Mumbai: India is euphoric with the surprise victory in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup on Tuesday, six months after the team’s ignominious first-round exit in the 50-over version of the tournament.
The tense five-run win over Pakistan in the final in Johannesburg on Monday ended a 24-year wait for a World Cup triumph and promoted rapturous celebrations in the cricket-crazy country.
“I am absolutely delighted, what a great performance,” Kapil Dev, India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain, told Reuters.
The victory achieved by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side drew parallels with the 1983 win when Kapil’s equally unsung team pulled off an upset victory over mighty West Indies at Lord’s.
Kapil believes this team could form the nucleus of the side for the 50-over World Cup to be hosted in the sub-continent in 2011.
“If they keep on playing well, yes this is the team. (But) We should go step-by-step and not start imagining things,” he said.
The national team were slammed after their flop in this year’s World Cup in the Caribbean and began as rank outsiders in the Twenty20 event with Dhoni named captain after Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly opted out.
“Excellent, we have found the right captain now,” Kapil said of Dhoni’s leadership.
The flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman was named one-day captain for home series against Australia and Pakistan after Dravid’s sudden resignation as skipper this month after the series against England.
“It was a brilliant effort by the team... Dhoni led the team to a fabulous victory and I can say Indian cricket is in safe hands,” Tendulkar was quoted by Indian media on Tuesday.
“Young blood in a billion hearts,” screamed the headline on the main page of national daily Indian Express with a picture of the team in wild celebration and Pakistan batsman Misbah-ul-Haq slumped to the ground. “Top of the world,” said the headline in the Hindustan Times while the Times of India said “Pakistunned.”
The Indian cricket board announced a ticker-tape welcome for the team when they arrive in Mumbai on Wednesday.