T20 World Cup 2024: Barbados comes to halt at Indian triumph

India had waited eleven years for this moment so you can imagine the level of catharsis this victory brought the players who were being told that they were not good enough even though they have been the best in the world for a while now.
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 15:58 IST

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Barbados: This was not a picture. It only seemed like one. For a micro-second, everything at the Kensington Oval froze. The clock read: 2.02 pm (local time).

India would have liked to sleep, but couldn’t. Everyone at the stadium wanted to move, but couldn’t. Everyone at the press box wanted to write, but couldn’t. 

When the final ball of the final lobbed and then trickled towards Arshdeep Singh at midwicket off the bat of Anrich Nortje and off the bowling of Hardik Pandya, India had won a title from a match they were not supposed to win. 

Arshdeep flicked the ball towards the pitch and ran towards his men. 

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, at covers, fell to his knee and then his face hit the ground without any effort to stop. 

Hardik sat down on the pitch, cross-legged first and then stretched out, resting his hands behind him. 

Kohli, at long off, threw his hands up, put up a ‘namaste’ over his head, and then slumped. 

While everyone on the ground was in different stages of disbelief before breaking into tears, the camera panned towards the dugout. 

Coach Rahul Dravid looked like he had gone back two decades. That teeth-grinding expression with plenty of fist-flailing and random high-fiving was back. 

The others had their hands up, not knowing how to process anything. They all hugged. They all screamed and the stadium swayed to the emotional outburst from a machine. The incongruence was unsettling, but once the team lined up to collect their winner’s medals, it all made sense again. 

But, when Kohli announced his retirement from a format, you could sense a loss. When Rohit announced his retirement from the format an hour or so later, you could sense a loss. You also sensed a loss in watching Dravid because this was his last assignment as the Indian coach. 

Still, it was impossible to allow these three exits to come in the way of what will go down as one of the greatest victories at a T20 World Cup, maybe even ever. 

Once through with the trophy ceremony, the players hung around on the field, meeting family members and such, before charging up the stairs to the dressing room. They were being summoned for a call. 

Turns out, it was from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Even the typically relaxed Rohit had to move a bit quicker to get to the call. 

Once through, they took turns taking pictures with the trophy, but the prize spent more time with the Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Jay Shah’s hands than anyone else’s. It was a rather jarring visual for he wouldn’t let go of the trophy when the players were trying to get some time with it. 

All of this was happening on the balcony and open to everyone to see, but the happenings of the insides of the dressing room could be heard, and it was quite stirring. 

Standing no more than a few feet from the modest dressing room, you could hear the team pop open the champagne and celebrate with a series of huzzahs. 

India had waited eleven years for this moment so you can imagine the level of catharsis this victory brought the players who were being told that they were not good enough even though they have been the best in the world for a while now. 

Even Rohit, typically nonchalant around journalists, was not himself. He thanked the media and took his time signing autographs and taking pictures with anyone present. He’d do that on any other day too, but this was him signing off. Literally. He had only a few moments ago announced to the gathering that he was done for in this format.

Cradling the trophy, he returned to the dressing room, and we heard it all over again. The huzzahs came hard and they came louder than before. 

Friends and family were still on the ground, looking up to see if they could get more time with their people. In moments like this, though, teams and the camaraderie that individuals within it share outweigh families of their own, even if only for a few moments. 

That camaraderie is what made India the newest world champions. That camaraderie is what gave Dravid his second ICC title. That camaraderie is what led to Kohli and Rohit retiring without a monkey on their backs. 

That camaraderie is more than anything we will ever be able to touch. It’s theirs and theirs alone, but we should be so grateful that we got to experience them thrive in it.  

Published 30 June 2024, 15:58 IST

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