India are the 2011 World Cup Champions. Amid scenes of sweeping emotion, dancing, and unfettered joy, befitting a game that took place in Mumbai, home of India’s mammoth movie industry, the Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, smote a mighty six into the stands as his team managed to overhaul Sri Lanka’s very competitive 274-6, and so completed a victory by six wickets. The two supernovas of the Indian team, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, had failed with the bat, but India’s great strength is the depth of its batting. Gautam Gambhir composed a cool 97, before Dhoni added 91 unbeaten runs, ably supported by Yuvraj Singh.
As for Sri Lanka, their batting line up did well, with the great Mahela Jayawardene conjuring an unbeaten innings of 103 that should have won the game for the team. However, the bowling didn’t quite match Lasith Malinga‘s early twin strikes that had left India reeling at 31-2. In the end, the extraordinarily cool-headed Dhoni made the victory seem almost a foregone conclusion. One heart has to go out to Muttiah Muralitharan, whose team had wanted this victory so badly for him. He is now set to retire from international one-day cricket.
To a man, the Indian team told the media they did it for Sachin. Immediately after the fireworks had gone off and the huge crowd rose to their feet in celebration, Tendulkar’s teammates lifted him onto their shoulders and carried him around the ground. Virat Kholi, one of the next generation of Indian stars, put it well: “Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years; It was time we carried him.” Tendulkar, waving the Indian flag aloft, and characteristically modest, emphasized how hard the team had worked. And that teamwork, indeed, seems to have carried the day. Full of superstars and outsized characters though this side is, they absorbed the pressure placed on their shoulders by one billion passionate citizens, and worked well together. It is hard to resist seeing it as a metaphor for this resurgent country: so full of confidence and self-belief; on the cusp of greatness if it can work as a team. Quite simply, India is the best in the world.