04 April 2011

How the job got Dhon - thoughts on Indian's big World Cup win

The winning of cricket world cup has expectedly thrown our nation of billion plus people into a surreal wave of emotional frenzy. High on potential, but frequently low on execution, discipline and mental toughness, Indians have been far too used to crumbling on the world stage in competitive team sports. Which is why, most of us thought the game was up and went into a familiar loop of depression when Virender Sehwag and Sachin got out in quick succession in the finals. We’ve seen enough of Indian cricket – and sports always mirrors a society’s character – that persistence and self-belief are not traits that come easily to us. For long, our reputation as a country of ‘gestures’ than ‘doers’ has made us far too skeptical about our chances on the big occasions. Which is why Saturday’s victory proved to be such an epochal moment for every cricket-loving Indian. In that one event, there was a strange relief and redemption. It exorcised our past ghosts. While Gautam Gambhir held his nerves and solidly anchored the innings, it was M S Dhoni who played like a man possessed. The captain’s fiery eyes gave way to a heart-melting smile as he lofted his bat for a mighty, match-winning six, and in that one stroke, gave the nation and its people the courage to dream and importantly achieve it. It’s no exaggeration to say that younger generations who have witnessed the event will be hugely influenced and inspired by this momentous victory and this no doubt will play a role in the country’s cricketing future. In fact, events such as these tend to have a subliminal impact on every aspect of our life, so here’s hoping it makes way for more dynamic leaders and go-getters.

We preened, we celebrated, we partied hard. All fair. But there was another serious aspect that casted some serious doubts on our maturity as a nation. Did India, like Shahid Afridi says, not show enough grace and large-heartedness towards the Pakistani team? The media could go hoarse calling him a sore loser. Fact is, most of the channels behaved in the most belligerent, propogandist manner ahead of the Indo-Pak contest. Images of bloodshed and battle on the field were unnecessarily evoked through headlines. Afridi’s statements about Sachin were twisted and presented. The average man on the street too could be heard stating he didn’t mind India losing the finals if only the team could win against Pakistan.

This whole idea of political revenge through sports is wholly tasteless and crude. The channels went on and on, and it was embarassing to imagine that the Pak team had already arrived in Mohali and could well be stunned to see so much hatred around them. Why then criticise Afridi for speaking his mind? The Pak captain showed great dignity post the Mohali match, generously complimenting the Indian team. His words were like chilled water on those who were letting off noxious steam over the clash. Our victory is no doubt special and denotes we are a nation that could well have acquired some much needed spunk and chutzpah. But we’re also a nation which needs to grow up sometimes.
Sandhya Iyer

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