April 2, 2011: The World Cup Win That Made it Real For India

April 2, 2011: The World Cup Win That Made it Real For India

We had covered a World Cup final that India won, had hopefully done justice to our brief and had then been swept away in the euphoria.

Updated: April 2, 2022 12:54 PM IST | Edited By: Staff

April 2, 2011, did not begin like any other day. All of India seemed to be focused on Mumbai in general and the Wankhede Stadium in particular as India, for the first time since 1983, was in the final of the ICC World Cup. This was the moment for India to once again establish supremacy in the 50-over format and the entire nation would have nothing less than victory and glory. This was also the day when Mahendra Singh Dhoni wrote his name in the annals of Indian cricket as one of the best skippers in the business, something that many greats before and since have not been able to achieve.

This correspondent, like many others, had flown into Mumbai in a packed flight from Chandigarh on March 31, after India's euphoric semi-final win over Pakistan. The flight wasn't the smoothest, especially as we neared Mumbai, but it landed in one piece, much to the relief of all and the passengers, including NRIs who had booked tickets for the final a long time ago, Sri Lankan officials and some fans, and a lot of journalists.

We made our way to Hotel Sea Green South (one of the favourite places of stay for most journalists, because it fit the budget and also was placed practically under the ramparts of the Wankhede Stadium) and almost immediately, headed off for the stadium.

April 1 was spent in the usual, filing previews, trying to find (without success) interviews and generally soaking in the atmosphere. This was the first World Cup final for many of us since 2003, when India's dreams were destroyed by Australia in Johannesburg.

We woke all keyed up on April 2, and then, by early afternoon, made our way to the stadium media gallery, a trip made circuitous by the many security barricades around. Eventually, we got in through the south side of the iconic stadium.

There were decorations galore, and even a cake, marking the World Cup final. Everyone in and around the media centre spoke of when (not if), India would win and how this would make history.

The win in 1983 is an immortal event but it still wasn't at home, not a tangible thing that many witnessed first-hand. While most in 2011 would also watch on television, for those who made it into the stadium, this was as real as it could get.

The match and result are no secret, Dhoni's six making India explode in exultation as people everywhere spilled out onto the streets and the partying went on till early morning.

We finished our work at frantic pace, attended a press conference where Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were in the highest of spirits. After that, we ventured onto the hallowed field, took pictures near the pitch and then tried to make our way back to the hotel, barely 500 metres from the North exit.

On the way, we came across a forlorn Lasith Malinga sitting on the steps outside the dressing room. Some murmurs of commiseration, barely acknowledged, were followed by our first sighting of Marine Drive since we had entered the stadium in the afternoon.

It was near midnight but you couldn't see the road. All we saw were heads, as thousands milled around, waiting for the team bus to leave.

We walked along, joining the festivities as pangs of hunger drove us towards Colaba. Seats in restaurants were rare, but we managed. Singing and dancing was part of the whole dinner process, and by the time we got to the hotel room, exhausted, it was close to 4 a.m.

Our cricket education was complete on that day. We had covered a World Cup final that India won, had hopefully done justice to our brief and had then been swept away in the euphoria. This is what makes cricket what it is for India.