Friday, 12 July 2019

The Cricket World Cups Of Our Lives


* * *

23rd March, 2003

We didn't have cable TV at home. It had always been deemed a 'distraction' towards our academic performance. However, as luck would have it, my granddad, a devout cricket fan, had decided to visit us a couple of months earlier and my father had to, grudgingly, get Doordarshan Sports so that my granddad could track India's tour of New Zealand in 2002-03.

That was the first time I watched a game of cricket. I cannot remember the first time I played it, as it was much earlier. I had been playing cricket before I even knew what the game was, who played it and whether I was any good at it. 

I had watched Sachin Tendulkar in advertisements, but not on the field. 

But now, I was watching it. Something about Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan stood out to me in that series, even at that age, and I decided to worship them. 

My granddad left soon after that tour, but DD Sports did not. I had at my disposal a newfound cricket watching interest, two deified heroes in Sehwag and Zaheer and a functional sports channel. Suddenly, I was in with the times - the advertisements with Sachin and Ganguly made sense, the news reports made sense and the adult chatter made sense.

The advent of DD Sports into my house had somehow altered the zeitgeist. I was sold.

So amidst this hullabaloo to a highly impressionable mind, it all began. It began with a Brian Lara and Lance Klusener special. This sport was throwing greatness at me, one match at a time. It began with India vs. Netherlands, and with it the first Sachin straight drive that will remain eternally indelible. 

It began with running home from school to check the scores. It began with protracted, desperate arguments with my parents for the day-night games, as they went well past our bedtime.

Once, I went to bed (disgruntled naturally) hoping that the English batsmen would show mercy to my team. 

I woke up to the ballads of a certain Ashish Nehra, and his miraculous 6 for 23. We mimicked his airplane celebration for years when we played.

I woke up to a Sourav Ganguly heist against Kenya. Thankfully, (since it was a day game) I was wide awake for Mohammed Kaif's heroics against New Zealand.

Then, the hype. India and Australia were bound to meet in the finals - surely, no one expected Kenya and Sri Lanka to defeat these behemoths? The Times Of Oman, in a bid to stand out from the crowd, ran a headline along the lines of 'Forget Australia vs. India, what about Sri Lanka vs. Kenya?'

I guess it was destined to be. Against Kenya once again, Ganguly unleashed a barrage of sixes over midwicket, and there was a new threat to the Indian quest to the finals: rain. The clouds threatened to wash out Ganguly's efforts, and India would have to come back for a fresh start. India switched to spin options pretty quickly into the Kenyan innings, with Harbhajan, Sachin, Sehwag and Yuvraj all rushing through their overs at Ganguly's frenzied gestures. He had one eye on the clouds, one eye on the D/L (now DLS) score, and two hands frantically urging his bowlers to get to their mark quicker.

I went to sleep after India had satisfied the D/L quota of overs.

Sehwag, meanwhile, was having a bad World Cup. His mother was being interviewed on national news. She was describing the meticulousness of her prayers, and her motherly instinct told her that Sehwag would score big in the final.

On 23rd March, during our morning school prayer I decided to include an additional plea for my Indian cricket team. I was too young to calculate the importance of my little hurried wish; too young to be aware of the deluge of prayers that would emanate from India that day. The obliviousness of youth made me believe that, somewhere out there in Oman, one little kid's prayer would change destiny.  

I was restless in school. I was convulsing with excitement during the bus ride back home. I might have leapt out before the door was fully open and hared across to my building. I might have jammed the elevator buttons and paced around, urging it to go up faster. I might have rushed past my mother at the door, flung my schoolbag aside and switched on the TV, remote trembling in my hands.

I switched on to a disaster. 

Ricky Ponting had grabbed my little dreams and crushed them with alarming brutality.

He was a tornado; Australia, a dynasty. Every shot was like a whip crack, every boundary gesture was like a slap and every fist-bump was a puncture to my bubble of optimism. I was just sinking deeper, and deeper, and deeper.

