The greatest moment for any sports fan is when the team and the players they support perform at the peak of their powers in unison. To see not one or two, but the entire team perform at a level so insane that even the detractors are left in awe is the stuff of dreams for any fan.
These are once-in-a-lifetime moments. During the last 8 years, Indian fans have been living a similar dream; a dream they never thought would turn into a reality, a dream of seeing their fast bowling unit create theatre as they run in, an atmosphere of hostility and an air of inevitability about them.
So, as Team India completed their demolition job of Sri Lanka in front of a packed and bouncing Wankhede, it was fitting that their fast-bowling trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj were the lead orchestrators in helping the home side secure the ticket for the semi-final.
When Wankhede bounced to the beat of the Indian pacers
It's very difficult to truly express yourself when your wildest hopes have just transformed into reality. The eyes automatically light up, and the jaw drops, but the right words just never quite come out . So, in that instant, you just shout in utmost euphoria, chanting the name of your beloved athletes.
As the Indian pace trio continued to unleash hell on the helpless Sri Lankan batsman, the fans would have experienced a similar sort of emotion; a sense of awe on their face, goosebumps on their skin, and if they're of a certain vintage, then a tear in their eyes.
It's certainly not for the first time as the Indian pacers have made a habit of it across formats in the last decade, but the beauty about this attack is that it hits differently every time the bowlers finetune their performance to beast mode.
This World Cup feels like an epic celebration of the revolution of the Indian pace attack, and Friday's performance against Sri Lanka felt like yet another power-packed highlight reel, with the lead singers (our pacers) bringing down the roof on a bouncing Wankhede with their violent yet cinematic notes, and The Bharat Army and thousands of fans serving as background vocalists.
As always, it was Jasprit Bumrah, who set the tone with a delivery that, frankly, felt unfair to the batsman. It pitched on middle and leg and seemed wickedly to turn the right-hander Pathum Nissanka into an S.
The crowd found its voice, and it only got louder with every passing thunderbolt that the pacers went on to deliver. It felt like proper cinema with the lead artist in his elements, and the background artists making him/her look even more beautiful by creating a theatre.
Mohammed Siraj's love affair with Lanka continued. He first dismissed opener Dimuth Karunaratne with yet another peach of a delivery; one that pitched on a very fullish length, but yet straightened even to leave the southpaw plumb in front.
Indian Pacers in World Cup 2023:
45 wickets in 7 matches @ 18.57/4.87; 2 4s & 2 5s
From then on, it was just a masterclass by each of the pacers as they used the seam, and the angles to perfection to leave everyone gob smacked and wanting more. Siraj used the angles well to entice a loose shot from Sadeera Samarawickrama, before dismantling the off-stump of Kusal Mendis with yet another dream delivery from the wide of the crease angle.
The beauty of this Indian attack is that even if you survive the likes of Bumrah, and Siraj, in comes serial-wicket-hunter, Mohammed Shami.
Shami, with his beautiful seam position and immaculate control over his line and length, was hungry for more wickets, and he did not take much time to get into the act to snare yet another 5-wicket-haul and become the all-time leading wicket-taker for India in World Cup cricket.
Eden Gardens: Where SA's Destructive Batting Will Collide With India's Irresistible Pace Battery
All streets will lead to the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon when the most complete attack of this competition will face the most destructive batting-unit in the form of South Africa.
After having dismantled every opposition that has come their way in this World Cup, the trio of Bumrah-Siraj-Shami will look to stamp their authority against a ruthless juggernaut that is the Proteas batting.
With Haridk Pandya no longer available for selection in this World Cup, India will continue to play with just 5 bowlers, and so, the onus will be on the pacers to set the ball rolling like they have so far.
Oh and of course, its King Kohli's 35th birthday today, and after a heartbreak in Mumbai, where he fell 12 runs short of the historic 49th ton, the champion batsman will be even more motivated to put on a show as he opens the 35th chapter of his glorious life.
The Eden Gardens stadium will bleed blue on Sunday with the hope that the famed paced attack and birthday boy Kohli will be on top form once again.
Featured Image Credit: BCCI