Image Source : INDIA TV Indian stalwarts Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

T20 World Cup 2024 final: Rohit Sharma is at extra-covers, Hardik charges in to bowl the final ball of the match with nine runs to defend. He goes full, no errors with the front foot or with the line and Anrich Nortje gets only one run. India are the champions of the world. Rohit falls onto the ground as soon as the ball is hit towards Arshdeep Singh at deep mid-wicket.

Rohit does not wait for the ball to be collected. He already has, for 17 years, for a World Cup win. Hardik the man, who was an enemy in India a month ago, is on the ground with tears in his eyes. Rohit is flat on the Kengsington Oval turf, and hits the ground with his hands, venting out all the agony he had last year in the ODI set-up. 

He punches the ground one by one as if to take it out all at once. The other Indian members race onto the ground knowing they have become the champions of the world after 13 years. Virat has his hands up in the sky, looking above with closed eyes, thanking the almighty for this day. He is now the only player with the U19 World Cup, ODI World Cup, Champions Trophy and T20 World Cup.

“God is great. Just the occasion, now or never kind of situation,” Kohli says after in the post-match talk. But before he has had to manage the overflowing emotions and tears. Kohli meets his teammates, the Indians are all over the ground celebrating. 

As they head back to the dressing room, Kohli meets Rohit, the two icons of Indian cricket. Rohit is already teary-eyed. He hugs Kohli. The two have loads of emotions flowing. They are having tears and smiles at the same time. Rohit folds his hands, and thanks the fans with teary eyes. They know what they have achieved. But not everyone did knew this was the last T20I for both of them. 

The players are talking to the broadcaster, as customary after a World Cup win, but this is not customary for these players. They have had to wait 11 years for an ICC title, 13 for a World Cup title and 17 for a T20 crown to do this. They might have forgotten what it feels like to celebrate this way. 

For the last 10 years, they have been reaching the ICC finals of every event barring one in 2021. They have come within one or two shots of a title but those shots took 11 years to fire.

They were called the modern chokers by many for not being able to get over the line when needed the most. The stats backed these things. Under Rohit, India lost only three matches in ICC events and all three were the knockouts – the T20 World Cup 2022, the WTC Final 2023 and the ODI World Cup 2023. He has 22 wins now under his belt in ICC events, the sweetest is the Saturday one in Barbados.

The time came for the presentations, and Kohli announces this was his last T20 game for India. “This was my last T20 World Cup, this is exactly what we wanted to achieve. One day you feel like you can’t get a run and this happens, God is great. Just the occasion, now or never kind of situation. This was my last T20 game playing for India. We wanted to lift that cup. [if he is confirming if this was his last T20I] Yes I have, this was an open secret,” he said to the broadcaster. Later in the press conference, Rohit brought down the curtains to his T20I career too.

“This was my last game as well. No better time to say goodbye. I wanted this (trophy) badly. It’s very hard to put in words,” Rohit said in the conference. A fairytale farewell, not very common in Indian cricket. Ask Rahul Dravid if you don’t know. For all the work he did for 16 years, he never had a World Cup in his hand. He now has one.

Cricket comes full circle for him in his final International game as India’s head coach as he leaves the post for someone else to take it. Take it from where he left off and probably take it to a higher level. Dravid is handed the trophy, he yells out as if the vocal cords would burst. 

Very Un-Dravid this. The only time we might have seen him in this mood was in an advertisement, where he says “Indiranagar ka Gunda hu mai.” But this was different. This was raw. 

Dravid yells and lifts the World Cup which he could never have as a player. It took 28 years since his debut in 1996 that he got his hands to a senior World Cup title as a coach. It is his moment. It is Rohit’s moment. It is Virat’s moment. It is Hardik’s moment. It is Bumrah’s moment. It is India’s moment. And let them soak it up.