The ball stayed in the air for only about 2 seconds! But that was enough to send a billion minds into an imaginative world where they could see men-in-green celebrating with pumped fists and villainous smiles! For those two brief seconds, the hearts of the same billion, watching ESPN, didn’t just skip a beat, it almost stopped functioning. Then good old Ravi Shastri shouted “Sreesaaaaanth… takes it. India win!!!” No one cared what Shastri said next as the nation erupted even as Misbah sank to his knees ruing the only blunder he committed in the match! I need not describe what happened next for by now the scenes of wild celebrations would be etched forever in mind of a nation that was formerly dwelling on the glory that was 24 years old!
Those who never understood and never even cared to bother about the simple basic rules of cricket became ‘experts’ overnight. Almost everyone did a pre and post match analysis! Few would argue that in India, these ‘experts’ were available aplenty. But so far-reaching was the impact of ICC World T20, that some of the fairer gender that had hated the game from the bottom of their hearts (still don’t know what that phrase means) left from work early just to see the finals, in which their heroes eventually did not disappoint! Those who never knew how Yuvraj Singh looked like, now knew who Misbah-ul-Haq and Stuart Broad were!

It will take some doing for me to forget a few defining moments for India in the T20 World Cup! This is purely my opinion!

1. Misbah’s mistake, Sreesanth’s catch: The simple, yet pressure-filled catch by Sreesanth after a scoop/paddle-that-went-wrong by Misbah-ul-Haq will now be played over and over again by the television channels, every time India prepares for a World Cup campaign. Not easy to forget this as the dugout ran out to join the Indian team celebrating for the first time as T20 World Champions.

2. Yuvraj’s Onslaught: Flintoff’s mistake. Broad pays the price. Provoked by Flintoff and with revenge on his mind, there was no stopping Yuvi as he murdered Stuart Board for six consecutive maximums in an over! Not to forget, Yuvi was hammered for five sixes in his over by Masscarenhas only about a week and half back. First over deep midwicket and out of the stadium, second a flick over square leg, third over long off, fourth an upper cut (his favourite of the lot) over deep point, fifth and sixth over deep midwicket!

3. The Bowl Out: The first ever time that I saw a bowl out and what a game to witness it! India-Pakistan. Misbah runs himself out in the last ball and we have a tie. So, what next? A bowl-out to decide the winner. Five bowlers each from the opposition will bowl one delivery each on the stumps at the batsman’s end minus a batsman! Indian’s practice and Pakistan’s ignorance about the rule was on display as Sehwag, Harbhajan and Uthappa hit the stumps and four of Pakistan’s prominent bowlers missed! India continued their 100% win record against their arch-rivals in World Cups!

4. Sreesanth’s War-dance: India’s victory against the Aussies in the semis may not have been possible had Hayden and Symonds continued to stay till the end! Sreesanth, wild as always, sent Hayden’s timber cart-wheeling! But the sight to behold was Sreesanth’s war-dance-like celebration running right close to Hayden and slapping the pitch with both his hands before giving Hayden a farewell in the way that only he can do!

5. Out-fielding South Africa: I never thought I’ll see a day when the Indians will outfield the South Africans! The South Africans dropped a couple of sitters! And the Indians meanwhile fielded as if their lives depended on it! Karthik took a blinder, Rohit Sharma hit the stumps when it mattered and clearly, brilliant fielding and clever bowling meant that the Indians not only defeated the hosts, but also knocked them out of the tournament! What’s new with South Africa anyways?

