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Bryan Adams, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Sudhir Kumar’s conch shell: The soundtrack to India’s 2011 World Cup win

As India celebrates the 10th anniversary of its 2011 Cricket World Cup win, memories of the melodies associated with the tournament

April 03, 2021 / 10:38 AM IST
File image: Canadian singer Bryan Adams performing during the opening ceremony for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

File image: Canadian singer Bryan Adams performing during the opening ceremony for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Summer of 2011 started with Summer of 69.

Bryan Adams was among those who performed at the 2011 Cricket World Cup opening ceremony in Dhaka. The Bangabandhu Stadium, where the $30 million spectacle was held, is located in the city’s throbbing Motijheel locality. Right next to the ground is the Baitul Mukarram mosque, the country’s largest.

When faith and sport bring together thousands to the area, as it did on February 17, 2011, it acquires a heady atmosphere.

In the stadium, coloured fireworks blasted off into the sky and dancing laser beams made the buildings around look like concrete clubgoers, Adams sang '18 Till I Die', 'Let’s Make it a Night to Remember' and 'Summer of 69'.

Also high up on the playlist that evening was the World Cup’s official song, 'De Ghuma Ke' by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. It accompanied the entry of the captains of the participating nations. Over the next month and a half, De Ghuma Ke would make a home in some corner of our brains as one of the signature sounds of the tournament.

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A large poster of Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan hung from the nearby Imperial Hotel. “Our guests can have everything except the World Cup,” it said. But on a grey-black surface at the Sher-E-Bangla stadium, India out-batted the hosts. Their upset by Bangladesh at the previous World Cup was avenged. De Ghuma Ke indeed.

From Dhaka, the caravan moved to Bangalore, where India played its next two fixtures. Due to the indulgent schedule, there were long gaps between games. As a result, India were in Bangalore almost three weeks at a stretch.

One musical memory from the Bangalore stretch of the tournament is of a melodious whistle emanating time and again from somewhere in the press box, usually not a place for pleasant auditory experiences. The Pied Piper turned out to be former England captain Michael Atherton. He would walk around, hands in the pockets of his khaki pants, lips in an ‘O’, giving us a free concert. Atherton, covering the tournament as an expert, was partial to 'Conquest of Paradise' by Vangelis, which would be played before the national anthems of competing teams.

Sudhir Kumar – cricket devotee, maniacal, mysterious and intricately painted like actors in mythological plays - was in demand at the World Cup. Someone was making a documentary on him. Fans would take pictures. But he never abandoned his routine. From Bangalore, India moved up north for a game in Delhi, then back down to Chennai. From there was it was Ahmedabad for the quarterfinal against Australia, and Mohali for the semi-final against Pakistan.

At almost every game, Sudhir would meet the team bus when it arrived and blow into his conch shell.

File image: Indian captain MS Dhoni arriving on a rickshaw at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup opening ceremony at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh. File image: Indian captain MS Dhoni arriving on a rickshaw at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup opening ceremony at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Then came the final in Mumbai. The city seemed different, on the edge but in a good way. Cricket fever was in the smog, dust and in the little bit of air Mumbai has. The team was a step away from a trophy that had eluded them for 28 years.

A day before, as the Wankhede Stadium received finishing touches, Akon’s 'Smack That' blared from the stadium system. That’s what India ultimately did to their opponents, Sri Lanka, who for a while threatened to ruin India’s party. Zaheer Khan bowled an excellent opening spell, Dhoni hit the winning runs and made 91. And yes, Gautam Gambhir made 97.
Akshay Sawai
first published: Apr 3, 2021 10:38 am

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