India and it's team's celebration
India's Cricket Team 2011
Cricket World Cup Champion - Team India
When I think of sporting events and world class competition with the world's very best athletes I think of the Olympics and the World Cup. These 2 world stage competitions are full of athletic artistry, drama and tension. We all enjoy getting caught up in the moment and living through the drama and the excitement that the athletes bring to the world's stage.
There is something special in rooting for your country's best who represent their people with pride, courage and true dedication. It is not often you have the chance to witness greatness in a world class sporting event but when you do you realize how truly inspirational and special it is.
The world cup like the Olympics happens every 4 years and it takes a great deal of dedication, hard work, sacrifice and love of the game to get to that level and advance to the world stage. The world cup represents different sports and the first sport that comes to mind is soccer which is an exciting and intense sport that attracts many fans who live and die with their teams wins and losses. I have seen very exciting soccer matches that kept you on the edge of your seat cheering but the sport I am focusing on here today is Cricket which has been gaining popularity and a large following. Here in the United States it has not yet found mainstream popularity but it is a sport that has generated interest and a following although baseball is our national sport as well as our national past time.
In Europe, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, West Indies, Zimbabwe and New Zealand Cricket is a very popular sport and it has won the hearts of its people who follow their team with passion and pride. Many fans look forward to seeing their team advance to the World Cup and face off in a month of intense competition with the world's best teams.
Cricket is a game that has its origins date back as early as the 16th century in England and it has been a part of the county's landscape ever since certainly becoming the country's most popular sport. There are differing variations of the game and shorter versions of the traditional matches that typically play on for 5 days. Cricket is played on an oval field with a rectangular area called the pitch that is the central part of the game where the bowler, batsman, wicket-keeper and the fielders are positioned. Each team fields 11 players and the objective of the game is to score runs by hitting the ball as its bowled and the batsman and partner each run the length of the pitch without getting out.
The world cup of cricket is played every 4 years and 2011 fielded the best teams among the participating countries with competition starting in mid February with games hosted in 3 countries; India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The final match was played in Mumbai, India at Wankede Stadium with the 2 best teams facing off against each other, India and Sri Lanka.
I am new to the game of cricket but I have a love of baseball so when I was invited to watch India play Sri Lanka in the finals at a friend's house with work friends who have Indian heritage I was excited and looked forward to the match. My work friends were all eagerly awaiting this world cup final and were all born in India. They were anticipating this match-up and their excitement and pride for their team and their country were clearly evident as they stayed up the night watching pre-game analysis and interviews. The game started at 5:00 am US time and I was still sleeping at home while my friends were gathered around the large projection screen tv in the basement cheering on their team. I arrived at 9:30 am and saw my friends all focused on the game. Sri Lanka had already batted and did well. India was now batting and they got off to a slow start but they seemed to have a quiet confidence and played well. My friends called me the "good luck charm" and asked me to relax and enjoy the match.
I was immediately caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm of the match and was enjoying the action on the field and the camera views of the fans cheering as the tv cameraman would capture the emotions of the crowd. As I was watching my friends would explain some of the rules and explain what was happening as team India scored. I was impressed with the intensity of the athletes and their performances. I always heard of the game of cricket but never realized the impact the game had on the countries that field competitive teams and the fans who adore their team, its players and the game.
Some basic rules explained to me by my friends while we watched the match was how runs are scored. In cricket if the batsman hits the ball in any direction on the field and it rolls without being touched by a fielder to the outer part of the stadium hitting the markers the batsman is credited with scoring 4 runs. If he hits it over the fence he is credited with scoring 6 runs. If he places it in play on the field and runs the length of the pitch for a single he scores 1 run. There are differing styles for how the bowler bowls the ball to the batsman. Some bowlers rely on speed by running a good distance towards the batsman and throws the ball in one motion on a bounce as the batsman readies and swings with the intention of placing the ball in play on the field scoring runs. There are some bowlers who take few steps and throw with a slower speed relying more on rotation and they spin the ball so they are called spinners. At times it seems harder to hit the ball with such rotation similar to baseball when a pitcher throws a curveball.
In any major sporting event the participating teams all have their personal stories and that makes for good drama. On team India there were players on the team playing for many years and one such player for as long as 20 years who never experienced the world cup so it was nice to see what this all meant to him from his perspective. The last world cup victory for India in Cricket was 1983 so it was something the team was aware of and they knew that history was certainly in the making as their country supported them and their fans cheered for them to win.
As I watched the game play on and witnessed the skill and dedication of the athletes from both teams play I gained a real appreciation of the game and a new found interest in learning more about the teams, the players and the game. I respected the performances of the players from both Sri Lanka and India and obviously rooted for team India as I sat watching with my friends. Our host graciously served us dosa and Indian "sweets" which made it very special. I had a wonderful time watching the match with my friends and eating fine food. The game continued on to near 2:00 pm and the drama unfolding as team India continued scoring as the run count and ball count kept flashing on the screen made us all believe that India could in fact win. It was becoming more and more exciting as India drew closer and closer. I was also impressed with the 2 team captains who took their roles very seriously in guiding their teams. The captain from India displayed such courage and true skill as batsman in his drive scoring runs.
The most exciting part of the match was the very end when the batsman for India needed 4 runs to win the match and he hit a shot that travelled out over the fence scoring 6 runs and earning India a world cup victory. It was a purely magical moment and we all cheered the team as we shook hands and high fived each other. It was a proud moment for the team, the fans and India who loves it's team, it's players and the game of cricket.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience in witnessing history as team India won the world cup after a drought of 28 years. It was truly special and I was happy for my friends who savored the team victory beaming with national pride.
The one thing I was struck with at the end of the match and at the awards ceremony was the incredible sportsmanship exhibited by the two teams. The captain from Sri Lanka was very gracious and had a wonderful interview as he summed up his feelings on the match, the outcome and the two participating teams. The players of both teams were very dignified and conducted themselves with honor, pride and good sportsmanship. It was very nice to see that. I also enjoyed the interviews with the team members of India and how down to earth and polite they all are in how they conduct themselves. It was a very proud win for team India and I was glad to see it.
Edward D. Iannielli III