So excited was I after the Indian victory, that I went out and bought all the English papers next morning! So, here are the headlines from a few prominent dailies:

The Times of India
Intro line/Subhead: Pakistunned. India Win See-Saw Battle In Last Over

Hindustan Times
H/L: Top of the World (with one whole page pic of the team huddle)

The Indian Express
H/L: Young blood in a billion hearts

The Asian Age

I/L: Through guts and grit, Dhoni’s Demons bring home the first T20 World Cup

The Free Press Journal
I/L: Men in Blue demonstrate great self-belief, confidence, passion and a never-say-die attitude

Mid Day
H/L: Abhi khushi Tabhi glum (with two contrasting images of the current victorious Indian team and the team that sat sulking in West Indies after being knocked out of the World Cup)

Mumbai Mirror
No front page matter about the WC, but the headline with a whole page pic on page 23 read ‘WINDIA’.

And what is my opinion on the young guns, who have stood up and are begging the selectors to take notice? A few should be picked immediately! But those calling for the Big Three’s heads should think more than twice! This was Twenty20! In ODIs and Test Matches, not all these youngsters will fit the bill without proper guidance from The Three! They are experienced enough to know when their time has finally arrived for them to either join their family or join the commentary team!

As of now, it’s time to just sit back and cherish the feeling! A feeling that does not often visit the Indian sporting arena! A feeling that we would never want to part with! A feeling that left me speechless and yet let me shout “Yes! Yes!” A feeling that made me proud to be an Indian!

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23 and how!

“So, how did your day go?” – a cliched question immediately after a birthday! I got these a-plenty! But for once, I was ready to reply to this cliché! Naah, not one of those sarci replies I usually end up giving, but an honest one!

To start with, it turned out to be a three-day long birth’day’! The actual day happened to be a Tuesday. But I was planning to go out with family, and maybe even, treat them in advance, on the Sunday before my bday! Abychayan (my bro) and Nisychechi (his wife) will be in Pune on Tuesday and hence, an early celebration will do no harm (Yea right! Who wouldn’t mind long celebrations?) But the plans remained just that—plans! Pappa wasn’t keeping too well and hence, we had to cancel the much awaited treat at KFC! And with me not going for my usual Sunday ICPF meet, the day… evening rather, was turning out to be rather dull! Bro and chechi went out for some shopping! And my net connection was still down. So dull was the feeling that I went for a little nap at 615 in the evening! Woke up at 7 having nothing much to do, but watch the T20 match! No, India wasn’t playing! They had already lost to the Kiwis by 10 runs! So, there you have it! What a waste of a Sunday evening! Or so I thought it was!

Lisammama (my aunt) and Siji (her daughter and my cousin) came over! I love to irritate Siji for any and every little thing she does and does not do! Then, a call from a good friend! The evening suddenly seemed to have taken wings! While on the call, Julia (my cute little 3 year old niece) walks in with her parents and Jestin (my nephew) with his mom! I am still on the phone, with my house all of a sudden abuzz with noises from the kids! Abychayan and chechi comes back from their bit of shopping! I am still completely unaware of the hidden agenda behind everyone turning up all of a sudden. Didn’t seem new to me! This ‘gathering’ has happened way too many times earlier! It was only when Lisammama spilled the beans that it struck me why chechi had carried the Monginis bag as she had walked in! It struck me then the reason for the sudden invasion of all my cousins! To cut a long story short, chechi, the conspirator-in-chief and Abychayan, the co-conspirator, had set it all up when they went out for shopping, calling my cousins to come over!

Turned out to be one lovely family get-together! Of course, the Dutch chocolate cake was as yummy as it looked, if not more! The ‘2’ melted and ‘3’ had broken down by the time I cut the cake (talking about the candles)! But it was the cake that mattered! Then, there was chicken lollypop too! According to chechi, my bday “will be incomplete without chicken”! Bang on! A little jig, by the ‘baccha party’ (Julia, Siji, Jibi and Jestin) and yours truly, later, the surprise party was over! A first ever for me and how I loved it! So, thank you Abychayan and chechi! Love you guys!

Monday—the smell of actual birthDAY being just round the corner, is something irresistible! At times, I wish this day would never end! At certain other times, I want it to pass asap! Wishes started flowing in from late night on Monday from some sweet friends, who admitted staying awake at 12 would be a tough ask and hence, wished me about half an hour in advance!

