The road to glory
Former players hail India’s fabulous triumph
Man with the Midas touch
Kirsten leaves on a high
Kapil: The entire country was waiting for this
Brand equity of Men in Blue set to scale new levels
Channels eat cricket, sleep cricket
Paes-Bhupathi clinch World No. 1 title
When will hockey players get free passes?
The road to glory
Just a few yards down from the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai, off Marine Drive, lay three labourers sleeping, dead to the world around them that had gone mad with joy. As horns blared and people screamed, sang and danced down the street, these three lay on the sidewalk motionless, a tiring day possibly putting them beyond these noises. But they lay there in their Team India shirts, spanking new, reflecting India’s climb to the top.
The morning after saw Mumbai quiet as the people begin to soak in the reality of the victory, as well as get over the intense partying of last night. But even then, the street corners of suburban Mumbai were still going through the game, over by over, one more time.
Cricket has been the biggest unifier of Indians, more than any language, culture or politics could. The only other thing that unites people so is war, but that is not a happy alliance. This one, however, is absolutely euphoric.
April 2, 2011, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. This is where India finally played the last post for the 1983 win, which has been an inspiration for journalists and romantics, though few in the current teams would really be too bothered. They wanted their own little notch in history and they gained it in no uncertain terms.
It wasn’t easy, getting to this win. But India have always stuttered at the beginning of any World Cup, mostly being able to recover well enough to get to the semifinal or final stages.
When India began against Bangladesh on February 19, it didn’t look like there would be too much to bother them in the league stages of the tournament. After all, all that was needed was for them to beat the two associate teams in the group, Ireland and the Netherlands, while Bangladesh were not going to beat them again in an opening encounter, not after the 2007 debacle.
The ICC had also paved a fine way for them. Some hospitable opposition, a lot of facilitation in terms of giving them all their matches at home, barring the opener, and making sure that they played at Ahmedabad in the quarterfinals, irrespective of where they finished in the group, worked wonders, even more for the ICC, who made packets of money.
But India seemed to take this comfort business a little too seriously. Their win against Bangladesh was supposed to be clinical, especially since they hammered the bowling for 375 runs, thanks to Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli’s centuries. But the Bangladesh batsmen too hammered India’s weaker suite, their bowling, and made a serious fist of it.
Immediately, there were questions about the efficacy of the bowling, and the wisdom of having the likes of S. Sreesanth even in the 15, let alone the XI.
Then came the match with England, and India failed to defend 338 and were lucky to get away with a tie. The bowling was again under the cosh, especially Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s insistence of playing leg-spinner Piyush Chawla instead of selectors’ choice, offie R. Ashwin.
This duel continued for a while, and Chawla was again fielded against Ireland, and got hammered again. India were looking a little dodgy in the middle-order of their batting too, losing half of it to both Ireland and the Netherlands in what should have been fairly one-sided matches.
Then India met South Africa in Nagpur and the wheels came off. South Africa looked far superior to India in all departments. This was the time when the fans and critics equally began wondering if India had it in them to win this one, and many went on record to the contrary.
So it came to a stage where India had to beat the West Indies and also wait for decisions from matches played in Bangladesh to see if they would go through. But they beat the Caribbeans and Bangladesh had no chance against South Africa. India were in the quarterfinals.
Everyone agrees that India became serious contenders again only after they got past Australia in the quarterfinals. Australia is in a state of transition cricket-wise but they were always the team to beat. Ricky Ponting scored a hundred and Australia were in with a real chance of ending India’s run.
But they hadn’t reckoned with the determination of some of the players in the Indian team. Among them was a certain Sachin Tendulkar, and when he is determined to do anything, it radiates to the entire team. The other was Yuvraj Singh, who was clawing his back to form, both physically and mentally, after a very trying past couple of years.
They stopped Australia, and were two matches from the trophy.
Pakistan stood in their way, and the ‘real’ final was played at the completely unsuited venue of Mohali. It became a political, diplomatic and officious tamasha, and the game was pushed to the background.
Nevertheless, India had the focus and command to score 260 and Pakistan never had a shout, on that breaking, crumbling track.
The final came, once again after 2003. But this time the side was well and truly prepared. Sri Lanka’s 275 target never looked like a challenge, though India lost two big players early on. The determination was seen in the eyes of Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Dhoni and Yuvraj, and India ultimately galloped to a win.
