One of the major reasons why most of us were looking forward to the India vs Pakistan match this past Saturday was the electric atmosphere that was expected to be generated by 100,000+ passionate Indian fans at the cauldron that is the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
The Bharat Army, along with millions of other Indian fans around the world, proceeded to create a theatre and truly act as the 12th man of the Men in Blue, who responded with a thoroughly clinical performance to extend the proud streak against the arch-rivals.
The entire stadium was swept in a sea of blue, and the sight of a lakh-plus Indians singing the national anthem at the start of the match truly set-up the day beautifully.
A Tsunami of passion amid a sea of blue
As the game progressed, the unrelenting and unapologetic passion and support for the team reached its crescendo as the Bharat Army cheered every dot delivery, rose in sync after every dismissal that the Indian bowlers affected, rallied around their team when there was a partnership, and made the Pakistanis feel the heat the moment they sniffed an opportunity.
The sight of the entire crowd rising to their feet as Jasprit Bumrah dismantled the stumps of Muhammad Rizwan or when Rohit Sharma sent the ball sailing into the stands was hair-raising, as was the moment when the entire stadium sang "Ma Tujhe Salam" in unison.
Skillful Indians showcase their temperament to extend the proud streak
While the Indian fans continued to create an electrifying atmosphere in the stadium, the major reason for that. obviously, was how the Rohit Sharma-led unit performed on the field.
You see, there is a reason why India has never lost to Pakistan in the ODI World Cup and just once in the T20 event. This was again on full show this past Saturday as the Indians just never blinked under pressure.
And, once again, it was their bowlers who set-up the things beautifully against the arch-rivals.
Their performance was once again a reminder that while our batsmen may hog all the glory in the build-up to every Indo-Pak game, it is actually our bowling unit that has helped us construct this proud streak.
From Kapil Dev, Srinath, Prasad, Zaheer, Nehra to Bhuvneshwar and now Bumrah, Siraj, Kuldeep, our bowlers have always out-bowled their Pakistani counterparts at the marquee stage.
Every time, it looked as if India's decision to bowl the first might backfire, one of their bowlers put his hand up to claw the team back into ascendency.
Siraj gets belted around? No problem as he struck back with the wicket of Abdullah Shafique and then Babar Azam. Hardik Pandya gets hit for a boundary? No issues again as he infused some mantra on the ball and induced an outside edge off Imam-ul-Haq.
No swing, no seam movement? No problem, Jasprit Bumrah adjusts his length and others follow suit. Are umpiring decisions not going their way? No problem, we will just knock over the stumps, said Kuldeep and Bumrah.
It was fitting that each bowler finished with 2 wickets apiece, perfectly reflecting the all-round effort.
And amid all this, captain Rohit Sharma acted like a ring-master with absolute perfection as he constantly went for the kill.
And, then, with the bat, he stamped his authority on the World Cup arena for the nth time as he unlocked 'violent poetry' mode to paint the entire stadium with his sumptuous yet belligerent strokeplay amid chants of "Rohit Rohit" among 100,000+.
But, despite his magical blitz, this victory should always be remembered for the performance of our bowlers. In batting-friendly conditions, and in front of a packed stadium, it could have gone horribly wrong for the home team had they not boasted of their precocious skills and incredible game sense.
Another realization after this match is that we need to applaud our players for being able to soak up such immense pressure against Pakistan in World Cups over the years.
Imagine representing your country against a team you're not supposed to lose to, and that too, in front of 100,000+ passionate fans on home soil? Lesser mortals would just wilt under such pressure, however, here was an Indian team embracing all of it, using the fans as its 12th man, egging them on to create a cauldron, and like champions, they thrived on it.
The streak continues to live on, and Saturday's performance was just an apt reflection of the gulf between the two sides, both skill-wise and temperamentally.
Featured Image Credit: The Bharat Army