Tuesday—calls right on from midnight (or a little earlier)! The bday song welcomed 18th of September on the first call from a friend, who thought she missed out my bday on the 16th (had informed her about the happenings on Sunday). Then the calls flooded in! And messages too, from those frustrated they couldn’t get through as their call was on “waiting”! I picked up the calls with a “thank you very much” even before the wish came through! I was really touched at the frequency of the calls I received on the midnight of the 18th of September! Especially at the efforts made by some friends to continue trying and call back despite having to “wait” for their turn! Another sweet friend, who I know sleeps by 11, woke up at 12, barely managing to open her eyes! Tried my number! Couldn’t get through! Woke up again 10 minutes later to give me a call, which I eventually did receive!

Never have I received so many calls at midnight for my birthday! The usual culprits (read BJ, Merw) were finding it tough to get through! But they waited and did call! I was on seventh heaven even before the sun had risen! The calls continued till 130! I wouldn’t dare to complain for sleeping late! It was only then that I realized that I needed to make a call that was the most important of all! A call to my loving Father up above! To my Saviour Jesus Christ! If it wasn’t for His grace, if it wasn’t for His loving kindness, if it wasn’t for His goodness, I wouldn’t have been seeing this night (one of my earliest posts is one of the reasons)! I thanked my Abba Father and bid the midnight goodbye to be woken up by more calls in the morning!

I still had to make a choice of whether or not to go to office! Eventually decided, it’s better to go rather than to lie on a birthday about the ‘reason’ for me bunking! So off I went towards office with more calls accompanying me all along the way! Decided to make the most out of my ‘visit’ to the office. Made sure everyone from our department wished me! Had to ‘bribe’ them all with a 5Star of course! But doesn’t matter! 23rd Bday was a “birthday of many wishes and a few surprises”! If I thought what happened on the 16th was my last surprise for some years to come! I was in for another little surprise! My friends from office bought a cake and made me cut it while during the break! Another sweet little surprise that I’d remember for some time to come and would take some doing for me to forget!

And as the birthday drew to a close, calls kept coming! And of course, there were plenty of scraps too!

Edited on 20th Sep: And just when I thought the storm had calmed down, my two lovely friends from Bangalore, whom I had never met, Feni and Deepa, decided to give me another surprise (Jeez!! I’m using this word for the nth time now)! Saw a beautiful card lying on the tea-table! Checked the name! Yup! All the way from Bangalore through courier!

Updated on 26th: Actually, this update was long overdue. On the 22nd to be precise! Got a gift from a friend (who passed it through another friend) whom I’ve never really interacted in person! As I check the wonderfully designed pack, it read, “check out the 23 reasons that makes you special”. I open the packet with some curiosity (as is the case with everyone who opens a bday gift)! First thing I see is a stuffed toy! A monkey/teddy with a specs (Chechi told me later that it was self-made). Next, I get a handful of chocolates in a mug with a cartoon of a little baby with the number ‘1’ next to it! And I was still wondering what the 23 reasons were when I look into the packet and finds quite a handful of cards! Self-made cartoons! This was made by the friend herself with cartoons of little Blessen (she considers me a kid although I am a good 2 years elder to her) on the front and the ‘reason’ inside! The cartoons resembled the reasons! And guess what? There were 23 of such cards all made by that sweet friend herself! She later told me that it took her about 2 weeks to make all that! As was expected, I was on cloud nine or maybe even above that! Could never have imagined someone investing this much time for my birthday! So, thank you so very much Pooja aka Kichoo! Will treasure that for a long long time!

Indeed one of my best birthdays ever! Made very special by the people I mentioned above! So, thank you guys! I love you all! May my Lord Jesus bless you all in abundance!

PS: This might just seem a little dull/boring to those reading! But I couldn’t help but mention everyone who made my birthday special!

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