So it’s no secret that I simply love sports; in fact I love it more than chocolates. I love it as much as Bengalis love their fish or south Indians love their gold or north Indians love anything that comes as dowry.
And this time of the year, especially this year, it’s like a typical Indian wedding season, as far as sports is concerned. Even before I could fully recover from the French Open, I was hit by the Champions Trophy, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers and now, the mother of all grand slams, The Wimbledon which begins today. And I am not one of those passive followers who go about their daily chores like Delhi men go about molesting women, briefly pausing to check the score on their cellphone/bribe a cop. For me, any game has to be watched LIVE, including the ads, the pre and post-match analyses and of course, the presentation ceremony.
Which brings me to yesterday. Having followed all of India’s convincing victories in the Champions Trophy, I was eagerly waiting for the final between the two top teams in world cricket: Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley. Sorry, replace Warne with Arun Nayyar.
Anyway, I digress. So I had planned my weekend accordingly, so that I was ready in front of my TV (complete with junk food and drinks), sharp at 2:30 p.m., one hour before the match was scheduled to begin. And I sat like that till 8:30 p.m. when it finally began. I kid you not. For six hours, I cursed the rain and cursed the ICC (especially Sourav Ganguly) for not keeping a reserve day. I mean seriously: first you go and keep an important match in Birmingham of all places, where it ALWAYS rains, and then you have the gall to say that there is no reserve day! Are they really dumb or did they just want to avoid playing India because they didn’t want to lose. I know, I know I am acting like a besotted annoying fan from Kolkata, but seriously even I can take only so much of Mamata Banerjee and highlights: that too after already watching ALL the matches live.
But when it did begin, it was a treat indeed. One moment I was abusing Ishant Sharma and Dhoni, and the next moment I was blaming everybody for match fixing, but as soon as Morgan and Bopara committed suicide, I was looking at Ishant, ready to smother him with a hug, forgiving him of his past sins and his long hair. And there it was, the moment of glory: even at 1:40 in the morning, I was wide awake, my eyes lovingly caressing the trophy. I remembered the last time I was this happy, way back in 2011, when India won the World Cup and we were on the roads at 3 a.m. Somehow, this was more special: for one, this was in England, against the home team under terrible conditions. But more importantly, this was a different Indian team: a young team without superstars (read Tendulkar), without egos and without any baggage. There were no larger-than-life individuals, no cold wars and no politics: these were simple college boys enjoying themselves, who were mature enough to rise to the occasion, but naïve enough to show their emotions.
For all of us born after the 1983 World Cup, we haven’t seen much of success, as India was mostly relegated to the 4th/5th position of the ICC rankings, marred by controversies and regarded more for its superstars than for its ability to win consistently, especially abroad. But in the last few years, things have changed gradually. What began with the T20 World Cup, we have now won every major tournament, beaten the best at their backyard and proved to the world that we no longer rely on individual excellence.
And all under my dedicated, single-minded and determined focus backed by sheer hard work.
For Dhoni, the next milestone is probably 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. But what about me?