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CRICKET WITH DOUBLE THE FUN


It’s ICC World Cup 2011, and there’s cricket allover.

On Saturday, 26 February, 2011  early morning at 4 a.m. in Mississauga, Canada my Pakistani family wakes up to the clock alarm, very obediently, to watch their homeland  team play the match against Sri Lanka, in Colombo.  I do too but after a couple of hours

And the match was so absorbing that one couldn’t take even a minute away from the screen. The unpredictable that the Pakistani  team is, one had to keep one’s fingers crossed till in  the last two balls, Sri Lanka  needed 13 runs. The victory was almost at their doorstep. But even then anything could happen and change the tide of the match. So it was better to wait till they announce the result formally on the TV. It was a great pleasure that the match went in Pakistan’s favor. And the prayers of  180 million Pakistanis and my  family’s sleep deprivation were well paid off.

Today, Sunday 27 Feb 2011, it was a match between India and England. It was my obligation to favor ‘my’ team too( more so that I had favoured  my husband and kid’s favourite teamPakistan, a day ago),  and watch the match between India and England end to end. However, today on Sunday morning I woke up alone, none of my Pakistani family folks were  all that keen to disturb  their sleep for an Indian match. They joined me later after a few hours.

How the match progressed , was something one can only feel, it cannot be described in few words.

Alas!  after all the high blood pressure spikes and palpatations, it  ended  in a “tie“ –a rare show with  less than 1% of probability  ( there have been 24 tied One Day matches out of 2,900 played since 1971). Every moment watched   from the toss till the end, with undivided focus  was worth the thrill. Those who missed it,  missed the best moments of cricket history.

Then, if my family isn’t so keen on Indian game,  why did I waste my sleep for the previous Pakistan Sri Lanka match? Well it’s simple, because I have decided to love my kid’s homeland as much as mine.
Anomaly in me, perhaps.

Many a serious women of my age group find yet another anomaly in me– to be still so keen on Sports like Cricket or Football or Tennis. Such unfair an attitude, as when their husbands, years older than me watch, it is cool, when I watch it is …..

Who cares? Let me be me.

Let the whole world consider it an anomaly for a person of my middle age and that too a woman, a busy professional, a mom of big kids to be so keen on watching cricketers of my kids age play cricket.

Why should it not be? Sports aren’t just the prerogative of the young or the male gender.

After all, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, World Cup Cricket is the third most important sporting event in the world watched by some 2.25 billion all round the globe.

Yes I do watch players of my kid’s age play football, cricket or tennis, but I watch the sport, not the players. At least not now.

After all there were those glorious days when I too did watch cricket not just for the game, but for cricketers  and sat through Wimbledon Finals patiently, not bothering about the test next day,  if it  were the cool Bjorn Borg or the ever heated John McEnroe playing.

I exactly know what it means  now about what my guy friends used to tell in those student days :

“We watch a game, with pure intentions,  you girls watch with ulterior motives”, dismissing our claims of  being serious fans of the game.

I feel no embarrassment to acknowledge that despite the age, the time , the distance from the homeland and with life’s million worries in the head, I did not get any less interested to watch the World Cup 2011, than it was when I first watched the Cup in 1979. In the early teens and school days, it was not just the cricket but the cricketers too who were the focus of our interest.

Then came the World Cup of 1987, on the home ground when India-Pakistan co hosted. And the love for the game, the cricketers and the knowledge bank of the personal details of the cricketers became even more reinforced.

How wonderful were those days , when we not only knew the statistic details of the hot commodities like Zaheer Abbas, Imran Khan, Ian Botham but also their entire personal bio data, and so also of the cool and cute little master Sunil Gavaskar. The  Test cricket jewel that he was, we stalked not only his record of record breaks but also how he met his wife, what his wife’s name meant and even which song he sang to her, the day he proposed to her.

Gosh! We had so much grey matter to spare after all the studies and exams just round the corner.

True the game isn’t all that spicy anymore for someone of my age, but now one can easily appreciate the nuances  of the ‘pure’ game as well as its details. One can confidently predict the likely result of the third umpire beforehand ,by virtue of one’s knowledge of the details of the game.

If the young girls today still focus on the wrong side of the game—namely the details and the looks of the machos like Dhoni and Afridi, I certainly feel it’s their time. They too will come back to cricket one day like me.

I too am a fan of Dhoni, but never got to understand why girls fall all head over heels for his looks. Such an ordinary name he has , but yes he definitely has some charm and charisma, which is all too evident in the ads he does.

But then who am I to judge them. I should mind my business and like him for his great wicket keeping and the captaincy.

It’s great to enjoy cricket beyond the cricketers! Probably there isn’t much choice either.

Despite all this objectivity of the ‘angel’ in me, the ‘devil ‘or even the ‘human’ in me does pop up at times.

I find it hard to avoid comparison between the players of the two teams- India and Pakistan.

Most difficult to evade is the pathetic difference between the two wicket keepers from the two sides. If one is to be called an equivalent of an ‘arabian horse the other is the worst species of an ass. And I leave for the readers to judge as to who is who.

Though no comparison, but Tendulakar’s consistency is so at par with the inconsistency of Afridi. But whatever it is, Afridi’s charm is his crude, wild style. If he bats with senses, like he did in the few balls he played in the last match, one doesn’t feel it is him.

And then the Rawalpindi Express seems to have come back well ‘serviced ‘ with all the nuts n bolts well tightened.

I wonder why, but I cant help thinking of Afridi when Yuvraj comes  on the screen. Weird though. It’s  hard to figure out any relationship between the two.

Well at least for one thing in common between them are their wild escapades—with one wild ‘on the field’ and the other ‘off the field’—probably it is this key common factor which makes me unnecessarily group both of them together..

Another pleasure to watch and hear were the commentators from the players of our days –Ravi Shastri and Sunny Gavaskar taking me back to the memories of yesteryears.

And the anomalous that I am, for me it is tough to decide which of the two teams India or Pakistan do I favor more. Honest to God, I cannot decide which.

If it comes to choose between them, it is tough the same way as it is for a toddler to answer when asked, “ Is Mummy good or Daddy?”

My kids have grown up from the kindergarten to date, answering in each Cricket Season the lame question:

‘Do your parents fight when it is a India Pakistan match?”

Many a patriots on either sides refuse to except my doctrine of both the teams being ‘mine ‘and label it a rhetoric. Well everyone has a right to hold their own views about themselves, I do too.

Be it a weird one.

And then the same antiquated question, “Who will you favour if the two reach the finals?

And pop comes my age old answer, “The Cup is already ‘home’ for me if the two teams reach to the finals.”

I will watch the match for the sake of the game, but my pangs of losing or winning would be evidently absent.

I  pray that the two teams I call mine would come to the final this year and play each other on April 2, 2011 in Mumbai

What will the next few weeks unfold, one thing is for sure—that I have two teams to cheer for.

Hence, for the ‘special’ me the fun of watching this cricket is twice more than anyone who sides with only one team.

Yes, indeed for me the pleasure is double.

Exponentially double.

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