Many would have said, “We don’t care about the finals. Just win this game” for the WC 2011 Semi Finals between archrivals – India and Pakistan, hosted at Mohali, PCA Stadium on Mar 30, 2011.
While news channels quizzed if the ever increasing frenzy was due to decades old Indo-Pak jingoism, while various diplomats and ministers with their hefty group of delegates met after a brief cold war, terming the match an excuse for diplomatic cross border relations, for the common man in both the nations, this game was larger the life, most critical than most of their daily duties. The streaks of patriotism were so heavily rampant that no "Aman ki Asha" initiative would work.
For an average Indian, there were many questions –
1) Will India maintain its unbeaten record of being triumphant over Pakistan in all WC encounters?
2) Will Sachin hit his 100th century today?
3) Will Dhoni include Ashwin in attack?
Many more questions occurred as the game progressed –
1) Why did Dhoni include Nehra when he was so costly in previous WC 2011 matches?
2) What did he find so interesting in the pitch that he included three seamers in the bowling attack?
3) Why did he keep Ashwin away when he had done well and when everyone endorsed his selection?
4) How much butter did Pakistanis consume for breakfast to let go Sachin so easily and so many times?
5) What magic wand did Sachin wield to keep alive at the crease for so long?
6) Will Indian pace attack weave the same magic that Wahab Riaz managed to through his 5-wicket toll?
7) How Pakistan manages to bring in the best pace attack possible, every time despite its ace bowlers – Asif and Mohmd.Amer denied their berths in the team?
8) Why Raina was not brought up in the order for his unruffled batting prowess displayed on many occasions and was brought in at position 8 for fire fighting?
9) Why, despite many fielding lessons, did Yuvraj hit the stumps with his hand and not with the ball, thus giving a lease of life to Umar Akmal?
10) Why Pakistan team did not use their batting power play much earlier when Afridi and Misbah were at crease?
India’s victory was truly special, a memorable one it will remain for every soul in the country. It was a show of power and responsibility by Team Blue – be it Sehwag’s cold blooded massacre of Umar Gul’s overs, Sachin’s consistent efforts to remain at crease and work wonders, Raina’s unquestionable composure at very testing moments, unprecedented discipline in bowling from Nehra, Yuvraj’s contribution with the ball, Bhajji’s witty tricks on his home turf, only a single digit extras in an innings that carries unfathomable pressure, the yorkers, leg cutters and off cutters from the pacemen of the team. Every moment was full of tension, fervent prayers and anxiety. There were many anomalies observed from the captains of both sides. At the day’s end, the net cost of the comedy of errors; how and for whom luck outplayed anomalies mattered. Mar 30, 2011 is a special day for India, another day where luck worked to support stupendous efforts and did not give a hoot to petty manual follies.