The cricket world cup is back in town

Thu, 05 Oct 2023

The last time the Cricket World Cup came to India was in 2011 - the first year of my engineering degree. Those memories are still vivid, and they all came rushing back a few weeks ago during a meeting attended by several IIT alumni. While they were reminiscing about their college days, my mind kept drifting back to how the CWC was one of the highlights of my college life. Here’s an image of us watching a group stage match:


Ah, simpler times.

For Indian cricket fans, one World Cup that left us scarred was the one in 2003. A dream run to the Final with a dream team - Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly, Yuvraj, Kaif, Javagal Srinath, and others. It was the stuff of dreams, indeed. However, the defeat to the Australians in the Final overshadowed the euphoria of beating our western neighbours. It wasn’t even close. The Australians took Indian bowlers to the cleaners and scored 359 runs. At that time, anything above 280 was an amazing score. This was way before modern cricket came into being, where scores above 300 are the norm, as we’ve seen in recent years.

And the 2007 World Cup needs no explanation—a disappointing group-stage exit. In fact, I don’t remember much about 2007.

That’s why the 2011 World Cup was even more special. The disappointment of the past decade had culminated in what felt like the perfect alignment of stars for India to end the 28-year wait for a world cup. Matches being played at home, a special team once again - Dhoni’s men, they called it, and certainly the last World Cup for Sachin Tendulkar. Could India send off one of the game’s most loyal servants with the one thing his heart desired most? It was not out of the question.

While the team sailed through the group stages and the eliminators, the Final game was something else. Time seemed to stand still in the country for about 10 hours. The early dismissals of Sachin and Sehwag within the first 7 overs meant an uphill task chasing down Sri Lanka’s 274 runs. But then came a few Indians who made history. Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, and Dhoni - all of them got us across the line. It is inexplicable how much the country celebrated that night. It was a long wait that had finally ended. India was indeed sending off one of her favourite sons. It was just meant to be.

And who can forget the iconic lines:

“Dhoni, finishes it off in style, India lifts the World Cup after 28 years.” - Ravi Shashtri.


While the memories of 2011 are still etched as if it were yesterday, time has flown by. A couple of World Cups have gone by without any cause for celebration. But the country gearing up for something big this time. Well, the World Cup has come home again.

The Dhoni era was special. It also showed younger Indians that we can take on the world and be feared. And sure, we are probably one of the feared opponents today. A lot of that credit goes to Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Two huge stalwarts of the game - at the peak of their careers. While the next World Cup is a few years away, and you never know, both players might still be around. But the chances are slim; this is likely the last World Cup they will play. With young Indian players knocking on the doors, it seems more than probable that come 2027, we will have a drastically different team from what we see now.

Remember the time Kohli burst onto the scene? The centuries in Australia and England. The sledging. The aggressive fielding. Quite a change from what the Indian cricket team was known for - being slightly subdued. These past few years have been special. We’ve witnessed so many memorable moments, including the recent T20 game against none other than our Western neighbours. But the new guard of Indian cricket is almost here, and it feels bittersweet to see some of these amazing players leave.

The country is yet again gearing up to bid farewell to two of the most prolific captains the game has ever seen. It’s quite personal for everyone.

As the World Cup starts today, 1.4 billion people wait with bated breath to reach the finals again. The tension is palpable, yet a sense of expectation is again taking over. If there’s one certain thing, it’s that, the stadiums where India will play will probably be the loudest we have ever heard.

Cricket is more than just a game for Indians. Over the next month and a half, the country will eat, sleep, drink, walk, and talk cricket. It just feels like, yet again, the stars have aligned for the team.

Fingers crossed. :)