. He lost his place in the Indian squad in both forms of the game, fell prey to injuries, and was criticised by almost everyone, myself included. But despite this criticism, I am happy to say that I never lost faith in his match-winning abilities. I still have in record on my Google Buzz the reply I had written to a friend who had asked me why I though Yuvraj Singh was so important to India's World Cup cause long before the World Cup had begun (I think it was even before the South Africa tour, not sure)!

On pure potential alone, he is arguably amongst India's finest match-winners in the limited overs version of the game. And this was with the bat alone! But the way his bowling came along in this World Cup eased India's bowling worries in a HUGE manner. Out of his 15 wickets, the first 7 came against the non-Test playing Ireland and Netherlands, but the next 8 came against all former World Champions - 2 each against West Indies (Chennai), Australia (Ahmedabad), Pakistan (Mohali) and Sri Lanka (Mumbai).

Batting-wise, he started the tournament cautiously and acknowledged as such (when he won the Man of the Match against Ireland) that he was still not finding the fluency to be able to score at run-a-ball. But it came good and at its best over the past 2 years in a do-or-die knock out run chase in the Quarter Finals against Australia, where he guided India to a win in a tricky run chase.

To me, the most heartening aspect of his knock there was the way he guided Suresh Raina in that unbroken partnership, which started when the hopes had again started dwindling. Raina was looking nervous when he entered... he was sledged a bit by Shaun Tait... and attacked with bouncers at ferocious pace. And unnoticed by a lot of people, Yuvraj Singh kept on talking to Suresh Rania whenever he looked edgy, and it was almost a kind-of reminder to the Chennai Test of 2008 against England, where Tendulkar had played the elder-brother role to Yuvraj Singh in a difficult, yet successful, run chase (given that he had been 'sledged out' in the first innings).

This was clearly Yuvraj 2.0, a newer and more mature version, who gathered 4 Man of the Match trophies, and broke down when it dawned on him that India had won the World Cup. When Harbhajan Singh cried in the finals, it did not make a lot of difference to me. But when I saw Yuvraj Singh sobbing uncontrollably into Sachin Tendulkar's left shoulder, I became teary-eyed myself. This fellow has etched his name in history, and deservedly so!


Ian Chappell was of the opinion that Gambhir did not fit into the Indian XI. He was made to eat humble pie when Gambhir ended up being just 3 runs short of what could arguably have been a World Cup Finals Man-of-the-Match winning performance.

But before talking about his wonderful innings in the Finals, one must not forget the very vital contribution he made to India's successful chase against Australia in the Quarter Finals at Ahmedabad. A fine knock of 50 runs before his recurrent problem of running between the wickets came back to haunt him, and had him run out on the third attempt! His partnership with Virat Kohli in that match, though short-lived, was one of the highlights of that chase for me, simply because of the ease with which these two youngsters milked the Australian bowling around!

And now the last knock of 97. Just take in the situation - World Cup Finals, 0 for 1, opposition completely charged up with momentum, Sehwag out, a difficult chase, immense pressure, a quality fast bowler to face first up - that was no place for the weak-hearted!

For a major part of 2010, Gambhir too, like Yuvraj, was suffering from some injuries and a little bit of dip in form. Voices calling for his ouster from the team had grown from faint whispers to buzzing murmurs. A couple hundreds against the visiting Kiwis helped get his form back, and a couple of solid knocks in Tests in South Africa in extremely difficult conditions against the best bowling attack in the world, must have helped build a lot of confidence.

Four half-centuries and the second-highest run-scorer for India in a successful World Cup campaign, with a BIG role in the victory in World Cup finals was a deserving result. At Wankhede, the standout part of his innings was the way he resisted his urge to go inside out over the cover region to the three Sri Lankan off-spinners after he had been let off once early in the innings to that stroke. He saw that Sangakkara had set a very intelligent field for that very shot, with a straight-ish deep extra cover and a long off. That shot must have still been very tempting because of the three off-spinners in operation and the fact that it has been very productive for him in the past. But he resisted - he swept, he paddle-swept, he did a lot of things that he doesn't normally do (like dive in to make his ground on a tight second run) - but he stayed in there till the match was quite comfortably in India's reach!