But, we had Sachin. So we waited, clinging to our battered strands of hope. I watched Sachin and Sehwag walk out, and I had goosebumps. It was time to right the wrongs. Pay back the misery and the trauma in style. It would be the ultimate underdog story.

Sachin hit a boundary and then skied a pull. The ball hung in the air longer than normal. 

It came crashing down with our hopes.

So I did the only thing I knew. I switched off the TV and went down to play.

Sachin Tendulkar dismissed by Glenn McGrath, India vs Australia 2003 Cricket World Cup Final

This was the only antidote that came to my mind, the only escape mechanism. At the age of 9, going down to play was a panacea. My mother came down for a walk at some point to inform us that Sehwag had finally come good, but India hadn't. I didn't want this bargain. It was raining, and we were hoping for the match to be called off. The same rain gods I was against a match before were the ones I looked up to that day.

But alas, when I finally trudged back home, Sehwag was trudging back as well, having just been run out.  The match was back on, and so were my miseries. But a young mind is fairly optimistic, and even at 9 down when Ashish Nehra hit two consecutive boundaries I envisioned him scoring a brisk century to engender the upset of the millennium.

The chimera was shattered by Darren Lehmann. For months after that match, I would replay India vs. Australia on EA Sports cricket games on my PC, trying to avenge that match. Trying to wash away those memories. But I never could.

I was scarred.

I just didn't know it then. I was too young to know it.

* * *

23rd March, 2007

By 2007, I was once again alienated from cricket. Sports channels in my house had long disappeared, and this time no relative could bring them back. Indian cricket was in tatters with Greg Chappell blatantly chaperoning us off a cliff. Sehwag was struggling, on the brink of being dropped.

Somehow, I had managed to convince my parents to let me watch the World Cup at a neighbour's house. I shouldn't have. India crumbled to Bangladesh that day. Despite that, I went back the next match to watch a Dwayne Leverock dive and Sehwag special.

Bangladesh upsets India in 2007 Cricket World Cup

That India would crash out was never a conceivable notion. But as they collapsed to a Sri Lankan charge, it was foolish to assume otherwise. I went to bed that night in the middle of the match. Somewhere, on some floor in my building, a Sri Lankan family had organised a watch party. Their deafening cheers and music signalled the fall of every Indian wicket.

I heard them all, lying in the dark in bed, exactly four years from the day Ricky Ponting was relentless in his mauling. Tossing and turning, trying to sleep it all away. I wondered what life would be like in 2011. I would be in Grade 11, a shuddering prospect. 

At some point in that darkness, the loudest cheer broke out followed by unending music and I knew the deed was done. I don't know at what point I dozed off, drifting away from my misery as the Sri Lankans celebrated the night away.

* * *

2nd April, 2011

By 2011, cricket was a defining personality trait. 

My bedroom walls were peppered with posters of cricketers, wrestlers and rappers. Sports channels were still non-existent in my house, but these were the rebellious teenage years of torrents and illegal streams. 

By now, I was already a pseudo-cricket analyst. On Facebook groups, online forums, Cricinfo comments and school bus discussions. The social media age was truly upon us, and it accentuated the scrutiny, hype and criticism. I was starting to comprehend the true magnitude of humanity.

Despite my cricket fanaticism, I was, like any other teenager, extremely busy. A 17-year old often deems it offensive to sit a full day at home, and so did I. I caught snippets of matches whenever I could. I caught the ending of the India-Australia quarter-final outside a restaurant in Karama, gazing through the window display at the TV screens. As Yuvraj Singh roared into the skies, so did all the visitors at the restaurant. 

I caught the ending of India vs. Pakistan at another restaurant in Karama, this time inside it (thankfully). We ran outside at the dismissal of Misbah-ul-Haq and danced away to the music of our phones. 

The stage was set for a moment in history. Sachin Tendulkar, one knock away from a hundred international 100s, due to play his last World Cup final at his home ground in Bombay to win the coveted trophy that had eluded him his entire career. 

