On Saturday, when India and Sri Lanka were making history on the cricket ground in Mumbai, every Indian heart was beating for Dhoni and his boys. It did not matter whether you lived in India or left the Indian shores generations ago to make a new life elsewhere. If you called yourself Indian, you longed to see the Cup in the Indian skipper's hands. Whether you were Mukesh Ambani sitting in the VIP enclosure at the Wankhede stadium, or a daily wage earner eking out a living in some remote village, you yearned to see India win that evening. From toddlers barely out of their prams to grandparents confined to their wheelchairs, everybody dreamt of the Cup.
On that fateful night in Mumbai, when the captain hit the winning stroke, the thud was echoed in billions of hearts across the globe. What followed was sheer madness. People ran out on the streets in celebration. There was complete chaos. It was an emotional moment for a land that had been waiting for this conquest for a long time. And when it did happen, people had tears of joy in their eyes and lumps in their throats.
What is it that makes cricket so popular as to transcend all barriers of class, caste, gender, age and language ? Its reach is widespread and its connect with the masses phenomenal. But that does not make it any less classy either. And therein lies the magic of cricket, a game that is the darling of not just India, but the entire subcontinent.
Perhaps we enjoy seeing them do things that we could not do because of other compulsions. After all how many of us get a chance to lead such an outdoorsy life? Maybe we fulfil our wishes through them, just like parents do through their children. We take pride in their achievements because they are real heroes. We are aware of the hurdles they had to cross and the stiff competition they had to face before reaching where they are today. We know that each one of them has put in years of hard work while pursuing the game. We love them, we admire them, we dote on them because they are powerful icons of hope. They bring a lot of cheer to the people of a country that is generally starved of good news.
And who would not be happy to see their side steadily climbing the ladder of success, vanquishing legendary teams that were considered great at one time? That is precisely what happened and as India took on Sri Lanka in the finals, a nation waited with bated breath. If we jumped with joy when they inched towards victory, we fell silent when the other side seemed to dominate the game. No other entity is capable of having a hold over the collective mood of the nation as cricket is.
That is why we need cricket. It is a symbol of our oneness.