MS Dhoni's moment of glory © Getty Images
MS Dhoni’s moment of glory © Getty Images

Winning World Cup cricket is a humongous achievement. India had to wait for 28 years before they won their second World Cup. There were plenty of fans who witnessed that game, Nikhil Popat writes what the Indian fans went through during the chase to the title in the very final.

2 PM: There is a mad rush everywhere. People are trying to flock in. The toss will happen any moment. No such hurry for me, sitting calmly in front of the television set at my home, with a bottle of water next to me to make sure I do not have to get up and miss a moment of the match. The captains come out. Kumar Sangakkara is at it again. He says he did not hear the call. They re-toss (what the…?). READ: India celebrates 4 years of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 win

Sri Lanka win the toss and elect to bat. I feel doomed. Thoughts start to flow: “Is this it? The luck we needed? Now they’ll pile up a huge score, Yuvraj saved against Australia, who’ll do today?” One of the perils of being an Indian cricket fan is that the bad thoughts invariably precede the good ones.

5.45 PM: Sri Lanka have posted  274 on board. They started slowly but Mahela’s unbeaten 103 takes them to a par total. It is a final. It is a pressure game. No player has scored a century in a losing cause in a final before. Things are stacked up against India. We’re doomed, but for an Indian fan, when there is nothing, there is still hope.

6.10 PM: Tendulkar and Sehwag come out to bat. Food, check. Bottle, check. Prayers, on. Second ball of the chase. Malinga traps Sehwag in front. The umpire gives it out. Sehwag reviews (why, oh why?). He had wasted a review in the semi-final too. The review fails. India are 0/1. Fleeting memories of 2003 final return to haunt. Gambhir gets off the mark with a boundary on his first ball, due to a mis-field. Malinga smiles. My heart smiles too. Was this the luck India needed?

Tendulkar gets going with dab past backward point. Crowd erupts. There are times when nothing matters more to India than Sachin. They know they need him to score. I hope he scores today. What a fairytale it would be to win the World Cup at his home ground. He shows he is up for it. A sumptuous drive past the bowler followed by a cut to the fence. You feel he is up for it.

6.31 PM: But that man Malinga has the better of him. He edges one to Sangakkara who dives to his right and takes it. There is pin-drop silence as Malinga is mobbed by his teammates. Mind hopes Sangakkara has grassed it. No, he hasn’t. Sachin has to go. Is this the last time we’re seeing him bat? India 31/2. Virat Kohli walks in.

6.49 PM: 9 balls, no runs for Kohli. He finally gets off the mark with a fine clip to the square-leg fence. Heart feels better. Play through, just stay there with Gambhir. Kulasekara bowls a couple of bad balls in the next few overs, Gambhir and Kohli put them away. India steady now. \

7.13 PM: Gambhir looks to drive one inside-out over covers. Kula is late to react. He drops the catch. Gambhir is on 30. Is this the luck India needed?

7.35 PM: India get to 100. Dilshan comes on. Just 4 from his first over. Kohli feels the need to attack him. He manages to cut one past point for a boundary. Next ball, Kohli flicks one to long-on, those hard wrists come into play, but wait! Dilshan has just to his right and plucks out a stunner! The heart sinks. Why, Kohli, Why? A perfect example of Indian fan, you love as long as it works, the moment it doesn’t, loads of words headed your way.

7.59 PM: India need Yuvraj more than anyone now. But wait, is that MS Dhoni? Yes, it is Dhoni — but why? Yuvraj has had a superb run. And o Lord, Dhoni looks to get going with a drive off his second ball, Sanga fumbles and misses a stumping chance. The heart almost pops out and goes back to place. Is this the luck India needed?

8.15 PM: Dhoni the skipper is completely different from Dhoni the hitter who had come in the team six years back. There are a lot more nudges and all in play these days. Gambhir and Dhoni are happy to rotate the strike. The odd boundary comes in. Hope rises again. 20 overs to go, India need 124. Dhoni was yet to hit a boundary but hits one now, a hard back-foot punch through covers.

In the next over, Dhoni again finds the fence with a hard flash. What is he doing? Why the sudden attack? Sometimes you cannot fathom what Dhoni is thinking. Gambhir is nearing his ton. There is urgency in running. This is getting very close now. Sanga calls back Malinga, so no easy runs anymore. MSD is struggling. He is down in pain. The physio is out attending him. Will Dhoni go away and Yuvraj come out? Dhoni has played well for his 43…

Dhoni cuts Murali and brings up his fifty. No celebrations. Dhoni rarely celebrates. The hope is high now. Dhoni has had a lean patch before this, but he seems good today. India need 52 from 54.

8.33 PM: Thisara comes back to bowl. Gambhir is on 97. He comes down the wicket, tries to heave one, misses, and hears the death rattle. What the… why did he do that? There was a hundred for the taking. Gambhir is livid with himself as he walks out. Please, oh please, no twist in the tale, surely we can’t lose with Yuvraj in? Yuvraj gets off the mark with a pull over mid-wicket.

8.49 PM: Dhoni feels he needs to step up. He flays over third man for a maximum. The gap is closing. The feel is just about there. There is an appeal for LBW, but Yuvraj had edged it. Why would you review that? That is Sanga for you, trying to be cheeky, leaving no stone unturned. Malinga is being played out.

9.02 PM: You can sense Dhoni has the control of the game. Kula comes back. Dhoni takes him on. He blasts one through mid-off (why that hard?). Meanwhile, ICC has tweeted that Yuvraj is the Player of the Tournament. Cheers go around, but all that hardly matter now. Win the game.

9.51 PM: 16 needed from 18 balls. Dhoni hits Malinga for two fours in the over. The crowd is going mad. Even the security guards are dancing. 7 runs needed, two boundaries needed. You can bet Dhoni wants to finish in style. Two singles taken. Yuvraj back on strike. Who will do it? Yuvraj squeezes one through point for a single.

9.59 PM: Dhoni is on strike. You can sense it is coming. Full, outside off, Dhoni eyes lit up, a wallop, eyes firmly on the ball, it sails, sails, as if time has stopped. It lands in the stands.

BOOM! The nation erupts! Dhoni does a twirl with his bat, Yuvraj has his arm afloat. I can’t hear myself screaming. The noise, the energy is beyond me. I can only cry in joy. Yuvraj is sitting on the pitch and screaming in joy. A boy is running on the field, he is so happy. Wait, that is no boy, that is Sachin Tendulkar, the legend who is behaving like a child has just been gifted a candy.

10.10 PM: The team come together. Dhoni is lifted by someone. He doesn’t like the attention, he wants to stay grounded. He gets a hug from Sachin. You can feel there is a ‘Thank You’ in middle.

10.25 PM: Kohli and Raina are carrying Sachin on their shoulders, doing the victory lap. Kohli is asked about Sachin he replies, “Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 22 years. It is time we carried him on our shoulders.” And boy, isn’t he doing just that now? Carrying the nation’s expectations.

What a night it was, full of drama, thrill and action. A night no Indian fan will forget. A win, a World Cup win after a wait of 28 long years. However old I get, that feel is never going to go. That six, that twirl, are etched in memories forever.

(Nikhil Popat is a cricket lover and a PotterHead, who loves to be himself. He can be followed on Twitter @CricCrazyNIKS)