You couldn't have written a better script. Someone out there had planned it all out, detail upon detail, to create a story that would last the ages. 

Lasith Malinga tore it into pieces. 

Life isn't a movie, or maybe we were watching Sri Lanka's movie, I mused as Sachin dragged himself back to the pavilion in deafening silence at the Wankhede. Thankfully, Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni decided to interrupt the Sri Lankan cinema reel and create their own, and we inched closer to a dream.

As Mahendra Singh Dhoni launched Nuwan Kulasekara into the sky, time once again stood still. It had been eight years since I watched a ball just hang in the air, defying gravity and bending time. The room erupted around me with shrieks, laughter and sobs. The scene at the corners of my eyes was a blur, as friends jumped, hugged and celebrated. 

But I just stood there, transfixed to the screen. For a rare moment, thoughtless, speechless and motionless.

MS Dhoni Hits A Six and India wins the 2011 Cricket World Cup Final Against Sri Lanka

What is it about sport? 

It is, after all, an imagined reality. Every form of sport can be fragmented into mindless running, pointless chasing of something worthless and conforming to rules that represent no tangible barriers. What is cricket if not a silly 'hit-ball-with-stick', football just a 'kick-ball' or basketball a 'throw-ball' game that holds no tangible value?

What is it then? What about sport drives us?

If it is just another silly little game, then it cannot explain why we ran - ran with no purpose and destination on the streets of Bur Dubai on a sultry night in April. It didn't matter who we were, where we came from or what we were doing. We just ran, and ran, until we couldn't run anymore. Some of us screaming our hearts out, others laughing and others weeping.

It cannot explain why all around us, people swarmed out of the concrete jungle, draped in flags, tooting horns and smeared with face paint. Why did cars block all the streets, with absolutely no intention of going anywhere, honking to the beats of the dhol being played in every corner?

No one had scheduled a mass congregation after the World Cup final. No invitations, no event pages, no flyers or announcements for a street after-party. Yet, here we were, denizens of the same soil, swarming in revelry. We were hugging strangers, dancing, singing and chanting. We were climbing on cars, hanging off Jeeps driven by unknowns. We escaped for a night, and it seemed the night wouldn't end ever. Schools, universities, offices and daily routines be damned. Alarm clocks and early mornings be damned.

This was our night, and we would decide when, and if, it would end.

What is it about sport? What is it that got us all together that night - living, breathing, singing, dancing as one? 

If it is just another silly little game, then how did it, for one night, unify a nation?

* * *

26th March, 2015

The Sydney Cricket Ground was ready for a spectacle. I was hunched over my laptop screen, in the middle of the night. It was a cold, typically rainy British night and I was pulling an all-nighter to watch the match scheduled in broad daylight in Australia.

But another skied shot to an Australian pacer, and it seemed 2003 was back to haunt me. Another ball that hung in the air, this time from the blade of Virat Kohli, not Sachin. Delivered by Mitchell Johnson, not Glenn McGrath.

Virat Kohli ambled back to a silenced crowd, and I had another scar. 

By now cricket was a peripheral part of me. I was playing club cricket in picturesque college grounds that populated the meadows of Cambridgeshire. I was a part-time glorified pseudo-cricket analyst at SportsKeeda

Yet, I was lost.

For the first time, I couldn't foresee my life by the next World Cup. It was easier while I was in educational institutions. Easy to predict my 4-year increments in school or university years. But in 2019, I would (hopefully) be a young professional, aged a daunting 25 years old. I had no idea where I would be, what I would be doing and even who I would turn out to be.

My reliable metric of measuring life by World Cups was starting to crumble, and my future was in darkness.

Mitchell Johnson Dismisses Virat Kohli in 2015 Cricket World Cup Semi-Final

* * *

July 2019

Amidst this darkness, I now reach out to you, my reader.

