MS Dhoni celebrates after defeating Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final at the Wanderers stadium.
There is a freshness and innocence in youth which turn even a sceptic into a believer, more so when the end result is victory. And when that victory comes to a struggling nation which has rarely seen triumphs of this nature, it is reason enough to lose one's sanity, even if for only a few moments.
Dhoni and his men have done what Kapil Dev and his team did in 1983. The comparison may not be apt, for the one-day format when India won the Cup had been accepted by the world and unlike now, 1983 was the third edition of the tournament.
By all counts, in its very first edition, the T20 World Cup has made such a huge impact that it won't take long for the 50-50 format to become almost extinct. The purists may be sceptical, but just a reminder that for the followers of the classical version, even 50-50 was unacceptable at the start. <b1>
So, there is as much to bemoan the impending death of Pyjama Cricket as there is to celebrate the arrival of, as someone put it, Knickers Cricket.
In India, the celebrations could go on forever but such is the never-ending cycle of ceaseless cricket that we will be playing 13 one-day matches at home against Australia and Pakistan in a span of a month. This one month will show how different the 50-50 game is from its briefest version, the T20.
But there will be time to debate all that later and also reflect on whether Dhoni and his men won because they were not supposed to do so and hence were under no pressure. Just like Kapil and his band of daredevils were under no pressure in 1983 as no one even in their wildest dreams expected them to win.
Then too we all celebrated the arrival of youth and a new fearless India, like the way we are doing now. Every time we win something major — like the Test series against Australia at home in 2001, the Test series in Pakistan in 2004 or our dream run until we lost that final in the 2003 World Cup — we all attribute it to a new emerging India that is not saddled with the baggage of the past.
Dhoni and his men are as fearless now as Kapil and his men were, or Sourav and his men once were. This quality of being fearless lends itself easily to young, smiling faces whose intensity and passion on the field is difficult to match.
Only a fearless man can take risks and when those risks work, fetch positive results, the world names it astuteness and great tactical acumen. Dhoni has done nothing wrong is this tournament. He has remained calm, has backed his teammates and has achieved results. He benched Agarkar for a nobody like Joginder Sharma, he removed Karthik for Yusuf Pathan even when Sehwag was not playing. Just imagine, had India lost! Just imagine, had Joginder’s last over been a disaster — a possibility given the way Misbah-ul-Haq played. The same fearlessness may have been called lack of experience or even foolhardiness. <b2>
That Dhoni is willing to back his instincts and judgement, regardless of how he would be perceived or what the results are, shows the strength and character of the man more than his leadership skills.
As one watched him move around with assertive self-assurance once the deed was done and admired him for putting his shirt on a young, dazed child, one thought flashed through the mind: This man could lead India with an iron hand.
Whether he leads them with as much distinction as he has done now is to be seen. But for now, let us all join our hands to celebrate the great moment.