Vijay Zol, left, celebrates with teammate Akhil Herwadkar after India's victory over Australia in the the 2012 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup final in Townsville, Australia. (AP Photo/International Cricket Council, Ian Hitchcock)
It is almost unthinkable that on a day when India completed a crushing Test victory over New Zealand, with more than a day to spare to reassert their supremacy at home, the bigger celebrations were focused on the achievement of the juniors.
However, it was only understandable that stalwarts like skipper MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli led the praise for the under-19 World Cup triumph in faraway Townsville. Skipper Unmukt Chand struck a memorable century to upstage hosts and defending champions Australia.
Although it may not be fair to compare the seniors and juniors, the victory has given Indian fans, especially those Down Under, much to rejoice after agonising early in the year when Dhoni and Co suffered a 4-0 Test series rout.
The Indian contingent in Townsville declared the party open the moment India surpassed the victory target of 226. While his teammates rushed onto the field to embrace Chand (111 not out) and Smit Patel (62 not out), a few spectators too jumped over the fence to join in the celebrations.
“It is a very emotional moment, I would like to thank all the people in India who prayed for us and to all the Indian fans at the ground,” Chand said at the presentation ceremony. “We have set no limits for our celebrations, so please forgive us if we go a bit overboard tonight!”
After going berserk with the trophy in hand, the entire team struck the famous Usain Bolt pose. “Once we went back to the dressing room, we had a soft-drink party. We sprayed it over everyone, from teammates to the masseur to the physio to our coaches,” an overjoyed Harmeet Singh told HT from Townsville.
Once the venue of the party shifted to the team hotel, most of the Indian population from the town invited itself. “We are going to have a blast. First we are all going to sit and enjoy dinner together,” said Harmeet. “We feel very proud. We feel so proud we feel like just yelling. In fact, we feel like crying, we are so unbelievably happy.”
As music blared in the background, Chand was in a similar mood. “We are very, very happy. It is simply amazing. The boys just want to enjoy the party tonight.” Opener Prashant Chopra explained the unbridled emotions among the bunch. “We kept telling ourselves that the final is just another game, but deep down we knew it wasn’t. It was the World Cup final against Australia, in Australia. So it’s a huge achievement for us.”
India's Under-19 team celebrates World Cup victory.