'Windia!' Nation celebrates 'Cup of joy'

India showers praise on nation's cricket heroes as they defeat Sri Lanka to end long wait for Cricket World Cup glory.

    A day after India's Cricket World Cup victory over Sri Lanka, the nation seems to be drenched in blue.

    Major newspapers and websites changed their backgrounds and logos to blue, the colour of the team's jersey, to celebrate the team's success.

    The billion-plus nation erupted in joy after the memorable win in Mumbai on Saturday, which came after a wait of 28 years since they last lifted the trophy.

    Newspaper front pages were splashed with winning moments and the resulting celebrations across the country.

    The New Delhi-based Indian Express summed the victory in the shortest and possibly the best headline: "WINDIA". While Mumbai-based tabloid Mid-Day said "India on top of the world".

    "The world at our feet" crowed the front page headline in the Times of India, the country's largest selling newspaper.

    "The wait has ended and a new legend has been born," the Times said, putting Mahendra Singh Dhoni's squad on the same pedestal as the last Indian team to win the World Cup back in 1983.

    The Hindustan Times did not even bother with a headline, covering its front page with a picture of the joyous Indian players behind a huge hoarding in the Wankhede Stadium bearing the slogan "Champions".

    "Men who make history defy all the odds," the Hindustan Times said, labelling the win "a resounding announcement of India's official coronation as the world's best team."

    The Mail Today ran "Cup of Joy" over a picture of champagne bursting over the players' heads as they held up the trophy.

    The media was seen singing paeans to the leadership qualities of Indian captain Dhoni.

    S Kannan wrote in Delhi-based paper Mail Today: "Hail Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the champion Indian cricket captain. On a night when the heat inside the Wankhede Stadium could have singed you and the pressure could have left you breathless, the inspirational leader showed what it is to lead from the front as Team India crushed Sri Lanka to win the ICC World Cup."

    Columnist Ayaz Memon wrote in Mid-Day: "In the years since, India had become the epicentre of the game, but not the best. Was Indian cricket not good enough or just not ambitious enough? The answer was provided tellingly in six weeks of riveting cricket, culminating in a pulsating final that now makes India's suzerainty in the game comprehensive."

    Another cricket journalist Prem Panicker was succinct in his praise when he said, "Enjoy the win -- such moments come once in a lifetime."

    And most newspapers ran special articles to honour star batsman Sachin Tendulkar who, at 37, was almost certainly appearing in his last World Cup tournament.

    Praise and congratulations poured in from all quarters, including Indian President Pratibha Patil.

    "All of you truly deserve the thanks of a billion plus Indians today," she said in a message to the team, while  Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, thanked the players for having "made India proud."

    The head of the ruling Congress party and country's most powerful woman, Sonia Gandhi, also descended into celebration mode when she came out on the road waving to the jubilant people from her Tata Safari car.

    Thousands of enthusiastic fans also took to the streets in Dhoni's hometown Ranchi to celebrate the victory.

    A different mood in Lanka

    The tone was very different in Sri Lanka, where the state-run media blasted everything from the preparation of the national team to the squad selection.

    The Sunday Observer particularly questioned the wisdom of playing a half-fit Muttiah Muralitharan, the ace spinner and world record wicket-taker, who was retiring after Saturday's game.

    "Was it advisable playing a half-fit Muralitharan?" the state-run paper said. "Winning the mega final is much more important than giving a farewell tribute to even a great cricketer of Muralitharan's magnitude."

    Significantly, after the match yesterday, Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain, was graceful in defeat. He said his team were disappointed at missing out on a second World Cup title but proud to go down to a team that deserved victory more.

    "We are disappointed but the better side won," Kumar said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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