Friday, March 10, 2006

10 years after a cricket match.

I just read Michael's cricket match review, of the India-Pakistan match in the '96 world cup. (cricinfo Link). It was in Bangalore - at the Chinnaswamy Stadium - and I was in Surathkal. (Add in "bahut naa-insaafi hai" somewhere here)

So I decided to hop over, a nights bus journey away, and Dad had got us four tickets - he was a member of KSCA which got him a few tickets in those days. The stadium's walking distance from my house, and this was a day-night fixture, so we left home at around 11, figuring we'll get there early. And we had to do the "packing".

You weren't allowed to take anything in there. I mean no cigarettes, or matches, or anything that could be used as a weapon. So we had to "pack" - cigarettes went into socks, matches into other locations that were unfriskable. When we got in, it was the most inefficient frisking ever. We could've smuggled in anything short of a nuclear missile. The guard would run his hands over your back and stop just before the derriere, and let you go. What kind of idiot would smuggle anything on his BACK?

Anyhow, getting in was ok, and getting to seats was fine. The stadium has rickety plastic chairs but we intended to be standing most of the time, mostly on the chairs. So after a long time of running around to get pepsi (which at the time was the choice of a new generation) and watching Prasad and Srinath practice a bit of bowling, we were itching for the real game.

And one helluva game it was. India won the toss, and decided to bat. Tendulkar and Sidhu came out to open, and got on with it. Not at a pace we were expecting but they were doggedly moving along, around 5 an over. Now that's a good pace, but not enough for a crowd to go ballistic, so what we did was choose to entertain ourselves with Javed Miandad.

Miandad was fielding where we were - which was third man and mid-on in alternate overs. He'd field quite close to the rope, and consequently, our stand. And we would incessantly niggle him, loudly and clearly, about his fielding quality, his growing too old, and that he should run faster, but how can he because he's so old. Lots of name calling happened, including references to female members of immediate family, and Miandad did turn and give us all menacing looks - yeah, we were mean little bastards, all of us. (See Segue)

At 40 overs we were 200 or so and then something happened. I don't know what but there was a flash of light and the earth caved in and Sita disappeared. Or it seemed like that because suddenly our batsmen showed major jigar. We hit around 70 runs in the last eight overs I think, pretty standard nowadays, but only getting known then with the likes of Jayasuriya. Jadeja hit some 22 runs in one Waqar Younis over, and that was so-ooo--ooo cool to watch. We ended up making 287 and I was one happy bloke. We were hungry but too busy celebrating to step out of the stand to the food area. I would later regret that.

You know when they call them fast bowlers? They *are* fast. I'm not saying relatively fast like Prasad vs. Younis. I'm saying fast in general, so fast that if you're in a frikking stadium you're not going to see the ball. You hear something when the batsman hits the ball and then you look at the entire 360 degree area around him hoping to see some fielder move - that is approximately where the ball has gone. In TV, you see it crystal clear, a round white very visible object. From a stand it's about as visible as a mosquito. Now imagine that mosquito moving at 130 kms per hour.

So when the Pak bowlers came on, Latif (Pak's wicketkeeper) was so far back we were going "What's he going to do, wait for the ball to stop and then pick it up?". And Younis's first delivery kinda answered that. If I was the wicketkeeper I would choose to stand in the adjacent parking lot instead.

But I digress.

The Indian team was now on the field, and then first 10 overs were a bloody nightmare. Sohail and Anwar just thulped us all over the place and the crowd was silent. We were silent. We, the tormentors of Miandad, the ever-enthu, effervescent bubbly stand were wondering what serial was on TV tonight.

Anwar got out, but Sohail carried on the (bad) work. Then it happened - Sohail hits Prasad for a four, and points to the boundary - as if to say, "watch that, the ball belongs there". This pissed us off. Because a) Prasad is a local lad, and b) Sohail is a pakistani (bad word). So kannada gaalis were flying all over the place, and people were so angry they could have killed Javed Miandad. Don't ask why.

The very next ball, Prasad did two things.
a) He bowled out Sohail with a neat incutting delivery, knocking out off stump.
b) He pointed Sohail to the player's stand, as if to say "Watch that, YOU belong there.".
The crowd went wild.

Then Pakistan never recovered. They kept trying, kept losing wickets, and even a partial cameo by Latif couldn't get 'em close. We were ecstatic. And when we won, the only bad thing in our mind was that we hadn't bowled them all out. They made 248 in 49 (an over cut for bowling too slow) and we took the spoils. What a match.

Walking back was amazing too - it was around 11 PM I think, but people were everywhere. Running, jumping, flag-waving, car-honking, "India Zindabad" screaming people. And there was this poor set of muslim cap wearing people in a car that were forced to stop, and say "India Zindabad" three times before they were let go. They were visibly scared, but did repeat it, and went on their way. They could've been Pakistani visitors and we gave 'em shabby treatment. We should reserve that only for Miandad.

But great match overall. The intensity, the crowd, the feeling of a good win: I'll cherish that forever.

(Segue) I think I have hated Miandad since he hit that last ball six off Chetan Sharma. I was 12 at the time and it deeply influenced me to hate Miandad for the rest of my life. The fact that his son is now married to a Dawood daughter just puts that hatred in stone.

I think all of us in that stand felt that we were responsible, in some way, for Miandad's pathetic performance in that match, and his subsequent retirement. If we hadn't heckled him, he would have been in better mental shape to beat the crap out of our bowlers. I'm sure he looked at mid-on and cringed during his batting, and then got hopelessly run out. My little part in a very very big victory. (End Segue)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...yeah, we were mean little bastards,....." Is that a reference to your age or some physical quality. Haha.

3:11 PM, March 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're very brave.

5:26 PM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger Cosmic Voices said...

You reminded me of my first one-dayer.. of course the one i watched, not played. I too was baffled why the keeper almost near the ropes..TV is truly an illusion

9:21 PM, March 21, 2006  

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