Sachin Tendulkar didn't watch Mahendra Singh Dhoni's winning shot, a six over long on off Nuwan Kulasekara, that clinched India the World Cup final against Sri Lanka on Saturday night.
The batting maestro was inside the dressing room, his hands clasped, eyes shut and prayers on his lips. It was the deafening roar of the capacity crowd that shook him and made him realise that his life-long dream had been realised. "I was not listening to anything at that time. I was not watching too. I was just praying to God. I realised that we have won the Cup when the entire stadium went up in a cheer," Tendulkar said when MiD DAY caught up with him outside the dressing room at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
He played in five World Cups before without success. His dream was fulfilled on his home ground , the Wankhede Stadium. Then, in a matter of a few moments, he moved from being immersed in himself to being lost in the frenzy of celebration. "I am really speechless. I don't know what to say! It's a feeling which I can't explain in any language," he said.
"It is a different kind of feeling. I am on a high. I believe now I am living in a different planet. It feels as if I am flying high." As he hugged his teammates one by one, tears rolled down his cheeks.
Then, as he has done on every occasion of reaching a milestone, he remembered his late father. "Khushi ke aansu bhi hote hain. Yeah, if he were here, he would have been the happiest person. He is always in my mind," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar was touched when the group of NSG commandos tasked with protecting him requested to be photographed with him and his family. Tendulkar immediately went into the dressing room and returned with son Arjun. Father and son posed with the commandos for the picture. "They are the real heroes. They defend our nation," the premier batsman said. The members of the Indian team might disagree, though. For them, he was God, the reason they played and won the coveted title. "I am not at all a special person. It was a nice gesture by the teammates. If you are talking about special, our nation is special. The people of our nation are special. We won the World Cup for them," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar praised man of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh: He has been absolutely wonderful," he said.