I knew that today’s semi final between India and Pakistan was a big game, but I never imagined how big!
It had all the makings of a big game. It was between the traditional rivals, India & Pakistan. The Master Blaster has been in great form thru this tournament and it was expected that he would make his 100th century in the International cricket during this game.
At individual level, people started preparing for the game immediately after India won against Australia in the quarter finals. Many people in our office started asking me whether the office would declare a half day leave on 30th. If not that, could we at least arrange a a TV in the office. etc. Most people who were very keen on watching the match took either a full day or a half day leave. I even heard about a young fan in another office who resigned from his job because his leave for today was not sanctioned by his boss.
Sometime back, I had written a post on Cricket Mania that has engulfed the nation, today was even bigger.
Today morning, all the newspapers had nothing other than the match. When I started for work, the roads were much less crowded than usual. In the office, the work proceeded as usual till the lunch time. Once the match started, most people were monitoring the game on the internet. Everyone knew that India had chosen to bat and Sehvag was going great guns.
Around 4.30 a friend from Vashi offered that I could visit him at his home to watch the match. By then Sachin had completed his half century and it looked really certain that he would make the 100th century. I really didn’t want to miss it if it happened. There were no matters at office that had to be dealt with immediately, so I took the invitation and went to watch the match.
Alas, Sachin didn’t get his century and the India team folded up in 260 runs in their innings. With a determined opponent like Pakistan, the possibility of losing the game looked very very real. So at the end of India’s innings, I decided to go home and watch the remaining game there.
I covered the distance from Vashi to Bandra, which normally takes about 45 minutes, in just about 20 minutes. The roads were completely deserted.
As the Pakistan inning started, I got so involved in the game that my mood was affected by every ball bowled, every run made and every wicket taken. As the pendulum of victory started swinging between two sides, I was swinging between hope and despair. I would have never imagined I would get so involved in the game. I am still trying to figure out what got over me? It was not just love for the cricket, frankly I am not much of a fan of the game. Is it patriotism? Is it a proxy war against Pakistan? Can’t really make out. And even though I was cheering for India, when the young Umar Akmal got out and returned to the pavilion, almost in tears, my heart really went out for him.
And so, in the penultimate ball of the match, Pakistan lost their last wicket and the whole nation, at least my entire neighbourhood, erupted. The sky was full of fireworks and the air was thick with the smoke and sound of crackers. Some enthusiastic people came out with a big stereo loaded on a tempo and started playing patriotic and national integration songs on it at full blast. And soon a crowd of about 250-300 people gathered and started dancing to the tunes of these songs. As I am writing this, the celebration continues. The genre of the songs has changed, but the enthusiasm of the dancers has increased. The crowd is growing and liquid refreshments are flowing freely.
I am now waiting to see the final in Mumbai and the victory celebration after that!