One couldn't have asked for more from him at No. 3 for India. He consolidated and he attacked when least expected, both with great success. And though a few experts kept shaking their head in disapproval on his selection, he made sure that he had the last laugh!


482 runs, second-highest run-scorer in the World Cup, highest for India, strike rate of 92, 2 centuries and 2 fifties, and the most sixes hit by an Indian in this World Cup (8) - all this just before turning 38 years of age. In his record-equaling 6th World Cup appearance, a winner's medal was what he deserved and what he achieved!

His centuries may be remembered for the wrong reasons of non-winning causes, but do not play down the mastery in their construction. In both those hundreds, Sachin Tendulkar decided to take the attack to the opponent's best bowler. At Bangalore, he blasted two consecutive sixes off Graeme Swann's first two balls of a new spell to send a signal to Strauss that his best bowler means nothing to him! At Nagpur, he pulled a Dale Steyn bouncer for a six to backward square leg to tell him that his pace and ferocity meant nothing and that he could be easily blunted! It is a pity, a real shame, that both these matches were not won by India, for these hundreds deserved to be called match-winning ones for their sheer quality.

In the Quarter Finals against Australia, his 53 might look a moderate score, but it was the second-highest in India's innings, bettered only by Yuvraj Singh's winning hit for 4 that moved him to 57*. He gave India a brisk start and held fort with Gambhir after Sehwag fell relatively early in that chase. His attack on Shaun Tait in his very first over sent his radar wayward, which eventually proved to be a pressure-releasing factor for India in a lot of crunch moments later in the match.

In the Semi Finals against Pakistan, his only Man-of-the-Match performance in this World Cup, he scored an error-strewn 85 aided by five lives. Irrespective of the manner of those runs, it was his innings and that of Suresh Raina's at the end that eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. In the final analysis, Sachin Tendulkar and Misbah-ul-Haq had very similar strike rates, but the superiority with which Tendulkar paced his innings despite the obvious discomfort in picking Ajmal's spin proved to be a crucial factor at the end.

He may have failed in the Finals, with just 18 runs off 12 balls... but he did provide early indication as to which bowler will be the easiest to attack for India. And that glorious straight drive off Nuwan Kulasekara was one for the ages! This man will stop scoring consistently only on The Judgement Day!


A lot of times in the past, MS Dhoni has been praised by the 'experts' for even his smallest and most insignificant of moves. A lot of times in the past, I have just brushed these comments aside and as I always do, formed my own opinion with my perspective. But on the night of 2nd April 2011, it was all very different! On that night, Mahendra Singh Dhoni played a knock that will be fondly placed as one of the very best in limited overs cricket under ENORMOUS pressure in the annals of not only Indian cricket, but also the World Cup cricket.

Had he not promoted himself over Yuvraj Singh to play the trio of Sri Lankan off-spinners, I may not even have placed his name in this list. But that sharp bit of captaincy followed by a knock of immense maturity, devoid of a single careless shot, has gained MS Dhoni an entry into this and numerous other lists. The surreal clam with which he hoisted the winning six will be replayed over and over again in every household of the myriad communities in India, for nothing less than that kind of a shot would have been worthy of sealing India's historical win and Dhoni's name in a list of all-time great captains of the world!

In the euphoria of the win at Wankhede, it was very easy to forget Dhoni's contribution as a captain in the other knockout matches, especially the Quarter Finals against Australia at Ahmedabad. I have never seen Dhoni attack so much in the field in an ODI as he did against Australia on the 24th March 2011. Be it Ricky Ponting nearing his century or a rusty Cameron White, MS Dhoni was relentless in applying enormous pressure to their batsmen. An eventual score of 260 was in a big way, the result of some fine captaincy by Dhoni.

