May the best team (India) win
The fever rose as Sean Paul, Shaggy and Kevin Lyttle belted out their hip-hop chartbusters, throwing the 15,000 gathered Jamaicans into a frenzy of rocking and swaying.
The ninth edition of the World Cup got off to a magical, musical start and it can only be hoped that what follows will live up to the expectations created by an unforgettable Sunday evening.
Superiority at cricket was one of the means by which the people of the West Indies took on their colonial masters, and earned respect for themselves and a voice in the international arena. But music has also always been a dominant force in the Caribbean islands. Jamaica is home to Bob Marley, the man who made reggae and Rastafarianism symbols of protest and liberation.
There was an Indian touch to the ceremony too, with a Bollywood-type dance and a Hindi song, while Trinidadian-Indian Mungal Patasar played the sitar and performed a jugalbandi of sorts with Len Sharpe and Luther Francois representing Caribbean steel bands.
The real stars of this event, however, were the cricketers. All 16 teams came out in alphabetical order, marching Olympics-style, and while the hosts received the loudest cheers, the Indians were not far behind.
Back in India, the much-awaited event was a big dampener, with SetMax — the official broadcaster — choosing to screen a Hindi film instead of the opening ceremony. A SetMax spokesman told agencies: “We were not sure how many people would be interested in watching it.”
From India’s perspective, the news of the day was Australian skipper Ricky Ponting’s counter-attack on Sunil Gavaskar in Australian newspapers for saying the Aussies were disliked despite their dominance because of their “awful” on-field behaviour. Ponting insinuated that Gavaskar was a hypocrite and more or less told him to mind his own business.
Hopefully though, the Cup will be about Sunday evening and reggae legend Jimmy Cliff’s resounding call of “Let us be together” that ended the show as a thousand colourfully dressed dancers unfurled the flags of the nine island nations hosting the event. May the best team win.