Even before the morning haze at the Brabourne Stadium could dissipate, India had risen through the ranks, leaping past the final hurdles as they reached the summit of Test cricket. No. 1 in the world. It was a good feeling.
And despite fans knowing that the match probably wouldn’t last more than a session, they came out in big numbers. Not just to see their cricketers in action, but to see them create a slice of history. Their own “we were there,” moment. India became only the third team in the world, after Australia and South Africa, to end the year at No. 1 since the rankings system was established in May 2001.
For the record, India knocked down the remaining four wickets swiftly on Sunday morning to beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 24 runs and won the series 2-0.
“Dream come true? Absolutely!” exclaimed Sachin Tendulkar, as the players tried to soak in the atmosphere at the Brabourne, which was hosting Test cricket after 36 years. “This is a reflection of what we have been able to achieve in the last 20 months or so. It is a special day for me and all the Indians. It is great to be sitting on the top.”
Zaheer Khan hastened Sri Lanka’s demise as he scalped three wickets in the morning to finish with his first five-wicket haul in the series. It was a short, sharp spell from the left-arm pacer, which snuffed the life out of the Sri Lankan fightback as they lost Kumar Sangakkara in the first over itself. The Sri Lankan captain had delayed India’s march to No. 1 with a defiant 133; but he fell to a Zaheer delivery that left the bat late after pitching. Sangakkara had added only four runs to his overnight 133.
Sri Lanka’s resistance on the final day spanned only 7.4 overs and lasted a shade over half an hour. Harbhajan Singh had Muttiah Muralitharan, who provided some entertainment with his idiosyncratically carefree batting (14 off 19 with three fours), caught by Dhoni as the stadium erupted in celebration.
“We were outbatted and outbowled, but mostly outbowled,” admitted Sangakkara. “2-0 is a realistic scoreline the way the Indians played and the way we played especially in the last two Test matches. But we are a better side than what the scoreline says.”
A long huddle and lots of smiles later, the Indian team walked back into the pavilion, as the best Test team in the world.
The party begins
After the work on the field was done the players began their celebrations with the BCCI Awards function at CCI Following this they adjourned to Mukesh Ambani’s palatial residence to take part in a felicitation ceremony for Sachin Tendulkar, star of the Mumbai Indians, the IPL team Ambani owns. The real party, however, was back at the team hotel when all was said and done.