In the semi-finals too, against Pakistan, Dhoni did well to attack the batsmen in the middle overs. In this match, his attack was not focussed on taking wickets. Rather, he set his close fields very close, and his deep fields very deep, to ensure that the boundaries as well as singles are minimised. Since Pakistan is not reputed for athleticism, the chances of conceding a lot of twos was minimal. And the introduction of Harbhajan Singh to grab the wicket of Umar Akmal was a vindication of captain's gut feel!

An average World Cup with the bat, illuminated by an innings of abnormal calm and composure in the Finals, MS Dhoni has finally helped India get hold of the biggest prize that limited overs cricket has to offer - after 28 years of long and sometimes agonising wait!

Friday, April 8, 2011


This post is inspired by Russell Degnan's 'Potential World Cup Formats' post on his wonderful blog Idle Summers. He argues a strong case for a 20-team World Cup based on 4 groups of 5 teams each, and lists the merits and demerits of such a format.

There is one demerit though, in his 20-team format, (which I loved, but am sure that the ICC will not for the very reason I will now elaborate), that gains in significance with the recent ICC decision of a 10-team World Cup. The ICC wants to ensure as many matches as possible featuring the big teams like India, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and England (in terms of revenue generation). In that format, these teams can assuredly play only 4 matches, before entering the knockouts. In ICC's view, that would be regressive from the 2011 format. That is why there is a proposal to go for a 10-team round robin format in 2015.

Using a bit of inspiration from Russell's idea for groups of 5, I came up with an idea for a 15-team World Cup, where the teams are divided in 3 Groups of 5 each. Using the current ODI rankings, I have divided the three groups as such:

Now, the first round will be the Group Stages (Round Robin), where 10 games will be played in each group, and 30 games overall. Each team will play 4 matches. The top-3 in each group shall qualify for the next round. Why 3? This ensures a very low chance of a top-ranked team missing out on the next round, even if they suffer an upset in this stage. When Pakistan lost to Ireland in 2007, they exited in the first round itself because they had also lost to West Indies in their group earlier. In this scenario, if Pakistan were to lose to Ireland, but all the other matches give expected results, both these teams shall be tied on 4 points each, along with Bangladesh (assuming 2 points for a win). This will bring the NRR into play, which means that despite the upset, Pakistan will stand a chance to enter the next round.

he second round will be Super Nines, where each team will play 4 matches, resulting in a total of 18 matches. Who will play whom in these 4 matches? Here it is: A1 will play B2, B3, C2, C3; A2 will play B1, B3, C1, C3; etc. The following box will give a clearer picture:

The idea here is to ensure an easier round for those teams that finished 1st in their respective groups, and a tougher round for those that finished 3rd. Additionally, the teams that finished 1st in their groups will start this round with 4 points each, those that finished 2nd will start with 2 points each, and those that came 3rd will start at Nil.

his ensures that in the First Stage of Group Round Robin, there is every incentive for a team to finish at as high a rank as possible. Yet, if a 3rd ranked team wants to qualify for the next round after Super Nines, they can do so by winning all 4 of their matches in this round. In fact, it is possible for them to proceed even with 3 wins out of 4 (with some help from others).

ith points set as 4, 2, 0 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd ranked teams respectively, this ensures that there will not be a scenario like that of Kenya in 2003. Kenya had finished 3rd in their Group in that World Cup, yet they carried more points into the Super Sixes than the 1st and 2nd ranked teams, because they had beaten Sri Lanka (1st), and New Zealand (2nd) had forfeited their match due to security reasons. This enabled Kenya to get a head start in the Super Sixes that they did not deserve based on their Group ranking, and therefore, with one win over Zimbabwe in the Super Sixes, they managed qualification for the semi-finals.

his ensures that each team that qualifies for this round is guaranteed to play 8 matches each. Since all the big teams in terms of revenue generation are expected to qualify for this round, there should not be a problem in terms of advertising and broadcasting contracts.

he top-4 teams in Super Nines shall qualify for the Playoffs in the same format as being used in IPL 2011. The following figure illustrates it:

This again gives an incentive for each team in the Super Nines to finish at as high as rank as possible. Both the rounds (i.e. Group Stages and Super Nines) will become more competitive with extra focus on the teams' rankings.