The stars of this win are many. Zaheer Khan ran the Indian medium-pace battery almost single-handedly, coming through with wickets for his captain almost every time he bowled. Yuvraj has found his flair and the consistent scores and the useful over and vital wickets gave him the Man of the Series title. Tendulkar came up with two centuries and several contributions, while Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni himself found themselves in opportunities where they could lose and crash out. But they stood firm, as did Suresh Raina against Australia in a crucial quarterfinal.
Apart from Zaheer, Harbhajan Singh was conservative and consequently didn’t have impressive returns, while Ashwin and Chawla came in and went out, while Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel wavered between good and very poor. Sreesanth, sadly, seems like having forgotten what a good spell looks like.
Behind all this was the quiet campaign run by coach Gary Kirsten and the calmness and at times cussedness shown by Dhoni. He kept faith in his players, didn’t dismiss anyone simply because of form.
In the final, Dhoni finally also found the middle of his bat and the Man of the Match award.
Then there was Gary Kirsten, the eternally behind-the-scenes coach of the Indian team, who has taken some valuable players and polished them into classic masterpieces.
Others too left some moments to cherish, not least Mahela Jayawardene, who scored one of the finest centuries of World Cup history at the Wankhede. Then there were Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul, and strike bowlers for Pakistan; AB de Villiers, one of the best finishers in the business, Andrew Strauss, always fighting a losing battle, Dale Steyn and Lasith Malinga, fast and furious, and the one and only Muralitharan, who walked away from international cricket. Ricky Ponting too quit as captain after their quarter-final loss.
And the last: Another lot of champions were the people of India.
Mumbai, April 3
"It was a fantastic victory, no doubt about it. It gives me a great feeling as it happened in India. It also has helped in getting over the disappointment of the elimination of our team in the 1987 tournament at the same stadium," said the former batting stalwart about the country's second victory in the tournament's history.
India, under Kapil Dev, had overturned the form book to win the 1983 tournament in England but failed to defend their title four years later when the mega-event was held for the first time in the sub-continent.
"It was just a fantastic victory and a dream come true for the team which had only one goal from the beginning - to win the World Cup. The team was also superbly led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni," said former captain and cricket manager Ajit Wadekar.
Another ex-captain and former chief selector Chandu Borde described the Indian team's show as "tremendous, what a performance!" Borde, who was the team's interim cricket manager prior to coach Gary Kirsten taking over the reins before ending his stint on the high note yesterday, also showered encomiums on Dhoni for promoting himself to number five and shouldering the burden brilliantly in the final against Sri Lanka.
Mumbai, April 3
A highly emotional Yuvraj broke down before 33,000 people at the Wankhede stadium and millions watching on television, as he watched his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit the winning six in last night's final against Sri Lanka.
Yuvraj said it was difficult to control his emotions after the victory and had tears in his eyes for the first time, terming the moment as a "dream come true" for the team. "I think it was the first time I was in tears because everybody were in tears," Yuvraj said.
The dashing all rounder, who had a dream run in the high profile tournament with 369 runs and 15 wickets, said he wanted to win the coveted title for Sachin Tendulkar.
"All through the tournament I wanted to win it for him because what he has given to Indian cricket, nobody has. The things he has achieved are remarkable. I always prayed to the Almighty that you should give it to him before he retires."
It has been a remarkable change of fortune for the elegant left-hander who, a few months back, was struggling to retain his place in the team owing to poor form.
Despite being a regular in the ODI team, Yuvraj has never been able to cement a place in the Test team, which he has often said is the ultimate dream of any cricketer.
The retirement of former captain Sourav Ganguly provided him with the opportunity to cement a place in the Test team but he just could not grab the opportunity with both hands. — PTI
Kirsten leaves on a high
Mumbai, April 3 When the South African took over the reins, Indian cricket was on the recovery trail after the controversy-marred tenure of Greg Chappell, but as he prepares to leave, Kirsten surely has several reasons to rejoice. During his hugely successful and path-breaking tenure, India have risen to the summit of Test cricket, by claiming the number one spot, before winning the ultimate prize of the limited-over game - the coveted World Cup last night. After the magnificent victory, Suresh Raina fittingly carried the former South African opener on his shoulders for a lap of honour, and he was accompanied by Virat Kohli, in front of 33,000 roaring spectators. Staying well in the background and not trying to get the limelight, Kirsten had charted the glorious path for the Men in Blue. The former Proteas opener, a dour and doughty batsman, brought to the coach's job single-minded dedication as well as steely determination that helped India scale one peak after another. India needed Kirsten's calm and assured presence after their shock exit in the 2007 World Cup. Kirsten's success mantra lay in giving as much space as they desired to the top Indian players. It is significant to note that Kirsten's tenure also coincided with the re-emergence of champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar after being troubled by a spate of injuries. Spearhead Zaheer Khan also rediscovered his form during Kirsten's tenure and has played a major role in the team's success.