I've always casually measured my life with cricket World Cups. I've always tried to imagine my life, age, status and circumstance by the next event.

In 2003, the first one I remember watching at the age of nine, I tried to imagine myself in 2007. I would then be 13 years old, a big number to my 9-year-old mind. Probably in 7th grade ('probably' as I wasn't optimistic about my middle school grades) - what would life be like at the age of 13? Would I have too much homework? Would I be more serious, more studious and less playful?

In 2007, I laughed at the thought of my nine-year-old worries. At the same time, I shuddered to think of 2011. While my questions and their answers changed with every World Cup, one fact that was apparent, in fact inevitable, was that my childhood was disappearing.

In 2015, I was left stranded in my prognosis. Life became impossible to predict from thereon. Of course, if you are reading this piece today, then it means I have made it in living colour to 2019. But this pattern of unknown, of darkness, has now clung to World Cups.

Where would I be in 2023? What would I be doing? Would I be married? Kids? All shuddering prospects, but they are unavoidable. 

Yet, as I have done every single time, four years later I would look back and smile at the worries of my younger self. But would I smile at the memories itself? What would I remember July 2019 by?

I cannot help but create a lifelong memory this World Cup - it is an unavoidable circumstance at this point. Such is my love for the game, my history with it and its attachment to my life story.

I cannot choose to not have this eternal memory. It is now up to the players, luck and maybe destiny to decide whether this memory would be a good one, or whether I would etch another scar into this life story.

Whether I would go to bed that night reliving the horrors of my childhood, or dancing, singing, hugging and chanting with my people, for one night only, lost in oblivion and unified once again. 

*

10th July 2019


Naturally, I wrote that ending before the events of Tuesday and Wednesday. I guess I must leave it to 2023, when I would indeed be 29, and lost in this impenetrably dark abyss that is my future. 

For now, however, I add another scar.

* * *

If you liked what you have just read, please do consider spreading the love and sharing this on social media platforms of your choice. Additionally, also consider liking this blog on Facebook, following it on Twitter, following me personally on Twitter or upvoting this post on Reddit. We're all artists in our own way, and this is my art that would truly find expression if more people got a chance to read it.

If reading isn't your thing (and assuming you stuck around to skim to the end), then you can listen to me dissect cricket with Anurag Ram Chandran at the latest episode of the Millennial Musings Podcast here.

Similar articles:

Why I Feel Virat Kohli, And Not Sachin Tendulkar, Is Indian Cricket's Biggest Inspiration: Read More

Why I Stopped Loving Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Read More

India At Rio Olympics 2016: No Country For Non-Cricketers: Read More

66 comments:

  1. The parallel between your life events and cricket world cup was interesting to read. I was expecting just another cricket analysis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IEEE Final Year projects Project Centers in India are consistently sought after. Final Year Students Projects take a shot at them to improve their aptitudes, while specialists like the enjoyment in interfering with innovation. For experts, it's an alternate ball game through and through. Smaller than expected IEEE Final Year project centers ground for all fragments of CSE & IT engineers hoping to assemble. Final Year Projects for CSE It gives you tips and rules that is progressively critical to consider while choosing any final year project point.

      JavaScript Online Training in India

      JavaScript Training in India

      The Angular Training covers a wide range of topics including Components, Angular Directives, Angular Services, Pipes, security fundamentals, Routing, and Angular programmability. The new Angular TRaining will lay the foundation you need to specialise in Single Page Application developer. Angular Training

      Delete
  2. I was able to relate to my life especially the 2003 and 2007 world cups! Thanks:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You made various good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will have the same opinion with your blog. eT20s

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a result, we can't wait for things to get done. We just don't have time to waste. And this is one of the biggest reasons that T20 has gained so much popularity.Knights versus dublin match today

    ReplyDelete
  5. Many authors have written at length about them and in many ways,토토 the principles and factors are universal.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great article Lot's of information to Read...Great Man Keep Posting and update to People..Thanks Live cricket scores