In this format, one finalist will play 10 matches and the other one will play 11 matches. In 2011, the two finalists played 9 matches each. In the 10-team format for 2015, the two finalists will play 11 matches each. This 15-team format will contain 52 matches (30 in Group Stages, 18 in Super Nines, 3 in Playoffs and 1 Finals). This ensures that the broadcasters will be satisfied as well.

ow, lets see how long will the 52-game 15-team World Cup last. The Group stages of 30 matches can be completed in 15 days, with 2 matches on each day. However, if the big matches (i.e. matches between Seed 1 and Seed 2 in each group) are to be held singly on certain days, this stage can last up to 18 days.

The Super Nines stage has 18 matches, that should be completed in 9 days if 2 matches are played each day. However, if these matches, viz. A1 v. B2, A1 v. C2, B1 v. A2, B1 v. C2, C1 v. A2, and C1 v. B2 are to be held singly on certain days, this stage will require 12 days to be completed.

or the Playoffs, 3 separate days will be necessary, and 1 day for the Finals. If the itinerary is planned well, there will not be a need to add any rest days in between the Group stages and the Super Nines stage. Despite no gap, each team will assuredly have at least 2 days between successive matches, as is the current practice. A 1-day gap between Super Nines stage and Qualifier 1, another 1-day gap between the Eliminator match and Qualifier 2, and a 2-day gap before the Finals ensure that the tournament shall last no longer than 38 days.

While the length may seem a tad too much, it can be reduced to 5 weeks (i.e. 35 days) by making the Group stages more efficient and finish them off in 15 days. The World Cup will have low number of meaningless games as at each stage, an incentive to finish high has been given to the teams. Add to it the fact that it will allow exposure to 5 Associate nations on the big stage (in this case 4 Associates and 1 Affiliate, since Afghanistan is still an Affiliate Member of the ICC), which is the very purpose for which I thought of this format!


(L to R): Rarva Dikana (Papua New Guinea), Akbar Baig (Uganda), Khurram Khan (United Arab Emirates), Craig Williams (Namibia), Najeeb Amar (Hong Kong), David Hemp (Bermuda)
These are the captains of the 6 teams that will take part in the World Cricket League Division Two tournament, organised by the ICC and hosted by UAE, starting today (8th April 2011). Incidentally, this is a 50-over tournament. If the ICC really has no plans to give these men a chance to dream of playing in a 50-over World Cups, then why hold such tournaments?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


By now, we all know about ICC's ridiculous decision to keep the Associates out of the 2015 World Cup to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The fact that they have decided on a 10-team World Cup restricted to the 10 Full Members of the ICC only for the 2015 edition means that it will be the first time in the history of Cricket World Cups that not a single non-Test playing nation shall take part. Amongst all the regressive decisions taken by the world body, this is second to none.

There is outrage and disgust over this decision. A lot of tweets have been addressed to ICC's official twitter feed. A new Twitter Feed by the name of Cricket Justice has been formed by people against this decision. People have been writing to the ICC, and its commercial partners, to express their anger and non-support to this decision. In fact, even I intend to email them in a day or two. I don't know if all this will make a difference, but I intend to play my part in any way (howsoever small) that I can!

The most important bit, which I would like all my viewers to do (if they have not already done it), is to sign this online petition initiated by Tim. I have put in my signature and the message already (No. 243), and last I checked, there were more than 900 people who had signed in their support to the petition. Please do the same.

