The big news is here and the whole world has a story to tell about how they cruised through these moments. I too have my story but this story is not about me. The Indian Cricket Team has finally brought the cup back home after 28 years. Its the cup that matters. Its a cup that my generation has been wanting from 1996. Seeing Vinod Kamli in tears in the World Cup 1996 semi final and India declaring at 120/8 still hits on my mind and that perhaps is the first moment that I remember when I felt that, 'Yes, We need this Cup. This is the cup that matters'. I, in fact I can rather say my generation, had just started just started hooking on to cricket. Navjot Singh Siddhu's 90 runs in the match before against Pakistan is still so live on my mind. Javagal Srinath & Anil Kumble going on to the field requesting the crowd to stop agitating and let the match go on is so cleanly recorded in my brain and I feel it happened just a few days back. This was the starting point of my interest in this game called Cricket and like every Indian child from my generation, I too felt that I will, one day, be a 'Man in Blue' some day
The 1999 World Cup is not much on my mind. That was perhaps I was in Sainik School and the TV facility had some issues during the world cup. We used to secretrely go to homes/quarters of staff, waiters, cooks, workers or anywhere where there was a TV and watch the matches
The 2003 World Cup is another beautiful memory. I was in Class XI and India were the favorites. It was almost decided that Ganguly will lift the Cup. The Indian Team was performing exceedingly well and even I had my big hopes. Team India was covering each obstacle one by one in style and marching towards the victory. We had a lot of interest in cricket. Of course, every Indian does. But then, like every Indian, we felt that, perhaps, we are the greatest fans of Team India and Cricket. Any comment on our favorite player or Team India is taken as a personal insult and there is nothing surprising even if we landed up wrestling each other
The World Cup fever was ON and India was in the quarter finals. We all were discussing about what might happen in the future. We were thinking on all possibilities, so much so many that even the Indian team would not have thought about. Every permutation and combination was written on paper and discussed about as if we are playing the match on the ground. Sometimes, we used to plan the fielding set up for Team India. It was all a crazy time. India won the quarter finals and we, like every Indian, took the credit for it. Our discussions never seemed to end. I do not quite much remember what all we used to discuss as it was something that happened 8 years back but this one particular discussion has been on my mind at all the time. Each time I think of Cricket, Team India or World Cup, this particular discussion has come on my mind almost all the times. I never tried to pen it down or discuss about it as I kept ruling it out as a casual talk. But this casual talk occupied some portion of my brain, perhaps, because there was something against our wishes and we just did not want to listen though it kept coming to our minds. I have tried to give the exact wordings of what happened further between us at Sainik School Bijapur way back in 2003
As mentioned, we felt that we are the greatest cricket fans at SSBJ and India will lift World Cup 2003. India had won the quarter finals and found its way to the semi finals. A day before the semi finals, after our dinner, about 5-6 of us were in the antee room (kind of dressing room) getting fresh and ready for the night preps (study at night). We were discussing about tomorrow's match and I was full Gung Ho for tomorrow's victory. In fact, I had also decided that I shall be getting parathas from Malabar to celebrate the victory. While everyone was with me, there was one voice that was a little different
We were very angry when Ragahvendra said, "I don't know about tomorrow's match but India will not win the world cup. So, do not fly too much Bunty'
I said, 'Oh, as if you will tell and it will happen. Bl**dy hell, I bet, Ganguly will lift the cup'.
Mahantesh, Ganguly's fan, said, 'Le punya, with Raghya you never know, whatever he tells will come true'
I said, 'F**k you and your prediction. It doesn't take you and your great head to win the World Cup. Just because he has scored 90 marks in exam doesn't mean he can say anything and it will happen. If that was the case, why would you have to do anything in life'
Vittal or somebody said something regarding left handed captains lifting the world cup in some order or combination and proved mathematically that only Ganguly would lift the cup. Raghu was listening to all this quietly and I was on the top of my toes for rupturing him for having spoken something against our hope. Sometimes, human beings react so funnily
I continued peeling out his nerves, 'So, according to you, who will win the cup?'