Mumbai, April 3
When the South African took over the reins, Indian cricket was on the recovery trail after the controversy-marred tenure of Greg Chappell, but as he prepares to leave, Kirsten surely has several reasons to rejoice.
During his hugely successful and path-breaking tenure, India have risen to the summit of Test cricket, by claiming the number one spot, before winning the ultimate prize of the limited-over game - the coveted World Cup last night. After the magnificent victory, Suresh Raina fittingly carried the former South African opener on his shoulders for a lap of honour, and he was accompanied by Virat Kohli, in front of 33,000 roaring spectators.
Staying well in the background and not trying to get the limelight, Kirsten had charted the glorious path for the Men in Blue. The former Proteas opener, a dour and doughty batsman, brought to the coach's job single-minded dedication as well as steely determination that helped India scale one peak after another. India needed Kirsten's calm and assured presence after their shock exit in the 2007 World Cup. Kirsten's success mantra lay in giving as much space as they desired to the top Indian players.
It is significant to note that Kirsten's tenure also coincided with the re-emergence of champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar after being troubled by a spate of injuries. Spearhead Zaheer Khan also rediscovered his form during Kirsten's tenure and has played a major role in the team's success. — PTI
Kapil: The entire country was waiting for this
New Delhi, April 3 Kapil had led India to its maiden World Cup triumph in the summer of 1983, and last night's win was the country's second in the tournament's 36-year-old history. "I don't think that only I was lonely on the top, it's the entire country which was waiting for this to happen," Kapil said. "It's fantastic and congrats to them. Our team deserved it. They are very good and I am very happy for the team and the entire country." So happy was Kapil that he ignored a question on India's bowling in the batting powerplay, when they let Sri Lanka off the hook by conceding 63 runs. "At this stage, I don't think I will say anything negative. They have achieved whatever they were looking for. 274 is not a small total but at the end of the day, they played well. They bowled well and played like champions. "This team has everything. I am very happy with Dhoni. The team played fabulous cricket," he said.
New Delhi, April 3
Kapil had led India to its maiden World Cup triumph in the summer of 1983, and last night's win was the country's second in the tournament's 36-year-old history.
"I don't think that only I was lonely on the top, it's the entire country which was waiting for this to happen," Kapil said.
"It's fantastic and congrats to them. Our team deserved it. They are very good and I am very happy for the team and the entire country." So happy was Kapil that he ignored a question on India's bowling in the batting powerplay, when they let Sri Lanka off the hook by conceding 63 runs.
"At this stage, I don't think I will say anything negative. They have achieved whatever they were looking for. 274 is not a small total but at the end of the day, they played well. They bowled well and played like champions.
"This team has everything. I am very happy with Dhoni. The team played fabulous cricket," he said. — PTI
The business of cricket just got bigger as Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team ended India’s 28-year-old wait to win the World Cup.
Experts say that cricket, which is hot as a business property, has got a huge boost with yesterday's epic win and its effect will last for a while.
The Indian team was fined 10 per cent match fee for slow bowling during the final, but they would not be ruing it much as the players are set to reap a bonanza.
From the ICC World Cup prize money, almost Rs 14 crore, to BCCI announcing Rs 1 crore each for the players, there are numerous other rewards being offered. Estimates are that each player would earn close to Rs 7-10 crore just by winning the final, leave aside the money from endorsements that players make.
States are vying with each other to announce rewards, in cash, awards and plots. The Delhi Government has announced an award of Rs 2 crore for MS Dhoni and Rs 1 crore each for four Delhi players. The Punjab Government has announced Rs 1 crore award for Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. The Uttarakhand Government has announced plots for Dhoni and Tendulkar. The Railways has given a lifetime free first AC pass while the Rajasthan Government has offered a free ride on the luxurious Palace on Wheels.
