Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan shouldered the burden of carrying a tricolour-wielding Sachin Tendulkar on a spontaneous victory lap around the Wankhede Stadium the night India clinched World Cup 2011.
Balwinder Sandhu, member of the 1983 WC-winning squad, describes that act as one of two defining moments for Indian cricket. He reasons: “Kohli and Pathan showed young India’s appreciation of the contribution by Sachin Tendulkar to Indian cricket. It was a way of demonstrating respect to a senior, older player who has done so much for the nation. The scene of the two carrying him on shoulders is one of two defining moments for Indian cricket, after Kapil Dev lifting the 1983 World Cup at Lord’s.”
Sandhu explains the implications of the two highs, 1983 and 2011, for India as a nation. “The win under Kapil gave Indians an attitude. He showed all of us that if you put heart and soul into any work, any profession, excellence can be achieved. It inspired a generation. Now MS Dhoni’s achievement will show a generation of young Indians the way to becoming best in the world.”
Tendulkar deserved to be on a World Cup-winning squad, says the ex-India seamer who watched the India vs Sri Lanka finale in a television studio. “Sachin had a dream of being part of a World Cup-winning team. He worked over the years towards it, now he can enjoy the feeling,” said Sandhu, for whom the significance of a World Cup triumph in 1983 sunk in on landing.
The 2011 World Cup final was held in Mumbai and live television coverage multiplied the euphoria effect across the nation. “We realised how important a World Cup victory was for Indians, how each one felt proud and happy. The feeling is the same now after the second World Cup win, cricket setting off celebrations is a pleasant sight for people stressed out due to scams exposed daily.”
WC 2011 was Tendulkar’s sixth in a row, at 38 years is a veteran on Dhoni’s squad. He bridged the generation gap on the strength of achievement and humility, but to see 23-year-old Kohli or 29-year-old Pathan displaying reverence for a senior in such transparent way in front of a worldwide audience was a heartening visual for Sandhu in times where the divide between traditional ideas and new thinking is widening.
Dhoni’s captaincy is a mix of bold and stubborn decisions, Sandhu emphasises on the intent. “Team India under Dhoni is doing well because the captain’s intentions are good, decisions are based on cricketing logic and he thinks outside-the-box. People may feel certain decisions are illogical, but most cricketing decisions are done on basis of illogical thinking. You can’t go by the book always and expect results.”
Cricket’s utility as an unifying force in India is another point the India seamer would like to drive home. “A leader like Dhoni who can guide people in the right direction is vital for India to become a world beater. The 2011 WC squad had players belonging to different religions but the captain kept them together. The World Cup victory is a lesson for those in power with ambitions to become national leaders.”
Sandhu is also happy for coaches like Ramakant Achrekar, known as Tendulkar’s mentor. “Having trained under Ramakant Achrekar, I was happy to give him the joy of seeing one of his students on World Cup-winning squad in 1983. I’m happy to see players who I worked with over the years in Ranji Trophy for Mumbai, Baroda and at the National Cricket Academy, doing their part in India’s second WC victory.”
For the ex-India seamer, the Wankhede win is a dream come true. “I have a few unfulfilled dreams. One of them is to see this Indian team, perhaps the most talented in the last 50 years, win the World Cup in 2011,” Sandhu had written in the closing chapter of his book The Devil’s Pack about 1983 teammates, launched prior to the tournament. Dhoni’s squad made it a reality, inspiring generations to come.
Keywords: 2011 cricket world cup