Another very important measure that we must all undertake in our own small ways is show more interest in the cricket played by these 'minnows'. I will not be large on the blogging or tweeting scene over the next two months because of upcoming examinations, but I will definitely follow the matches of the World Cricket League Division 2 (starting 8th April), ICC Americas Division 2 World Twenty20 Qualifiers (starting 10th April) and other World Cricket League Divisions / World Twenty20 Qualifications / Intercontinental Cup fixtures a great deal more than I have done in the past, and I urge everyone to do the same for the benefit of our game.

I hope and pray that ICC takes cognizance of this outrage and disgust that people world over have shown towards this decision, and moves towards changing it. This decision has obviously been taken by the Boards of all the Full Member nations together, and is quite obviously intended towards the protection of the weaker ones amongst the Full Member nations. Given that ICC has 105 members registered as 10 Full Members, 35 Associates and 60 Affiliates, this decision really does come as a huge setback to the sport.

Here is what the Irish coach Phil Simmons had to say about this: "I'm afraid the next World Cup will be like the American World Series - you are crowned World Champions but the world did not take part - congratulations to India on winning the last real World Cup. Finally - congratulations to ICC for pulling the game we love back ten years!"

It's not just 10 years... it's a lot worse!

(P.S.: Please DO NOT FORGET to sign the petition, if you have not already done so!)


Everyone has been forming their World Cup XI from the recently-concluded World Cup 2011, where India were crowned the World Champions (wow... feels so nice to write this!).

I decided to form my own XI too, and in fact, unlike the ICC and Cricinfo, I decided to go further and list my team of XV for the World Cup. But before that, lets take a look at both ICC's and Cricinfo's team for the World Cup.

ICC TEAM: T Dilshan (SL), S Tendulkar (Ind), K Sangakkara (SL), M Jayawardene (SL), AB de Villiers (SA), Y Singh (Ind), S Watson (Aus), S Afridi (Pak), D Steyn (SA), Z Khan (Ind), M Muralitharan (SL). 12th man: T Southee (NZ).

Cricinfo TEAM: T Dilshan (SL), S Tendulkar (Ind), K Sangakkara (SL), J Trott (Eng), AB de Villiers (SA), Y Singh (Ind), S Afridi (Pak), G Swann (Eng), D Steyn (SA), Z Khan (Ind), L Malinga (SL).

Now, here's a look at my team:

T Dilshan (SL), S Tendulkar (Ind), J Trott (Eng), K Sangakkara (SL), AB de Villiers (SA), Y Singh (Ind), R ten Doeschate (Ned), S Afridi (Pak), D Steyn (SA), Z Khan (Ind), M Muralitharan (SL).

Remaining players in the XV: R Peterson (SA), T Southee (NZ), R Taylor (NZ), R Price (Zim).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The last 2 days have been surreal. So much so that this is my fourth attempt to write a blog after India's win... and after deleting the first 3 drafts, I have decided that I will publish this one even if it does not really explain the things that are in my head.

I will go through the thoughts that erupted in my head as the day went by - the day being 2nd April 2011!

After almost a sleepless night, I got up unusually early and read everything that Cricinfo and other blogs that I follow had to offer. There was no way of getting back to sleep (which had been less even in the run up to the finals), so I thought I might as well get up and be ready in the lucky t-shirt that I wear for every India match.

