Never thought I’d make a blog entry about cricket. But I guess you can’t change what’s in your blood, right?
Cricket is India’s national religion
Don’t get me wrong, I used to love the sport as a kid. Gully cricket,chhat cricket, parking lot cricket, book cricket, garden cricket,maidaan cricket,cricket gear stowed away in the trunk of our car on long family trips wala cricket,having actual fights with gali ke gunde over the cricket pitch wala cricket…you name it, I’ve been there.
But a part of that passion died after the match fixing scandals of 2000. Cricket wasn’t an honest man’s sport anymore. It became something more sinister to me. As the years passed, I started caring lesser and lesser for anything ‘cricketesque’ (bar for Sachin, the white knight of India, who will always be an idol for each and every one of us).
Two World Cups passed, India performed horribly. But come 2011, something changed.
Watching the 2011 Cricket World Cup in Singapore
So before I knew it, I found myself at Boat Quay, at one of the shittiest pubs I’ve ever been in Singapore, drinking some of the shittiest beer I’ve ever drank in my life and shouting my lungs sore for the epic India vs. Pakistan semi-final match. Tables were banged, hands were bruised,beer glasses dropped/karate chopped, high fives were given out to strangers and Pakistan was sent home amidst the incessant shouting and cheering.
Three days later, we were at the same pub, drinking the same shitty beer, watching India vs Sri Lanka for the World Cup finals. The atmosphere was electric.
Each ball was cheered; Every umpire decision met with a roar; Every ‘chuck’ of Malinga with a loud ‘F*** YOU’ and middle fingers raised in the air. But as Sehwag and Sachin fell, a silence descended on the crowd. I was personally very hurt to see Sachin leave his home ground without scoring a century, especially since this was his final World Cup. What a fitting innings that would’ve been.
But this wasn’t the Indian cricket team I used to know back in 2000…the batting order did not fall like a house of cards after Sachin’s departure…
In fact, we had only just begun. The Indian TEAM played as a team should…steadying the pace and inching towards the target. Each run was met with wild cheers and mosh pits were formed outside the pub (which made it totally unsafe to smoke…). Beer glasses were broken and fights broke out (big surprise). Indian flags were hung at places that would make PAP raise their eyebrows. And then, as fate would have it…a six from the captain brought India home in style.
The pub erupted.
India had won the 2011 World Cup. Indian players shed tears of joy. We weren’t there to see them in person, but their emotions were felt by fellow Indians just the same, even in a tiny ass island thousands of miles away.
This victory was for a billion people
It was a victory for a nation that has proved time and again that it will not be held back.
For me though, it was a victory for the man who has inspired billions of people for the past 20 years. We love you Sachin…this one was for you.