Written by Shriya Rajachandra
Often, I think about the 2011 World Cup – the finals in particular. There is a picture of me, sitting next to my grandmom with paint smeared on my face and a tee that reads, “My brother is the coolest.” Each time I look at this image, my heart leaps with joy. The picture feels like a permanent acknowledgement that we were alive when ‘Dhoni finished off in style’.
This picture also reminds me of the child-like innocence, love and comfort that came with the World Cup win. Innocence – for I thought ordering a pizza would help Team India win;
I sought comfort in my brother’s words, “The game is over. The win is ours”. And love – for I saw the entire country come to a standstill and celebrate like there was no tomorrow.
That night, my life changed. From then on, in each tournament and each World Cup, I craved to live through the emotions that the picture reminded me of. And on the eve of the 2023 World Cup finals, approximately 12 years later, everything felt like 2011 once again.
My voice trembled hard as I admitted this to a friend. The innocence, love and comfort soared through, yet it felt strange. We hadn’t reached our desired feat, so how were these feelings coming back?
I looked at my dad, who profusely refused to watch the semi-finals, secretly hoping his efforts would help the team. I looked at my brother, whose undying optimism guaranteed a win. Soon, I found myself promising to order a pizza.
“With a deep understanding of the game, It’s funny how you find yourself in the same position after all these years,” I laughed at myself. However, as I type this out, I realise that in 12 years, the feeling of 2011 had touched me several times.
Innocence engulfed me when Team India beat Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Test series, and the words, “toota hai Gabba ka ghamand” echoed through the corridors of cricket. I found comfort when AB Devilliers destroyed the West Indies to score the fastest ODI century.
I met love when Appa yelled, “This is dangerous. We will lose,” while my brother and I simply laughed at our appa.
I had it all wrong. I was chasing the wrong source to feel like 2011 all over again. In 2011, India won, and my life changed. I found my calling – the world of sports is where I belonged. It was this realisation that made me feel innocent, loved and comforted. I had found my place in the world.
So whatever happens today, I raise a glass to the cricket side of me that I will protect at all costs. I raise a glass to my 11-year-old self and promise that “there is no place like sport.”
A sports fanatic, Shriya writes engrossing sports stories and her thoughts on the happenings of the sporting world.