Saturday, April 2, 2011

My tryst with Cricket World Cup

Let me start by saying that I am not a real cricket fan.

Definition of a real cricket fan:

1. Rattles off cricket statistics with the ease that would put Wikipedia to shame

2. Never misses ANY cricket matches or at least any International and IPL matches (Ranji ones can be given a miss)

3. Has no qualms about leaving office bang in the middle of working hours to go home to watch a match (I had a Business Director when I first started my career in advertising in Bombay who did just that)

4. Nothing can get his eyes off the telly unless it’s a life or death situation (sometimes not even then)

5. Talking, sneezing, laughing, commenting- any type of behaviour that distracts from the match is severely frowned upon

6. Not watching a match just because India is not playing tantamount to blasphemy

Well you get my drift...and I am sure you know many, many real cricket fans. Think it’s pretty much 90% of the Indian male population.

So yes I am not a real cricket fan, but I grew up with 3 brothers and in the age of single TV unit household and Doordarshan’s channel monopoly. So whenever there was a cricket match, I had 2 options- watch it or do something other than watching TV. (Option to go watch the TV in my room, came only much later in life). So whether I liked it or not, I ended up watching cricket. And hearing my brothers scream and yell and jump and curse and yes rattle of inane cricket stats that just made me wonder how they retain so much useless info in their little heads. (And this is coming from someone whose 80% of brain capacity is filled with Hindi movie trivia).

There is just something about cricket that you get caught up in the enthusiasm and start behaving like a maniac fan too. Problem with me is that I get immensely superstitious too. And nothing brings out that crazy behaviour than an India-Pakistan match. At the recent India-Pak match the other night, I was conscious on which seat I sit, how often I sip my wine and after every wicket I took a spoonful of the tiramisu prepared by my sister-in-law. And Sanil and I had to do the customary victory kiss. Not to mention I spent half an hour desperately trying to color code my outfit. My friends evilly pointed out that the churidaar was reddish and not orange, but I call it taking creative liberties. And we won! So all that worked.

Walking down the World Cup memory lane...

My first World Cup memories are of Kapil Dev’s lifting the trophy in 1983. I still remember the pathetic 183 all out score against West Indies. And the fabulous comeback from our bowlers (Kapil Dev of course, Mohindar Amarnath- also the Man of the Match and Madan Lal) completing of one the most stunning upsets in cricket history and defeating the previously invincible West Indies. I was 9 years old then. Side bar- my other early memory of Kapil is “Pamolive da jawab nahi”. Kapil Dev ji- aap ka jawab nahin!

Flash forward 9 years ahead...1992...and yes I know Pakistan won that year’s title.

Some trivia thanks to Wikipedia- The 1992 World Cup was the first to feature coloured player clothing, white cricket balls and black sightscreens with a number of matches being played under floodlight. Innovations that have been increasingly used in One Day Internationals since World Series Cricket introduced them in the late 1970s, but they were not a feature of the first four World Cup matches. And it was also the first World Cup to include the South Africa national cricket team, which had been allowed to re-join the International Cricket Council as a Test-playing nation after the end of apartheid.

Okie...back to my memory of the 1992 world cup. It was (as it usually is) related to the India-Pakistan match. India did not even make it to the semi-finals, but at group stage defeated Pakistan by 43 runs. Tendulkar was the top scorer with an unbeaten 54 runs. Chasing a victory target of 217, India bowled Pakistan out for 173 while still having 2 overs to go.

And boy were there fireworks! I was 18 years old then remember going out for a drive at midnight with my friend Unnati to absorb the celebrations on the streets. People dancing, bursting fire crackers and being on a Pak-defeat high.

Since then India has defeated Pakistan in every world Cup match- a statistic that is well known to every Indian no matter whether you are a real cricket fan or not. It happened in 1996 quarter finals in Bangalore where India scored 287 and beat Pakistan by 39 runs. Again in 1999- and I won’t bore you with more statistics.

And then came the 2003 World Cup. The most memorable one of all for me! I was pregnant then. And I recorded it in my baby diary that if India won the World Cup I would name my baby boy Sachin.


Come 1 March 2003, the day of THE match- and also the day I was flying from Singapore to Bombay as I wanted to deliver my baby in India so I could share the joy with my whole family.

My flight was at night, so I could only watch part of the match. We were chasing a target of 274, and I left home when India had started batting. There were not many (any?) smart phones then, so minute-by-minute updates were not possible, and I remember standing in the line waiting to board the plane 7 and half months pregnant and the aunty in front of me was on her phone and yelled “Sachin out ho gaya!”.

OMG! Everyone’s heart just sank and as we sat in the plane we had to switch off our phones. So for the next 4 hours and 45 minutes we did not know the fate of the match. As the plane landed in amchi mumbai the pilot made his ‘welcome to mumbai airport’ announcement, followed with “And for all Indian cricket fans flying with us today, India beat Pakistan in the match”. All passengers roared with excitement! The enthusiasm was simply fabulous! Sachin made 98 and was declared the Man of the Match. But sadly, India lost the finals to Australia on 24th March and my baby boy came into the world almost exactly one month later to be named Sanil and not Sachin.

It’s been 28 years and 6 World Cups since our one and only World Cup has been a long wait for us all. But the longest one has undoubtedly been for our hero Sachin Tendulkar. Despite being peerless for more than two decades, the sport’s most successful batsman with a record of 99 centuries has been eluded of a World Cup win.

As he seeks his 100th international century and his first ever World Cup victory, India prays. And India hopes. But most importantly, India believes (damn the UK bookies!).

Sachin simply can’t be denied this. Even the Gods have to realize this.

Today as we battle Sri Lanka in our home ground (Sachin and mine), I pray for resilience, courage and patience for Sachin and all our team players. We are sending our prayers, well wishes and all the positive energy we can possibly garner, your way.

Victory will follow. Just play the game you play boys. Just play the game you play.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog... I also have kept a separate page in my blog " Tryst for all die hard cricket fans". The same is being updated regularly. I hope you may like the page and other contents in the same. I invite you to visit the same.
    Thanks Sudesh DJV