The endorsements value of the Indian team is set to rise dramatically after the World Cup win. The biggest gainer from the World Cup win is India's most successful captain, M S Dhoni, who now has taken the team to the number 1 spot in all three forms of the game, says Ajit Menon, CEO, Matrrixx Cricket.
Dhoni’s brand value will go upto Rs 10 crore per ad and with Tendulkar at the fag end of his career, he will be India's most prominent icon. Dhoni already has around 20 brands but unlike Tendulkar has not promoted many premium brands which is now set to change. Menon says that Dhoni's advertisement fee and also the quality of brands he endorses will go up.
The win will also boost cricket equipment manufacturers with more youngsters likely to take to the game. Apparel, goods, lifestyle products will also get a boost.
Lifestyle brands like Adidas and Reebok have got into player endorsements in a big way with players like Tendulkar and Dhoni. Though the cricket range is a small part of their sales, it has a huge rub off effect on their mainstay of footwear and apparel.
Also, its value for money to have a leading player as a brand ambassador, as the batsman is on the ground for a couple of hours with the logo on his bat and the same time for commercials would cost a bomb. Even the worst of the batsman in the team charge at least Rs 30 lakh while for the big players kit runs into crores of rupees.
Menon says that cricketers are now likely to get more ads than filmstars, which are basically the two choices that brands that have in a country where both cricket and cinema are national passions.
This will also provide an opportunity for the lesser known players to also get endorsements as the rush will be huge to sign up. In the recent past, even mid-size real estate companies have signed up players, a trend that more mid-size companies will follow.
The rub-off of this win is also likely to spillover to the IPL starting just in a few days time. There is a huge feel good effect in the country and spirits have been boosted so now the IPL will be the next big thing.
IPL ad rates and viewership are likely to go up making the property even hotter. As per a valuation last year, the IPL was valued at $4 billion. Also, every time India plays, ad rates will hit the roof in the future. The World Cup matches saw huge TRPs and sky high ad rates for major matches like the India-Pakistan semifinal when the whole country just ground to a halt.
Sports management companies say that cricket remains the biggest draw because it is the only sport in India unlike other countries where there are multiple sports that people watch. And in a country of 1.2 billion, that is huge for advertisers. Even if people don't play, they talk cricket, their moods are impacted-emotional well being is at stake. In the World Cup, even corporates shut down for big matches and business activity ground to a halt.
And most importantly cricket has heroes. Only heroes create more heroes. So when young kids watch Tendulkar or Dhoni or Zaheer Khan, they are also inspired to take up the sport.
Channels eat cricket, sleep cricket
Not only was sporting history made at the Wankhede Stadium on April 3, but in a sense television history was also made. Ever since India lifted that illusive World Cup trophy, news channels have been giving viewers a non-stop coverage to Team India and the ensuing celebrations.
Simply glance at Headlines Today line-up on Sunday evening. 7 pm: We are the Champions; 8 pm: The Magic of Mahi; 8.30 pm: Sachin Tendulkar; 9 pm: Panel discussion on the victory; 10 pm: The Coronation of Yuvraj; 10.30 pm: Thank you Gary Kirsten; and 11 pm: Bollywood and the World Cup.
To ensure saturation coverage, the network deputed all general reporters to the sports desk, the previously sanctioned off-days of all senior staff were cancelled and it was essentially all hands on deck.
Other channels are also doing the same kind of intense 24x7 coverage, tapping as Uday Shankar , CEO Star (India) said, into the mood of the nation and the euphoria over the victory which had excited Indians the world over.
The comparison with the 1983 win coverage could not have been more stark, when television sets were few and far between and satellite TV has still to spread its footprint over the nation. While India did collectively exult 28 years ago, this kind of 360 degree frenzied coverage was missing, simply because, apart from Doordarshan, the more energetic satellite channels were not there on the TVscape.
This time round, TV had made the whole event — various matches, the run-up to the final and the Mumbai face-off with Sri Lanka — much more personalised and inclusive. “Television made the cricket story,” said Shankar emphatically. By highlighting the backgrounds of the players and recounting their life stories and, in a sense, magnifying them television framed a all encompassing narrative for its viewership. It pushed and created a national mood.
On its part, the public was hungry for this kind of addictive and absorbing coverage of a positive story. “In these scam-filled days, the nation is looking for heroes,” added Rajdeep Sardesai, CNN-IBN editor-in-chief and the country, and channels, found their heroes in the 14-15 members of the victorious India cricketing team.
