Mumbai, April 1: "Every match this World Cup has been a struggle for us", the words from Indian skipper M S Dhoni resonate with the collective Indian pulse that knows how India has surmounted tremendous challenges to reach the summit of the World Cup 2011. Indeed, when it takes on Sri Lanka in Saturday's game, it would feel like the home side is playing nothing short of a second final in the tournament, its semi-final clash with Pakistan appearing to be the first.
The stakes were so high at Mohali for the previous game. Politicians, movie stars and fans had turned out in force, responding with lusty glee to the hype and hoopla surrounding the biggest game in years and one that was being billed as "the mother of all battles".
When India beat Pakistan at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Wednesday (scorecard), it triggered a party across the nation with revellers turning out on the street to celebrate the victory into the wee hours of the morning. Police bandobast had to be arranged at the last minute to pacify the myriad regalers in different corners of the nation. Fireworks and slogans rented the air for hours together, in cities from Chandigarh to Kochi and from Mumbai to Kolkata. Indeed, it felt like India had won a final.
Already as Asian champions, India have an opportunity to reassert its dominance of the subcontinent in a rematch of trhe Asia Cup final last year. In that sense too, the home team is playing a second final, to take its superiority from the Asian continent to the whole world. Hopefully it is transfiguration in status which will occur on the fateful day that is tomorrow, April 2, 2011.