Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nostalgia - India Vs Australia, Adelaide 2003

My mind often rewinds back to that day about 11 years back. The year is 2003, month December. It is bitterly cold and I am having a slug-fight as my 1st semester engineering exams are going on. At the very same time, the Indian Cricket team is also undergoing a severe examination of endurance, concentration, physical stamina and mental strength in the middle of a glorious Australian summer Down Under.

I followed the series by waking up at about 4.30 am (talk about cricket fans happily sacrificing sleep) and running to the terrace of my hostel (read walking like zombie's at unearthly hours!!) to listen to the commentary on All India Radio (AIR). My friend Amit would always be by my side as he too was a crazy cricket fan, just like me. Wrapped in jackets and fighting cold winds we would perch ourselves on the hostel parapet and carefully hoist the transistor up at one side near the water pipeline (we had a theory that keeping it near metal bars would result in better reception). We would have a feeling of being in paradise for we would experience heavy fog during the early morning and coupled with the commentary from an Australian tour would only make things better for us. It may sound incredible but in those days our hostel campus did not have a single TV set where we could watch live cricket action. During the college hours my friend would always activate the GPRS on his mobile phone and we would happily follow cricket, on the move and would follow the match by checking the scores on StarSports (I think it was called at that time) by continuously and maniacally refreshing the 'live-commentary' page. If we were lucky enough to get the signal we would catch some commentary by sharing the ear-phone, one each. As we were perennial back-benchers we were never caught.

After India had drawn the first test (which in itself was a rarity and felt almost like a win to us win-depraved-average-die-hard Indian Cricket Fan), we were eagerly looking forward to the battle of the second test. Australia batted first and with Ricky Ponting in imperious form, made an imposing 556. Punter contributed 242 of those. With India at 85/4, a large defeat loomed on the horizon. But we still had hope as the Kolkata-Miracle pair of Dravid and Laxman joined hands. When Laxman finally departed, about 300 runs later, they had performed the miracle once again - this time in Adelaide!!! India had replied with 523.

Australia were bundled out for a meager 196 in the second innings, the highlight being Sachin's twin strikes as Dravid held two marvelous reflex catches at slip to send back Damien Martyn and Aussie captain Steve Waugh. India required 230 to win with about 200 required on the final day, certainly not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

That day, with India poised for a famous win against Australia, we had our Applied Science Exam. The fifth morning of the tantalizingly poised match, we were up earlier than usual and quickly settled on the terrace of our hostel as was our routine during match days. We used to have 4-5 days break in between exams and we would slog after match hours to put in about 10 hours of studies and we believed that we had prepared well enough to at least scrape the exam!! Dravid held fort as wickets fell at regular intervals. Amit and I were lamenting the fact that we would not be able to witness what should be a dream-come-true-moment for every Indian cricket fan. We checked the scores until the final bell rang before the exam when we were required to switch off and submit the mobile phone to the invigilator and occupy our allotted seats. India still needed about 50 runs with 6 wickets standing, more importantly, with Dravid and Laxman at the crease!!!

With heavy hearts, we parted with our cell phone and took our respective exam seats. Generally during exam days, I have always perceived the clock as a villain with its hands zooming ahead but that day even they seemed to move rather slowly almost defying the laws of physics. My attention was divided and every passing minute seemed like hours. Finally, about 130 minutes passed by and we had already scribbled quite a bit. I and Amit exchanged a few quick glances and decided that we can wait no longer. Another 5-10 minutes were spent going through the examination paper and checking our scribbled answers. I gazed around me. Most of the students were busy writing, some were lost in their own world as they had nothing to contribute while some tried to sneak passing looks at the paper of the student seated ahead!!! But we had made up our mind. We got up from our seats and handed over the examination paper to the invigilator. Many students shot curious glances in our direction. Its tough enough to complete an engineering paper in the stipulated 180 minutes and we were submitting our papers well before time (And since it was our 1st year, it was a real struggle to come to terms with engineering papers. It is quite a leap when compared to the 12th or the 10th standard board examinations. Hence the surprise and shock of fellow classmates.)!!

Next thing we knew, we were out of the classroom and excitedly fiddling with Amit's mobile phone! Amit switched on the mobile and it slowly flickered to life almost teasing us. Starsports was then duly opened and with a gleam and a hint of a tear in his eyes, Amit let out a loud scream – We Won!! Yes, Mate.. We Won Down Under! The entire hallway resonated with his voice and a few teachers came running out. Returning back to our senses at what he had just done, we ran for our lives and hi-fied each other while jumping in the air! That incident was real fun!! Engineering hostel life, all of 4 years were filled with many incidents which are deeply ingrained in my mind.

This incident often brings me up to date with the frailties and the single minded dedication of an average Indian Cricket Fan - the lengths that he can traverse to support his team. With meager resources he is willing to put at stake his health, his career and almost everything that he possesses just so that he can derive that joy of watching his team play which may seem insignificant to the world but means the world to him.

1 comment:

Bushra Muzaffar said...

Very interesting and fun post. Reminds me of my college times too....when classes were bunked and the institute's premises were desrted to honour the cricket seasons then :-D