Misbah-ul-Haq plays a shot off the bowling of Yuvraj Singh during the Cricket World Cup semifinal match between India and Pakistan in Mohali.
Having been involved in all four previous World Cup wins over Pakistan, I can imagine what the team must be feeling. The victory means a lot more than the previous ones, because it came at home with a place in the final at stake.
While playing, cricket consumes your bandwidth and you are insulated from everything else. But when you look on from outside, you realise how much this match means to the fans. You come to sense the intensity of the discussions, and what strikes you is that everyone is seized by the importance of Pakistan.
Playing a bilateral series is different because if you lose one match, you can always bounce back in the next. This was the semifinal of the World Cup, and we were playing Pakistan. That was the clincher. This was a knockout situation, and the only way forward, to the final, was by winning.
Flood of emotions
I watched the match at home with friends, and was able to connect to the people. The roads were silent, but once it was all over, the celebration was unbelievable. The bottomline was how much the people rejoiced and there was a feeling of unconditional oneness that is difficult to describe. The spontaneous outbreak of emotions was pure patriotism.
I wonder what the reaction would have been had India lost. That's a scary thought. I only hope people are responsible enough, and that cricketing fanaticism does not supersede sporting spirit.
Both India and Pakistan performed wonderfully well, and it was a shame that only one could go forward. I wish Pakistan had come from the other half and the teams could have met in the final. I also hope that people in Pakistan respect what the team has done and how well it played throughout.
The cricket was gripping. The decision to bring back Ashish Nehra was brave and wise. He was perhaps justifiably left out of the West Indies and Australia matches after that last over against South Africa, which cost India the match.
That over must have been haunting him but he redeemed himself with a wonderful spell that was so crucial to India winning the match.
The batting let us down a little bit, but the bowling and fielding bailed us out.
Harbhajan Singh striking form at the right time has reinforced the hopes of winning the Cup. His dismissal of Umar Akmal was the turning point of the match.
Sachin Tendulkar was a bit scratchy, but when you have played more than 450 one-dayers, you are allowed one or two of those! I am sure a special is on the cards when he plays the final at the ground where his journey began.