March 31, 2011

The Unforgettable Clash

I deliberately stay away from topics such as cricket, politics etc. because I believe there are much better pundits and gurus out there and we can do without having yet another. But what transpired today has literally forced me to write it here. I would like to capture the moment today.

For the last one week, media especially Indian media has been super-hyping today's Indo-Pak Cricket World Cup Semifinal clash. It was ridiculous the kind of theories that were put forward last few days. Each and every move of the players was being analyzed and deliberately misinterpreted to add spice. And when you have the PM of the Pakistan visiting your country on the invitation of our PM to see the match, it becomes that extra special.

Had to bunk (I like to call it 'miss' since it seems more polite) the afternoon lab and rush home to see the match today. But exactly as I anticipated, there was a big crowd returning home in the searing afternoon.  There was abnormally high amount of rush on the road (for the afternoon) and I could see that everyone was trying to speed up. And there was an insanely high amount of calls and messages being exchanged on the route. The buses were so crowded that I had to miss a few of them and as a result reached home 10 mins after the match started. Everybody and their dog seemed aware of what's gonna happen today. One could sense the tension reaching its boiling point. It was as if pushed a bit more, some volcanoes will erupt.

In the quarterfinals against Aussies, I had an electricity blackout for more than 10 hours, which meant I could only catch up the last 20 overs of Indian innings in that match. I was a little bit worried about that repeating today and there were a few more like me, who were making sure on phone that there was still electricity at home.

For all that was going to happen, I knew one thing for sure; that it was not going to be a dead rubber. It will live up to the hype that was created. And how well it did. And it was kind of predictable too:

Sachin-Viru doing the initial assault. Pakistan coming back from the blue with some smart bowling; but also dropping catches whenever they got an opportunity to do so. India's famed batting not living up to its potential. The fightback from the tail-enders. The explosive start from the Pakistan batsmen, but one wicket after, such an inspired fielding and bowling performance from Indians. Pakistan loosing wickets at the regular intervals, at times that were least expected. Shahid Afridi playing a suicidal stroke. The match not being over until the very end. And the fire crackers at the end.

It was as if it was all scripted. That's classic Indo-Pak key clash for me. If anything that was missing, it was lack of clashes on the field (there were some minor ignorable moments though) and no run-outs (where did you go Inzi :)

It really was a roller coaster ride emotionally. There was euphoria, there was pride, there was hopelessness, there was hopefulness, there was desperation, there was worry, there was prayer, there was fun, there was sadness. Finally India won the match. The last 8-9 hours have now become an integral part of cherished memory section, just like a few more India-Pakistan matches.

What cricket does is that it unites this nation. It even unites families. After a really long time, I spent so much time with my grandfather (watching the match on system through Internet streaming) and dad (watching the match on TV downstairs). I actually had to juggle up and down a few times, so as to spend equal time with both of them. Even the ladies in the family weren't complaining about not seeing daily soap today and were showing interest in the match. And of course, sharing comments with friends, throughout the match made it all the more enjoyable.

Next up is the big final against Sri-Lanka. And that is certainly not going to be easy, because Sri Lanka is one of the most clinical side in this tournament. But I still hope and wish that India wins the cup. That would mean, Sachin will say good bye to the biggest platform on a winning note, I would see India bringing the cup in my lifetime (live). Certainly don't want a repeat of 2003, just like Sri Lankans won't want a repeat of 2007.