Colombo: If you visited the team hotel last night after India’s facile win over Pakistan, you wouldn’t believe that the team was staying at a five-star hotel. Rather, it seemed like Woodstock.
A whole swarm of people entered the hotel with the Indian team – beating drums, cheering wildly, shouting slogans, patting their backs and for a moment, the Indian team must’ve felt very much at home. Some guys even managed to find a band that drummed up a fair number of Indian songs and that was all the invitation people needed to start dancing. And this was all happening in the lobby.
In India, this would have been a security hazard but here – it was an outpouring of joy that seemed natural and fair; almost in tune with the vibe that Sri Lanka gives out. Back home, fans never really get the chance to get close to the cricket stars but here they had the opportunity and they just didn’t let it go.
It would have perhaps almost been a reminder to the Indian team – that had looked rather glum in the days leading up the match of what they really play cricket for. And the crazy celebrations would have made you believe that India had not just managed to stay alive in the tournament, but rather, they had won it.
The Pakistan fans sat in one corner mostly, drowning their sorrows after a disappointing loss to say the least. They were never in the game. The contrast couldn’t have been greater.
After the match, Dhoni spoke about the calm in the Indian dressing room ahead of the game.
“We were not desperate to win today. I always felt that if you are desperate for a win, you put more pressure on yourself. There is no point doing that. We want to live in the present and not think too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
“We had a very relaxed dressing room atmosphere. Before the match started today, I could see there was some positive energy among the players and I thought we would do well today,” he said.
India did well and it was in no small measure due to the performances of Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh.
“If we look at our combination, we play seven batsmen and you can’t leave out someone like Yuvraj Singh. We had never considered the option of leaving out Yuvraj,” Dhoni said. “Our bowling line-up is such that we need a left-arm bowler who can take the ball away from the batsman. Also he is a brilliant fielder as you saw with the run-out today,” he added.
Yuvraj’s fitness has been questioned by former India captain Ravi Shastri in the last few days but Dhoni laid those fears to rest.
“I am not really concerned about his fitness as far as this format is concerned. He has worked really hard at the NCA for the past few months. The knock he played today would’ve helped his confidence as well.”
But the star of the show was undoubtedly Kohli once again. It’s amazing how in a short while, the 23-year-old has become so integral to the Indian team.
“It’s good that Kohli is taking the responsibility. He has been someone who has been consistent in the last one and half years. It is good that a batsman has been in consistent form and others are revolving around him,” said the India skipper.
In one of the press conferences earlier in the tournament, Kohli was asked how he was dealing with his great run of form and what he was doing to keep it going.
His answer was simple: “I am not thinking about it. I just want to go out there and bat.”
And if he keeps doing that then the Indian team will be coming back to a few more rousing welcomes back to their hotel. If you believe, the Indian fans, this party is only just beginning.