    ReplyDelete
  7. This post brought back so many memories. Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Ganguly and Sehwag are the world-class players. Let's not forget, Virat is now the King. T10 Cricket Schedule

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work ICC Cricket World Cup

    ReplyDelete
  9. The most reliable places to bet on the Toto site are called "Safety Playground" and "Safety Park." We share all Toto sites in real-time verification thoroughly after the introduction and guidance for the user Never to play as a verification site for Toto Sites 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks For sharing this Superb article.I use this Article to show my assignment in college.it is useful For me Great Work. Cricket news

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank for sharing such a nice article its very informative
    Sportszilla

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just as there are major sites on the Toto betting site and major sites on the casino betting site, there are also major sites on the bustabit social graph game site for graph games. 그래프사이트

    ReplyDelete
  13. Over all I would portray Flamingos as a breaking course which will in general be a little on the expensive side however on the off chance that you need to treat yourself you won't be disillusioned. A Masters or Championship course of things to come I will bet.
    Presidents Cup 2019 Live Stream

    ReplyDelete
  14. The fame of golf lies most with the English talking portions of the globe. Passing by the quantity of greens, Scotland stands high. Golf for some isn't a take a break; it is their life itself.
    Presidents Cup 2019 Live Stream

    ReplyDelete
  15. be a defender of class, and afterward having the option to contribute with bowling, and you left thinking about whether there is anything in cricket that he couldn't do and that is the thing that makes him the best all round cricketer and the best cricketer of all. Et20slam

    ReplyDelete
  16. Despite the efforts of the Federal Government to curtail or eliminate sports betting and gambling on the Internet, Billions of dollars are being wagered each year through the internet as well as legal land based casino's, sport books and the illegal sport betting bookies throughout the world.토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nowadays viewers from all around the world may obtain a total list of options to watch Presidents Cup 2019 Live
    .You may visit presidentscupgolfinfo.com site where you can find important information.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Many feel that the term 'gentleman's game' is a misnomer for cricket.http://www.zambiacricket.org/

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love this blog!! The flash up the top is awesome!!
    website

    ReplyDelete
  20. I read that Post and got it fine and informative. Please share more like that... PSL Zambia

    ReplyDelete
  21. There is definately a great deal to know about this subject. I like all of the points you've made. PSL Zambia

    ReplyDelete
  22. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. বাংলাদেশ ক্রিকেট

    ReplyDelete
  23. Here you can find the latest updates and the updated schedule, news, fixtures, and the other teams and squad information.
    Pakistan super league is the biggest event that will be happening in february 2020 in pakistan. Sportszilla provides you
    the latest information about the psl 2020 teams squad the captains names, and the other points tables and the other players
    category list.
    .

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great blog. All posts have something to learn. Your work is very good and i appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts Online Gambling

    ReplyDelete
  25. The game keeps going around 3.5 hours. The run of the mill cricket coordinate has 100 overs, which sets aside significantly more effort to finish. Along these lines, this is the thing that makes T20 a perfect game. psl 2020 schedule and teams

    ReplyDelete
  26. This painted glass window was made in the thirteenth century. Different understandings state that this round of golf was a challenge between rivals with one assaulting and one protecting. masters golf 2020 live stream

    ReplyDelete
  27. There are many sports betting people out there who make a very nice return on their investment through sports wagering. There are certain sports betting systems that will make the process easier and allow you to enjoy the experience more. 메이저놀이터

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free.
    토토

    ReplyDelete
  29. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. Thank you so much.
    ข่าวฟุตบอล

    ReplyDelete
  30. In this time of false love, the creator has formed each word with everything that is in him filled it.
    แทงบอลสเต็ป 2 คู่

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much. You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people.. buy instagram likes paypal 50

    ReplyDelete
  32. T20 World Cup 2020 posponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic and it is now shifted to Octber-Novermber 2021.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi, it is my pleasure to read this article. It is very useful and interesting and I look forward to reading more of your work. cricket fans

