When Kapil’s Devils won the World Cup in 1983, cricket was still one of the sports in India and a champion team needed a true blue cricket fan Lata Mangeshkar to hold a concert so that each member could earn Rs 1 lakh.
In 2011, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team won, the BCCI was already a billion dollar entity. And, in the 28 years between 1983 and 2011, cricket had become an “industry”.
A dozen of years have passed by and as Rohit Sharma and his men go all out to win the Cup for the third time on Sunday, cricket as a sport is now a medium of ‘Soft Power’ for the country.
‘Soft Power’ is a term that defines countries which use sports and culture to enhance their geo-political influence. Cricket does give India the chance to flex its muscles not only in the sporting community but also socio-politically, in the larger context.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence during the final on Sunday, a grand air-show by the Indian Air Force, two former Cup winning captains Kapil and Dhoni watching from the stands with a bevy of who’s who from the world of entertainment and politics in attendance, the grandeur will be unmatched.
There will be cultural programmes by Bollywood music director Pritam, singer Jonita Gandhi and current Coke Studio’s Gujarati singing sensation Aditya Gadhavi of ‘Gotilo’ fame.
Programmes have been lined up before toss and at the innings break with 500 dancers from Mumbai expected to gyrate to popular Bollywood numbers.
Possibly for the visiting Australian team and also for the greater TV audience across the globe, it would be a taste of India’s soft power with cricket being a tool.
There will be audience too, at least 1.30 lakh, who wouldn’t want to settle for anything less than a global crown and another 1.39 billion sitting in their homes.
Like every India match in this World Cup, it will be an ‘Ocean of Blue’ in the stands and on the streets.
The counterfeit industry had a boom time, and all the No. 18s and 45s — jersey numbers of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma respectively — will be whipped away from the street corner in a flash.
Little ones, their dads, moms, grand dads and the pesky neighbour, everyone will ‘Bleed Blue’ come Sunday.
This will certainly be an ‘Evening to Remember’ but only time will tell whether Rohit and his men can make it an ‘Evening to Savour’.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)