Celebration time

aIn 2011, I decided to encourage the Indian team at an ODI in London.
Last Updated : 01 March 2013, 06:24 IST
Last Updated : 01 March 2013, 06:24 IST

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With IPL round the corner, my mind boggles at the amount these youngsters earn for a few weeks of fun and frolic on the field. There was a time when I too imagined that both my sons would laugh all the way to the bank playing cricket.

Plus, keep my wife and I in the lap of luxury. With this thought in mind, I enrolled them in a cricket coaching camp run by a well-known national cricketer. At the venue, there were hundreds of parents with a similar objective.

The conservative mindset of an Indian middle-class parent meant that my sons had to pay more attention to academics and a career in industry to make a decent living.
The nearest my family came to international cricket fame was a couple of years ago when my younger son playing club cricket in Surrey, was out LBW to a doosra from Saqlain Mushtaq.

Watching cricket from the mango-people stands in the UK is great fun. In 2011, I decided to encourage the Indian team at an ODI in London.

On match day, it was like being outside the Chinnaswamy stadium instead of the underground station at the Oval. The Indian tri-colour was visible everywhere, either as a flag or a painting on the face. Everyone seemed to be praying for an Indian victory, to wipe out the memory of the Test whitewash. But it was the same old story.

Many of the ticket-holders had not even made their way into the stadium when two wickets fell. The crowd realised that the match itself need not occupy much of their attention. Spectators transferred their energies to having fun and clapped for every run scored. When India was 58 for 5 the only worrying point was on how to spend the rest of the evening if the match got over so early.

By now it did not matter whether you were from Tumkur, Nairobi or Southall. An Indian was an Indian. The most popular song in the stadium was ‘yeh dosti...’ from Sholay. Two rows ahead of me was a guy who, presumably, had his own catering business (or his wife overestimated his appetite). He first took out a large tiffin box full of samosa and aloo bonda.

Sometime later it was boxes of chicken kalmi kebab. Just when we thought that was the end of the repast, this chap conjured up packets of huge aloo paranthas. He then entreated his guests to return the tiffin boxes as he had promised his wife he would bring them back safe and sound.

A Chinese couple walked into our stand. To confirm that Hindi-Chini bhai bhai was still alive, the man was persuaded to wear the Indian ODI T-shirt. By now the happenings in the middle were incidental. Fermented barley beverage was being consumed by the barrels. Every now and then the crowd cheered when an English wicket fell. But by then spectators had reached a point of no concern.

There were not too many takers for the presentation ceremony. After all who wanted to hear the Indian captain giving explanations for the loss. They had already heard it five times before on the tour. But we Indians live on hope. We have beaten the Aussies now. The past is history.

Published 01 March 2013, 06:24 IST

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