"I was in a state of shock," Gary Kirsten said as he described his emotions to Ratnakar Shetty, the World Cup tournament director, who also happens to be the BCCI's chief administrative officer, less than 24 hours after India had become world champions. Both men stood on the lawns of the Raj Bhavan, residence of the Governor of Maharasthra, whose capital city is Mumbai. If you were expecting to see bleary-eyed men sleep walking you would have been disappointed. The entire India squad, along with the support staff, had turned up to meet the president of India Pratibha Patil. Wearing the smart green and white-collared team T-shirts, every man looked fresh and relaxed.
Not that there were no celebrations after the World Cup triumph. As Yuvraj Singh had assured last evening, he would make sure it would be an unforgettable night. "I did not sleep," he said, wearing a pair of much-needed sunglasses. Paddy Upton was briefer. "Hungover," he said when asked about the feeling after the biggest day in his life. Harbhajan Singh concurred with Upton and added "was up till 8am". Munaf Patel had probably slept the most. "I don't drink. I don't party," he said with his open smile.
MS Dhoni, wearing a new look, having shaved his head (purported reasons varied from "spontaneity" to "religious") was kept busy by the various bigwigs, which included a mixture of politicians, industrialists and administrators. Sharad Pawar, the ICC president, attended the function along with chief executive Haroon Lorgat. The function was also attended by chiefs of other foreign boards: James Sutherland (Australia), Giles Clarke (England), Ernest Hilaire (West Indies) and few members from the Associates and the Affiliates.
The fervent celebrations that erupted immediately after Dhoni had lit up the India skies with the winning six continued through Sunday in Mumbai. Even on regular Sundays the Gateway of India, an iconic outpost which stands opposite the Indian team hotel, is the most-visited spot in the megapolis. Today a few thousand extra came in to get a glimpse of the world champions.
Through the night the fans had jumped, hooped, danced and shrieked "we are the champions, we are the champions". Those chants were again heard on the streets leading form the team hotel to the Governor's house on Sunday. The newspapers had made the people aware of the fact the players were meeting the president. Tourists and locals lined up along Marine Drive, the road which runs along the sea and leads up to Malabar Hill where Raj Bhavan is located.
The whistles and the vuvuzelas kept the tempo alive. Flags waved from the balconies and windows. A few decided to take their own victory bus ride as they hired a double-decker and passed behind the team hotel, hooting and cheering the Indians. Mumbai Indians, the IPL team Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh represent, had put out a giant hoarding to congratulate the team.
The day had started early for the players. They had a photo shoot with the Gateway of India as the backdrop. Tendulkar and Dhoni wore suits, Yuvraj and others were more casual. Every player held the Cup with various poses. Tendulkar later said that he was happy that he had never stopped chasing his dream of winning the World Cup. If anything he made sure he would never give up.
"It was a very emotional moment because I had never dreamt in my wildest of dream that I will be able to see such wonderful moments in my life," he said. "I would like to thank God for giving me such a wonderful day in my life. Whatever hard work as a team we have put in, we have got the fruits of it. Not just we as a team, the entire nation is happy in our win. That is what we wanted to achieve the most."
Tendulkar pointed out that even if winning the World Cup was his ultimate dream his passion for cricket was still very much alive. "I think this would be a proud moment for everyone in our country. We don't get to see such wonderful days everyday, so I think it is a very special day for every Indian," he said. Many agreed, including Mukesh Ambani, the owner of Mumbai Indians, who had walked in along with his wife Nita and socialised with Anjali Tendulkar and Sakshi Dhoni.
The Ambanis had arrived at the same time the Indian players lined up to meet the first lady of India. Ambani made sure he would not obstruct the flow of the things and stepped back, allowing the players to interact with the Indian president freely. "This is an achievement by the Indian team dedicated to the people of India. This is something that will inspire the youth of India," Ambani said.
His wife said when India won the Cup for the first time she was "just 19", but today she was one with the Indian team. "I am so happy team India has done us all proud," Nita Ambani said. Standing by her side, Anjali Tendulkar listened quietly. No amount of requests and pleads would force her to reveal how she felt. Instead, she made sure Dhoni's wife was comfortable, considering Sakshi was still getting used to attend such social evenings.
Kumar Manglam Birla, another noted industrialist, enquired if Gautam Gambhir's parents were present at the ground on Saturday evening. "No, they were not here as I tend to get tense if they come and watch my game. I asked them to stay back home and enjoy the game," he said. Later, Birla's wife told Harbhajan that he was their son's favourite cricketer. Another elderly lady politely asked Harbhajan about the Powerplays and the pressure on bowlers. Harbhajan did not lose the opportunity to point out the bowlers were under the pump more than the batsmen.
Players like Virender Sehwag and Munaf Patel desisted from speaking to the media but youngsters like Virat Kohli and R Ashwin were open about living a dream so early in their lives. Kohli dedicated the win to his late father, who he said always wanted him to play for India.
As the sun set, a cool breeze wafted through and the Mumbai police brass band played the national anthem once again to send off the president. The players got ready to leave. They had to pack to get back home before joining their IPL teams. But for the moment, they had to re-join the party.