Win it for the millions, boys!

If you were not aware, there is a war of sorts on. And yes, there is also the World Cup final, to be played on Sunday.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2003 00:21 IST

If you were not aware, there is a war of sorts on, somewhere in the world. And yes, there is also the 2003 World Cup final, to be played on Sunday, just round the corner at the Wanderers. But from where we are sitting, these two places may be equal in distance.

The World Cup has finished in South Africa, regardless of what the organisers may say. It was over on that disastrous rain-drenched day in Durban, when their team went out of the competition. As far as the locals are concerned, the only point of interest left is to see if India can beat Australia in the final.

Sourav Ganguly was asked on Friday what it meant for him to be captain of an Indian team that had reached the Cup final. “It's a huge thing for us,” he replied.

“Cricket is more than a sport back in India. In the last three years, we have reached the finals of two ICC Trophies, in Nairobi and Colombo, and now we are in the World Cup final.

“I think we have shown that we can do well in high-pressure tournaments. All I can tell the fans back home is that we will do our best.”

That would be good enough. Not many had anticipated that we would be in the final.

In fact, some had castigated the Indian team after the first round loss to Australia, and emphasised that the team would not make the Super Six.

Many are still trying to digest the words they had to eat.

Ganguly has always been a target man, for the media and some misguided officials, who are always after him, waiting for him to fail.

He cannot relax, cannot have a bad patch, and cannot even lose a game to a superior side without some grumbling.

Even now, after reaching so far, I am sure that a loss in the final will get some people to say a lot of unkind things.

The skipper has handled all that well, as have his team-mates, fighting back with amazing resilience.

India has not been in a happy situation as a nation for a long time.

Constant friction with Pakistan, a tenuous economy, terrorism and communal violence, combined with weak political leadership, has made the country wheeze for breath. The advance of the cricket team into the World Cup final has worked like a fresh dose of oxygen, as the lungs and chest swell with pride. Our boys have done on the field what few Indians have achieved, anywhere in the world.

So it is down to one game, be it against Australia.

Go on boys, win this one, win it for the country, for pride, for the millions who have little hope, lesser joy, in their lives. Win it so that they can smile, and, at least for a while, say proudly that they are Indians.

That may be the best moment of their lives, and they deserve it, as you do.

First Published: Mar 23, 2003 00:21 IST