    ReplyDelete
  34. I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website. SAGAME66

    ReplyDelete

  35. Excellent post. I was reviewing this blog continuously, and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information especially this page. Thank you and good luck. 토토

    ReplyDelete
  36. Your article has proven useful to me. It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content. Oblivion Crash on Startup

    ReplyDelete
  37. Know your league's cutoff times. One of the leagues that I am in has an exchange cutoff time that has just passed. You may need to make a major exchange late the season. Yet, after the cutoff time has passed, you are left with your group. Recognize what your league's cutoff times are, and make the arrangements at the proper time. https://www.thichbongda.com/bong-da-phap

    ReplyDelete
  38. Placing genuine cash into cricket is really assisting with proliferating cricket, they state. https://tonysportstrainingequipment.com/dallas-cowboys-sports-merchandise/

    ReplyDelete
  39. Watch UFC 254 Online Free. Do visit us for UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje Live Stream PPV Fight Online TV Broadcast. UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje Live
    UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje Live

    ReplyDelete
  40. Straight bets are better than parlays. Sure, parlay bets offer the chance to win a lot of money for a small bet, but straight bets will be your consistent winner over time. Everyone plays parlays, but don't make them the focus of your sports betting activity. https://www.sharepresentation.com/BK8Asia/types-online-casino-games

    ReplyDelete
  41. This carries us to the last specialized factor that impact top execution in sports - making least mistakes.แทงบอลออนไลน์UFABET

    ReplyDelete
  42. All the time in schools, the playing seasons for some, sports start very quickly when the school year begins. UFABET

    ReplyDelete
  43. A QUIET PLACE PART II Full Movie
    Watch A QUIET PLACE PART II Full Movie
    A QUIET PLACE PART II 2020
    Watch A QUIET PLACE PART II Online
    Watch A QUIET PLACE PART II Full Movie Free
    https://aquietplacepart2fullmovie.xyz

    ReplyDelete
  44. No Time to Die Full Movie
    Watch No Time to Die Full Movie
    Watch No Time to Die Online
    Watch No Time to Die Online Free
    https://notimetodie2021fullmovie.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. Morbius Full Movie
    Watch Morbius Full Movie
    Watch Morbius Online Free
    Watch Morbius Full Movie Free
    Morbius Full Movie Online
    https://morbiusfullmovie.xyz

    ReplyDelete
  46. Raya and the Last Dragon Full Movie
    Watch Raya and the Last Dragon Full Movie
    Watch Raya and the Last Dragon Online
    Watch Raya and the Last Dragon Full Movie Free
    https://rayaandthelastdragonfullmovie.xyz

    ReplyDelete
  47. The get-together of sports information, including insights and sports patterns, is anything but a simple work and requires broad exploration. slot online

    ReplyDelete
  48. By realizing their objective market and their sports saint, a sports brand organization can accomplish something beyond notoriety and acknowledgment. spbo.pro

    ReplyDelete
  49. Turning into a decent or master poker player is another matter.situs judi slot

    ReplyDelete
  50. Have you bought your cricket bat and cannot wait to use it? It is advisable that you curb your temptation to take it out and have a crack without first seasoning it. Seasoning a bat is very important and essential if you want it to last. ipl schedule 2021

    ReplyDelete
  51. The creator adds that this content hence investigates effective issues in sports organization and the board, harping on hypotheses and standards of present day patterns in sports organization and the executives like authority, association, arranging, inspiration, and so forth Kiff Slots Podcast

    ReplyDelete
  52. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon! buy csgo account

    ReplyDelete
  53. Really enjoyed this article post. Really looking forward to read more. Will read on... best cricket betting app in India

    ReplyDelete
  54. Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place. zopiclone 3.75 pil

    ReplyDelete
  55. one year what it would require 100 years or more to accomplish with most different ventures. sbobet login

    ReplyDelete
  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete