A Billion Hearts Beating For One! A Billion Hearts Beating As One!

by Nitin M

Nearly one fifth of the population of the world spent nearly half a day yesterday watching 22 men chase a trophy – the only one that counts for them, the Cricket World Cup.

Cricket has always been called a gentleman’s game – although in the recent past there has been plenty of ungentlemanly behaviour.

However, last night none of that mattered. Mahendra Singh Dhoni led a pack of young Indians to victory in a well fought battle against the mightly Sri Lankans to raise a trophy that has been much sought after for 28 years.

Individual members of the Indian cricket team dedicated the victory to Sachin Tendulkar – a nearly “immortal” mortal, whose name conjures images of fantastic feats of batting, for whom record books were created. Arguably the longest playing cricketer in the world of first class cricket, he is one of the most admired and respected people in India and an icon of true sportsmanship in the world. As a batsman he has set and broken records that are unlikely to be matched for a very long time. His career in Indian cricket has spanned over two generations of cricketers. Players have come and gone, but he has stood firm. Even in the lowest points of his career, the teams selectors would not dare keep him out of the team. He’s been a source of inspiration for cricketers and sportspeople alike. When he walks out onto the pitch, a nation stands to salute and watch him play. When he gets out, hearts stop beating, drums stop playing and a silence falls on the audience as it did last night. From kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers, politicians, industrialists, actors and authors to waiters, taxi drivers, office workers, students, teachers and senior citizens drop everything to watch him play.

He has been the source of books, articles and essays about topics as wide ranging as his cricketing talent and his gentlemanly conduct to his power as a brand amabassador. His ability to single handedly demolish bowling attacks has been raved about on all continents of the earth. His humility in the face of accolades is legendary. Perhaps one of the most amazing sights is his heavenly gaze on achieving every milestone – a reverential acknowledgement for his abilities. Time and again, he has put personal glory aside and relished the team’s success.

If winning the Cricket World Cup is the happiest day in Indian cricket, then the saddest one will be the day Sachin hangs up his gloves and parks his bat. At 37, he is the oldest member of the Indian cricket team. As a TV analyst mentioned yesterday, when Sachin Tendulkar first played for India, Virat Kohli was merely 1 year old – an entire generation has grown up watching this genius.

Today Indians stand proud around the world. Last night’s success was a true team effort. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has managed to do something that 28 years of captains, coaches and selectors have been trying – build a fighting fit squad that believes in itself as well as individual abilities. The last six weeks of the tournament has seen the resurgence of players like Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh as well as the trail ground for new talent Virat Kohli, Piyush Chawla and Ravichandran Ashwin!

I urge them all to follow in the footsteps of the great ones that have gone before – putting team and country first before everything else.

In moments lacking clarity, perhaps each can ask himself “What would Sachin do?”

India – let us celebrate this victory dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar and the people of India by remember those that are less fortunate than us. The poor and downtrodden who barely get by with a meal a day. Let’s learn to work with our neighbours on all sides of the subcontinent. Let’s lead the charge for a better world. Let’s root out the corruption that plagues not just our government offices, but our lives. Let’s remember the ideals of our freedom fighters. Let’s honor the memories of fallen soldiers and those that stand on the border protecting the freedom that we enjoy. Let’s have an India…

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

– Sir Rabindranath Tagore

Jai Bharat! Jai Hind!