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Rituparna Chatterjee
Sunday , April 03, 2011 at 13 : 45

In the newsroom: The night India won the Cup


As the last ball of the match soared over thousands of tiny heads blurred into one cohesive mass of colour, the silence in the news room was deafening for all of a fraction of a second before it erupted into a roar of approval.

The first memory of the final moments of the India-Sri Lanka match at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium I have is of scores of fists pumping the air and a mass of blue T-shirts steamrolling into one great huddle where chairs were once neatly lined up.

The words would come much, much later.

The people we entrust to shaping public opinion every day - the writers, the reporters, the copy editors, the designers - the serious men and women of the business of news, were busy climbing on to their desks, face paint melting, waving the Indian flag and generally acting like the child every Indian must be feeling inside at 10:30 pm on April 2, 2011.

"Has the news flash gone, has the news flash gone?" A sensible voice was drowned in the melee as the euphoria refused to die down moments after the win. It's not everyday that you see a legend laughing and crying unabashedly over the shoulders of his team mates.

If the plastic horns were to fall silent for a moment, the match commentary to stop, the raging firecrackers restrained, you could hear a billion hearts bursting with pride as Sachin Tendulkar was lifted on to the shoulders of team mates many years his junior.

The closet fans, the pretenders of not taking interest in cricket, the eavesdroppers on cricket conversation, the original cricket lover - it didn't matter in the end.

No other sports perhaps brings out the best in Indians in a way that transcends economic parity, religion, class or caste in an expansive country divided by many distinctions.

As a journalist, it was a tough moment to be caught in. You want to turn off your laptop and rush to the street where complete strangers were hugging each other, pillion riders were waving huge flags and throwing coloured powder at passersby.

No amount of planning ahead can prepare you for a moment when MS Dhoni (what a stylish man he is!) lifts off an effortless six to finish a match that many had written off in its earlier hours. Yes, there was a time during the match when the Lankans were hitting hard. The pizza tasted like sawdust in my mouth and the tri-colour wristband was getting uncomfortably tight.

For the majority of the young people in the newsroom last night, the stories about Kapil's Devils of 1983, the only year India won the World Cup, were passed down by an older generation, and the emotional connect was missing.

But this was our World Cup.

And the legend was playing Saturday night. We have grown up watching him create miracle after miracle. So it's all under control.

Then Sachin's wicket fell and the newsroom went into collective mourning. We were at Wankhede, sitting next to horrified fans. The commentators must have known something we didn't, but at that moment I could pay to shut them up.

But this was a team that had weathered greater storms and finally learnt not to depend on any one player for deliverance. Hell, we didn't need a four or six, we cheered every run taken, easy does it. We haven't witnessed the '83 sweep. But this was history being made, personal memories for the rest of our lives.

Rajinikanth was in the stadium and Twitter was flooded with jokes. A chance visit on any of our Facebook feeds at that time would shame a child. Oh come on! So we lost Sehwag and Tendulkar, and Gambhir didn't get his century, we are allowed our nervous wisecracks.

As the final credits rolled, a drained bunch of us headed home, or to the pub to waste away the rest of the night. But this was one night no words could describe, united in our feeling of intense national pride. This one's for the album.


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More about Rituparna Chatterjee

In her 10 years in the media, Rituparna has worked both on the field as a reporter as well as off it, on the desk. Lover of cumin flavoured "authentic" Chinese food. God is watching but that's no compulsion to keep the desktop neat.