Yes, God really was with us!
On the previous day, I had seen the weather forecast for this match and read that there will be wind (or rather, breeze) of 14 - 16 kmph from the west. When I had read this, I was of the opinion that Sreesanth should get a chance as the breeze will be from the direction of the sea and the moisture in that sea air will help him more than any other bowler. In fact, this also made me a bit wary of how Kulasekara would perform, for he can get some very good swing when there is assistance.

ut when the telecast began, and Harsha Bhogle had a chat with those present at the Wankhede Stadium, I realised that there was no breeze at all. Not one bit! The shirts and ties of the men there were not moving an millimeter. And my thoughts changed immediately. In these conditions, R Ashwin was a shoo in for me.

hen the toss happened, it was frustrating. But what surprised me was that even MS Dhoni showed his frustration. There was a very perfunctory shake of hands with Sangakkara before he turned his back to him in what was obvious show of dissatisfaction. That kind of convinced me that Dhoni must have won the first toss, but as it later turned out, it was Sangakkara indeed who had won both the tosses. So all well here!

 was disappointed slightly by the fact that India would have had to bowl first, yet confident that India will be able to restrict Sri Lanka to less than 260, a score which I thought India should be able to chase keeping in my mind the occasion.

aheer Khan started brilliantly. Even Sreesanth started fairly, despite his second ball no-ball. When Sehwag caught Tharanga, for a moment, I was under the impression that the ball had reached him on the bounce, and then I saw Zaheer celebrating with his arms spread. And I celebrated too, because the statistically best opening partnership of the World Cup had been broken.

ilshan briefly threatened to shine, before he succumbed to the pressure created due to tight bowling and amazing fielding. Fielding! Oh my word! To see Yuvraj Singh make that flying stop off a Dilshan drive through the off-side was a throwback to the era of Ganguly's captaincy. It almost felt as if we had the younger version of Yuvraj Singh back in the team, and it was great to watch that.

hen the Sangakkara-Jayawardene partnership was flourishing, I felt that Dhoni should have brought back Zaheer Khan. His famous knuckle ball works a lot better with left-handers and Sangakkara was definitely looking the more dangerous of the two then. Eventually, he was unlucky to fall to a long hop from Yuvraj Singh, who again bowled better than what is expected out of a fifth bowler.

 was a bit disappointed to see Zaheer Khan leak runs at the end... moreover because he was genuinely bowling bad balls for that period. There were too many length balls and they were taken full toll of. A target of 275 did make me wary, but there was still confidence in the team that had chased tougher targets without a full-strength team over the past one year.

uring that short 20-minute break, I had texted a friend that in my opinion, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gamhir and Virat Kohli would be the main men in the chase. Later on, I also added Yuvraj Singh to the list. I chose SRT for the occasion, GG for his brilliant play against the spin, VK for his tremendous record in chases, and Yuvi for the obvious reason - his current form and confidence!

ehwag's dismissal disappointed me, but did not dishearten me. I was not expecting much from him due to his poor second-innings record, but a contribution greater than 0 would definitely have helped! Sachin's dismissal shook me... not the confidence of a win, but the realisation that it was not exactly going to be a fairytale if we got there. Though it was a tense situation then, I still had the confidence in the team.

he next 4 batsmen vindicated my confidence in them, and each one played a knock to remember. Gambhir was brilliant. It was a solid knock paced beautifully. He was given a reprieve when Kulasekara did not catch a difficult chance when he was on 30, but what Gambhir did after that was very impressive.

ambhir loves playing the inside out shot over extra cover to spinners, and Sangakkara had set up a trap for him there by placing a very straight-ish deep extra cover, along with a long off. After getting that reprieve, he did not attempt that shot again even once, even though he must have been very tempted to given the fact that he faced three off-spinners. He even played a conventional sweep, and I don't remember seeing him play that too many times in his entire career. He changed his game a little bit to suit the occasion, and he deserves all the accolades for that!

irat Kohli continued to show cool head and maturity in a tricky chase under pressure. Even though he was beaten on that ball, but his dismissal was still more on account of a brilliant work by a Sri Lankan rather than him making a mistake. I would have to see him get a 50, just as I would have loved to see Gambhir getting his 100, but well, I am satisfied with the World Cup!

hen Kohli was dismissed, I felt a little wobbly for the reasons that have now been discussed and dissected everywhere. I was uncertain about Yuvraj Singh coming in to face three off-spinners. And I was also uncertain about the running between the wickets of Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh together, who had had a series of mishaps in the game against Australia before Gambhir lost his wicket.

So I was quite okay to see MS Dhoni coming out to bat despite his bad form. A couple of hours later, he proved to the world that that particular move was a masterstroke from him, and played a very mature knock to guide India home. Yuvraj's assistance was also very good. There was a point after India had taken the batting powerplay when Yuvraj played 4 dot balls from Malinga. That was the moment Sri Lanka would have felt that Yuvraj is susceptible to a rash stroke. But he very coolly managed a 2 and a 1 from the next two balls to finish the over, and India knew that the Cup will soon be ours.

That winning six brought about different emotions in me. Watching alone at my house, I gave Dhoni and the team a long round of applause. But what was really touching to see was the emotions that came out then. Yuvraj in tears, unashamedly in tears! Harbhajan sobbing uncontrollably. Dhoni's twirl of the bat and then hopping madly to get a stump before Yuvraj could reach him. Kohli, Raina and Yusuf Pathan carrying Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders around the ground. The joy that was so clearly etched in Gary Kirsten's face. And then the smile of Sachin Tendulkar himself. Those were images that I am going to remember forever, and when I say forever, I mean it!

Ashish Nehra - awkward bowling action, awkward victory celebration!
After having fantasised about this moment for almost over a year now, I just did not know how to react, and I guess the members of Team India felt the same! I felt proud to be witnessing this moment, and not just proud because I am a fan of Indian cricket team, no! That would kill my joy!

 was proud of that moment in Indian cricket because I have supported Indian cricket team even through its darkest hours, like the World Cup 2007. I have had faith in these men and boys, and I have always wished for them to perform. There have been some players I have liked more than others, a lot of decisions from the captain that I have criticised, and I will continue doing so. I have and will continue pointing out shortcomings of certain players, and loopholes in our team. But through all this, I have never stopped supporting the team through its turbulent times, nor will I ever do so. I take pride in this fact!

or me, this triumph was also a vindication of the faith shown by me and many other cricket fans in our cricket team when there was criticism heaped upon them. We believed in our team when men like Steve Waugh and Allan Border tipped Sri Lanka to win the finals. We believed in our team when men like Dean Jones said that "Dhoni must be dreaming if he thinks that he can win the World Cup with a team like this". He has not been heard from since the night of 2nd April 2011.

arren Gough had said after the Ashes win that England can beat India any day of the week. We will continue to believe in our team when we tour England later this year. We will continue to believe in our team when England visit India after that. We will continue to believe!

hank you, Team India for giving the nation this wonderful victory. I place it as the biggest win in the history of Indian cricket for two reasons: A) It was achieved in the claustrophobic pressure of enormous expectations, whereas the 1983 triumph as well as the 2007 World Twenty20 triumph came when there was nothing expected from the team; B) I was born in 1988 - unable to witness the glory of 1983, so this will remain, to me, India's greatest cricketing triumph till date.

s I run out of thoughts, I would just like to say how glad I am to see the Indian team celebrate the win, and how overwhelming it is to see, as his fan, Sachin Tendulkar get a chance to lift that trophy. The respect that he has from his teammates was wonderful to see. Virat Kohli became the darling of a nation when he delivered the quote of the World Cup: "He (Sachin Tendulkar) has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years; it was time we carried him." Who cares about what Imran Khan had said earlier - that if he were Tendulkar, he would be embarrassed by all this mention of "We want to win it for Sachin" dialogue. To hear this statement coming from a man who talked only about his personal ambitions and failed to mention even a word about his team in his victory speech as a World Cup winning captain in 1992 is a blasphemy. It was also great to see how Sachin Tendulkar celebrated the win with his fan, and read about how the team's family time in the dressing room.

ell done, Sri Lanka and congratulations, India!