Raghu said, 'I don't know'
Somebody interrupted, 'Stop it Punya, how much will you trouble him? If India loses, he will run all over you and make a shit of you'
'No, I will not stop. Who asked his expert advice? I never asked. Now that he has given, I want to make use of his expertise. So Mr Raghavendra the Genuis, can you also enlighten us with who will win the next world cup also?', I said in a rude, sarcatic and hurting way
'I don't think India will win it in 2007 but India will win the World Cup 2011', he said and just walked out of the room
We were dumbstruck for a moment
'Ah, great, when they can't win now, what they will win after 8 years when Sachin will not be there to play' said Vittal, a great fan of Sachin
'You've gone mad. F**k off. As if you are some great mahatma. I bet India will win the World and that too in a week's time. Keep watching', I said. I did not stop here. I went around the barrack and a whole lot of places and said Raghya is such a big fool thinking of himself as a genius. We made is a real big issue. I even remember Mallu someone asking him to go and eat shit. But then, never did we all, and especially me, realize that we were in the process of making a fool of ourselves. How would we? The spirit to lift the cup was so much in me and all of us that we just could not take anything coming in our way. Just nothing
Everyone in the room supported me and we were ready to lift the cup untill Australia scored more than 350 runs in the final and Ponting's touch to every ball took it beyond the boundaries. It was a very disappointing moment for everyone and more for me (like everyone felt). The 2003 dream was shattered. Raghya never came to me or to anyone of us reminding us about what he had told on that day. Neither did I go to blame him as I had already made a mess of a small statement which practically had no impact. There are a thousand people with hundred opinions each. Who or what all will Ganguly or Team India hear? Of course, Raghya, like everyone, was more hurt by India losing the final and would not want to take any credit for his guessing or prediction skills. But it was on the back of our minds. Somewhere a few days down the line, we had a chat about this in his absence and I said, 'This is merely a coincidence. There is nothing more'
Everyone agreed and gave their points
Someone said, 'If at all there is something in what happened on that day, India has to miss WC 2007 and win WC 2011. Only then will it prove that there was something'
'Don't expect three things (Loss in 2003, Loss in 2007, Win in 2011) to happen as per his words and then call it a coincidence', someone said, 'Nobody has even thought of 2007 but he has already commented on 2011'
'If that happens, it will be a mysterical history but I am sure it will not. Either we should win the next one or we should lost the next to next one and then Raghya will be proved wrong', I said
With this, we concluded our discussions on the World Cup and got back to studies. Our seniors were already firing us for not studying properly due to the matches. There were some expectations of the school, our teachers and our parents too which we had to take care of
In 2004, we completed our Class XIIth and moved out of SSBJ in attempts to reach our goals in life. While some started with success joining the Armed Forces, some started scripting it joining Medical & Engineering courses and some were Confused (which included me)
The World Cup 2007 came and India had an early exit. Raghya's words were still on my mind after 4 years. And with this, his second statement had come true. But then, the third one was the most difficult one. World Cup needs consecutive victories as there is a knock out at each stage. Its not a big deal to predict a team as losing as the chances are more than 90% (11 out of 12 teams will not win the cup) that a team will lost. So, there was no big credit for anyone to predict that India will not win WC 2007
The World Cup 2011 created a history. India performed, performed and performed to add this glory to their crown. And today, the last statement of what Raghya said on that day has come true. Call it coincidence, call it luck, call it guess, call it a great prediction, call it whatever, I can only call it a fact that has made a difference to lives. My late grandfather had once told me, 'Never ever speak ill of anyone or anything in your life. Never even think ill of anything at any point of time. Because, everyday, God gives every human being a timeframe when whatever he is wishing will come true. Its better you slap your enemies but don't wish anything ill for them'. Perhaps, Raghya had that moment, that 5-10 seconds of timeframe and he wished that India should win WC 2011. Be the reason whatever, I cherish this amazing feeling of being alive and being a witness to India lifting the World Cup. It has been a great moment. But the happier person must be Raghya. I am not sure even if he or anyone remembers this. On a lighter note, I am very sure that if India had lost this match, I would have made all these memories come back to everyone's life and peeled off Raghya's skin and put him into deep trouble for his guess not coming true and and put him to shame/blame or whatever
I don't really know what to say on this. On a lighter note, I should have made use of this gyan and placed some big bets and made a fortune out of it. It still keeps me in a big confusion when I look back and see what has happened. Having said this, all I would want to say to conclude it is that it was a fantastic effort by everyone in India - The Team, The Staff, The People, The Fans and of course The Predictors like Bejan Daruwalla and our own Raghya the Predictor (predicting what will happen in this cup itself is difficult & he has foreseen 3 world cups and predicted the future's history in making) - and I had a superb time through this world cup. I salute everyone for bringing these moments into our lives
We will cherish them for a lifetime