Country roots for India to lift World Cup
New Delhi: Best wishes poured in from people of different walks of life today for the Indian cricket team to lift the World Cup tomorrow with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi hoping the `Men in Blue` would emerge victorious.
As the nation waited with bated breath to know the outcome of the World Cup final, a car bonanza awaited the Indian players if they beat Sri Lanka with auto major Hyundai Motor promising its yet to be launched Verna sedan to all 11 players.
Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, an avid cricket fan, and Bollywood celebrities also rooted for an Indian win and fervently hoped that batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar will score an unprecedented 100th international century on his home ground in Mumbai.
"Keep it up is all I would say. I hope India wins," Singh said when asked about his message to the Indian cricket team.
Singh, who watched the blockbuster India-Pakistan semi-final clash along with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani, however, will not be travelling to Mumbai to watch the final.
"I will be in Assam then," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Padma awards function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.
"The whole nation joins in wishing the Indian cricket team," he said, adding that he would be watching the game as and when he gets time.
Sonia Gandhi, who was campaigning in Assam, hoped the Indian team would bag the World Cup.
"I congratulate the Indian team for winning the semifinal at Mohali and wish them the best for the final", Gandhi said. Sonia and her son Rahul Gandhi had watched the Mohali match.
"We hope they win and bring the World Cup for us. I wish them all the best", she added.
Scores of youngsters across the country also belted out impromptu songs wishing an Indian victory. Groups like `Indian Ocean` also came out with special compositions.
81-year-old Lata Mangeshkar said, "I am eager to see India winning the cup and if Sachin scores his 100th century on his home ground in the final, it will be icing on the cake. I will pray for that." When asked about the possibility of watching the final at Wankhede stadium, she replied in the negative. An avid cricket fan, Lata had enjoyed the 1983 World Cup final from the galleries at Lords. "I don`t go to stadiums anymore. I will watch the match at home and after that I leave for Pune where I have to attend an award ceremony," she said.
She also declined to predict the outcome of the much awaited match.
"Both the teams are equally good. Cricket is a very unpredictable game and you can`t guess anything about the outcome. I thought Yuvraj will play a big knock in the semifinal but he got out for a duck. So I don`t like to predict anything," Lata said.
Bollywood star Lara Dutta said, the "whole country is rooting for the Indian tam."
"The team has all the ingredients essential for a win in the Final," she said
Another star Suneil Shetty said the Indian team is a "perfect combination and it deserved to win."
"We will be extremely delighted to felicitate the Indian cricket team with the all-new Verna much ahead of its market launch in the country," Hyundai Motor India Managing Director and CEO Hang-Woo Park said in a statement.