Monday, October 3, 2011

A Cricket Lover's Biography - 1

For the first time I’m trying a biography. For starters, it would not resemble anything close to "Controversially Yours". Now, doesn’t it give you a confidence to try me? Come on!!! Give me a shot. I guarantee not to bug you.

4 Runs required of 1 Ball. Chetan Sharma bowls to Javed Mianded and Mianded clobbers the delivery to midwicket stands. India loses to Pakistan in the Finals of Sharjah Cup.

It was the era Satellite TV hadn’t penetrated India. In fact, most part of Southern Tamil Nadu, Television still a luxury than need. Luckily, we owned a Black & White EC TV. Once a while, Doordarshan broadcasts cricket matches, this is the first time I’m watching one. A batsman, after defending the ball stops it with gloves, immediately turns back and walks to pavilion smiling.

“What happened? Who is this guy?”

“Mohinder Amarnath. He handled the ball” replies my brother.

So, Mohinder Amarnath is the first cricketer introduced to me. I don’t understand what happened nor did I want to know any further.

Back then, if you own a Color TV you can be very proud of yourself for that is good as owning a car today. Is that a bad analogy? Don’t mind. Let’s move on. I’m now watching another cricket match in one of the residence in our street that had Color TV. All along I’ve been assuming Cricket Match is played in dirt sand. You can excuse my innocence, for that’s the feeling I get watching in our B&W TV. So here I’m, pleasantly surprised to see Cricket played in lush green outfield. At this time, I should say, I immediately fell in love with the game. It triggered my curiosity to know the nuances and the stars involved.

Slowly learnt about Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar, Kiran More, Sixer Sidhu (in 1987 World Cup Sidhu hit 29 sixes) the icons of the team then. My brother introduced Srikanth and Azhar as the most fearsome batsmen of the side. Outside India I’m told Ambrose, Gooch, Boon, Dean Jones, Javed Mianded as the most dangerous players. I started watching cricket matches here and there.

By this World Cup, I should say I’m mostly acquainted with the rules of the sport. Huge technology innovations, games played D/N, cameras everywhere from stumps to towers, third umpires, by all means a very attractive event of those times. The only setback being games started very early in the morning. Though I could not catch all the action, memories from the event still flash green.

With a lot of new faces, India took on England under the captaincy of Mohammad Azharuddin in the opening encounter. Though the match hung in balance most of the time, India finally bite the dust 9 runs short, despite Subroto Banerjee’s late order heroics. If that was a painful begin the loss to Australia by 1 run hurt me even more. Though I cannot recall the whole game, there is one incident that is nailed hard in my reminiscences. Ajay Jadeja runs from deep dives in front to take a stunner. On the other hand, New Zealand set the tournament on fire with Mark Greatbatch’s blazing start. India too tried the tactics by opening with Kapil Dev and Srikanth but failed. It was also the first time; Deepak Patel a spin bowler opened the bowling in Cricket.

Though India was not doing any great in the tournament, the win over Pakistan brought lots of cheers. Javed Mianded jumping up and down teasing Kiran More was the highlight of the match and still a popular video in YouTube.

Earlier, I had mentioned about some of the dangerous names of the game. But, if I were to name a dangerous team, it would be the Rainbow Nation. After 20 years of suspension from International Cricket to Apartheid policies, South Africa returned to play this World Cup. Their ploys were daring and surprised everyone. The picture of Jonty Rhodes flying to run out Inzamam Ul Haq hogged the headlines of national daily with the phrase “Is that Bird or Plane?” Such a sound portfolio South Africa lost to England in the Semi Finals on Duckworth Lewis. 22 runs from 18 balls, the equation quickly changed to 22 runs from 1 ball after the rain intervention. Despite the unfair exit, they won hearts of million fans.

On the other hand, a youthful Pakistan marched into the Finals after crucifying New Zealand in the Semi. I liked the Pakistan players very much as many of them reminded Bollywood heroes. While Inzamam ruled with the bat, Akram the Sultan of Swing uprooted the stumps of Lamb and Lewis in successive deliveries to win the Cup. Moment I saw Imran Khan lifting the beautiful trophy, a sense of anxiety prevailed in me. Will India win the World Cup?

Though India and West Indies went unnoticed in this tournament, a little dynamite exploded from each camp to seek everyone’s attention.  

Sachin Tendulkar & Brian Lara!!!

So, having followed the World Cup faithfully, my brother failed 9th grade. As a result Cricket was banned at our home. Here and there I sneak few cricket matches. One such series that I followed discreetly is “The Hero Cup”.

To be continued…


(expecting to publish one post week every monday)


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