And the television rating points (TRPs) proved it. Mid-week, the TRPs had also peaked during the India-Pakistan semifinals played at Mohali. According to TAM Sports Data, that event had a TRP of 36.22 across four metros for the 484-minute telecast reaching 40 million people. And when TRPs went up so did the advertising rates which were an amazing Rs 35 lakh for a 10-second spot for both the semifinals and the final.
So not only was sporting and television history made this weekend, but also advertising history was scripted.
A record: 67.6 mn watched final
India and Sri Lanka cricket World Cup final smashed all previous records for television viewership with 67.6 million viewers watching it for more than four hours, rating agency Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd (aMap) claimed on Sunday.
The match got ratings of 13.7, which is the highest for any event so far and when the winning moment arrived, the ratings peaked to 21.44, the rating agency said in a release.
“Yesterday’s viewership broke all records. Every Indian was glued on to TV to see the big win! 64 per cent of homes (C&S) were watching the game. The match was on for an average of 4 hours in every household. Ratings peaked towards the end of the match when India held the World Cup. Advertisers can celebrate along with Team India,” said Jiniti Shah, vice-president aMap.
“Advertisers can celebrate along with Team India. Viewership increased almost 4 times yesterday. Until the quarterfinals, India's matches had an average rating of 3.7. Quarterfinals saw it increase to 5, semifinals 11 and yesterday's big win made it 13.6,” Shah added. — PTI
Miami, April 3
Third seeded Bhupathi and Paes rallied to beat second seeded Belarusian-Canadian pair of Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 6-7(5) 6-2 10-5. Paes had, in fact won the title even last year with Lukas Dlouhy, but for Bhupathi it was his first career title at Crandon Park.
"The key (to us winning) was just fighting as a team. Like Leander said, we didn't play our best match of the week. All four of us were tentative in the beginning," Bhupathi told 'sonyericssonopen.com'. The Indian Express duo were up 6-5 in the first set but let it slip by conceding a break and never had a lead in the tie-break.
"We had a chance to win that set but we didn't take it - threw away the breaker pretty much," Bhupathi said. Bhupathi and Paes found their rhythm in the second set and were also helped by a double fault by Nestor in the fourth game. That enabled the Indians to take a 3-1 lead and they never looked back after that.
"My level dropped after the first set. We didn't get enough balls in play and they served better as the match went on. Max played well, so I feel bad about that. But we played against a tough team today," Nestor admitted.
The win takes the Indians ahead of World number one Bob and Mike Bryan for first place in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings and in the battle to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. It is Paes and Bhupathi's second team title of the year, following the Chennai Open at the start of the season.
"It's still early for us. The season is broken down into four segments - this is just the first of them. If we're still No. 1 after the US Open, then we'll start getting excited," said Bhupathi. Paes finished runner-up to Nestor and Zimonjic with Lukas Dlouhy last year at the French Open, after he and the Czech won it in 2009.
"We love playing on the dirt. We got a month off now to get ourselves physically fit and get ready for a lot of long matches on the clay," Paes said. "The clay definitely helps us because we train so hard for it over the years but at the same time there are a lot of singles guys who play well on the dirt too. At the French Open, I think it's one of the hardest slams to win, but if we're physically right, I think it will be good," he added. — PTI
When will hockey players get free passes?
Chandigarh, April 3
“We are happy that the Union Railway Minister has announced lifetime free travel in air condition (first class) to players and families of the Indian cricket team, but we want the Ministry to release aircondition (second class) free travel facility to left out members of the Indian hockey team that won the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur,” says Brigadier Harcharan Singh, a member of the champion team.
Though 11 members of the 1975 World Cup champion team got the lifetime free travel passes in 1994, five members - Brigadier HJS Chimni, Ashok Dewan, Onkar Singh, Kalliah and Fernandes - could not be given the passes for one reason or the other. Incidentally, a couple of them represented Railways in the national championships before and after the maiden World Cup triumph.
“We have made several representations to the Union Railway Ministry to end this discrimination and extend the same facility to them also as other members of the victrious Indian team are enjoying since 1994. So far we have met with no success. Now is the time for us to remind the Railway Ministry to honour its commitment and extend the same facility to left out members of the World Cup champion team,” adds Brigadier Harcharan Singh.
He further says that hockey players are not asking for upgradation of their travel facility from air condition (second class) to air condition (first class) to be at par with the cricket players, but want that those who could not be extended this facility earlier should not be denied this any longer.