We are proud to emulate ’83 heroes: Zaheer

April 3, 2011

India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan on Sunday said that he and his teammates were happy to emulate the heroics of the 1983 World Cup winning team by lifting the title in cricket’s showpiece event on Saturday.

“It’s just an amazing thing to realise what the 1983 team experienced. We were kids then and used to look at it mostly. How special they made it and we are proud to have repeated the feat of 1983 (team),” said the left-arm pace bowler.

The triumphant squad attended a reception given in their honour by President Pratibha Patil at the Raj Bhavan.

The 33-year-old Shrirampur-born bowler described the title triumph in front of packed 33,000 crowd at Wankhede Stadium as special.

“It was a special moment and it was a special day. To make history was in our hand. We supported each other and stayed united as a team,” he said.

“All the families were there in the dressing room. They were taking photos with the Cup. It was a great atmosphere in the dressing room,” he added.

The leading wicket taker in the tournament along with Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said the entire team wanted to win the World Cup for Sachin Tendulkar.

“We are very happy. We wanted to gift him the World Cup. The entire country was with us together,” he said.

Tendulkar dedicated the victory to the billion-strong people of the country and said he had been dreaming about it since childhood.

“This is the greatest moment. Not only me but all the countrymen because such days don’t come often and hence its importance increases. (Have been) dreaming about it since my childhood. This World Cup is for the entire nation,” the batting maestro said.

Tendulkar, who was carried around on the shoulders by a few Indian players for a lap of honour around the stadium at the end of the momentous victory last night, said he was very touched by it all.

“It was a very emotional moment. Never imagined in my wildest dreams that God will show me such a day. God has been very very kind to us (team). Whatever hard work we did, we got the fruits. Not only us, but the entire country is smiling with us,” he said.

Asked about the post-match celebration by the team, the champion batsman said it was an unforgettable day of his life.

“It was a good celebration, the way it should have been. I will not forget the day for the rest of my life,” he said.

Tendulkar said the team’s progress was not without hiccups but the important thing was the players remained united and overcame them.

“There were some obstacles but we stuck together and overcame these obstacles,” he said.

Tendulkar said he was still enjoying the game and had the passion to continue.

“Even wanting to achieve World Cup (victory) one has to enjoy cricket and have that passion. And that passion is still there in me. So I’ll continue to enjoy. That’s what brings the best out of me and I’ll continue to do that,” he said.

Asked about not scoring his 100th international century in his home city Mumbai, Tendulkar said it was not about the landmark but the team’s triumph.

“It’s not about 100 tons but about winning the World Cup. It means a lot to play the final in Mumbai. We decided to go out and enjoy the moment.

“We were all very emotional and tears also came as in my mind I have been chasing the dream for 22 years,” he remarked.

Young Virat Kohli was amazed by the fact that six months ago he was not sure whether he would be part of the World Cup squad and now he has emerged as one of the key members of the team.

“Six months ago I never thought I would play in the World Cup. Now I have played in all the matches and have made important contributions. Can’t ask for anything more,” he said.

Lifting Tendulkar on his shoulders for the lap of honour was a very special occasion for him, said Kohli

“Everyone was emotional. Obviously Sachin was very emotional. Lifting him on my shoulders was very special. This was for someone who has dedicated 21 years for Indian cricket and we are very proud of his achievements.

“Sachin himself was very emotional about. It means the world to me. I have grown up seeing him on TV and to carry him on my shoulders was special,” he said.

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