Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It's the World Cup All Over Again

A Special Guest Post from my friend Narsimha Sarma Veturi who writes beautiful stories at his space - Neither Here Nor There and is an ardent cricket fan. We do regularly chat about cricket on Indiblogger especially about how India are doing. In this post Narsimha turns back the clock and tells us his Favorite World Cup Moments starting from 1992.


The first time I saw Cricket live on TV, was also the first time I saw The Cricket World Cup, which was also the first time I saw Sachin Tendulkar bat. Though, he didn’t score much on that day, he was a star already and I saw an expectation being built up steadily within my family members as Ravi Shastri blocked forever, before he came in. I don’t remember much else from that Benson and Hedges Edition, except the two enduring images of Ajay Jadeja’s magnificent catch to dismiss Allan Border in the same match, and that of the South Africans losing their semifinal in dubious circumstances. I thought that there was something illegal happening behind the scenes that let the chase remodeled from 22 off 13 balls, to 22 off 1 ball.

The Wills World Cup 1996 was when the Cricket Fever truly caught up with me, as I watched the whole tournament live on Television. Sachin Tendulkar was a great hero by then, and he lived up to all the hype being the face, and the rest of the body as well, of the Indian Campaign. The best match, however, was, as usual, was against Pakistan. There are a lot of highlights of this match that I can remember till date, right from Siddhu’s classy knock, to Jadeja’s destruction of WaqarYounis. The Venkatesh Prasad sendoff to Aamir Sohail is still a popular Youtube classic. However, nothing prepared me for the heartbreak of the Kolkata Semifinal. Azhar won the toss and put Sri Lanka in, a decision which even he thought he regretted. Having seen off India’s prime tormentors in the league game, Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana in the first over, I thought it would be a cake walk for us. Even the target of 258 was something I thought Sachin would help India achieve, until he got stumped off Jayasuriya for 65, which remains painful and haunting till date. The rest is a piece of history, I can never forget, nor I would want to particularly recall, suffice to say that I cried into the night, hugging my pillow, making it wet with my tears, before falling asleep, eventually.

1999 World Cup was a kind of mixed bag, where our chances were forever impacted by our narrow loss to Zimbabwe, which continues to haunt me whenever I think of that particular campaign in England. Owing to summer holidays, and travelling to marriages, I could not catch much of the action live. We had a couple of good wins against England and Pakistan, not to forget the demolition of Sri Lanka. The best match was against England. The tournament rules had it that the rain affected games, will be continued as they were, next day. England were in a comfortable position after some 20 odd overs chasing a modest total when the rain interrupted. The next day, when the match resumed, Srinath got Thorpe LBW, and England crumbled under pressure. Still, a largely forgettable campaign for us, as we didn’t compete well in the Super Sixes, except, against Pakistan. The most enduring image will be the end of the greatest ODI ever, which earned the chokers tag to the South Africans in their Semi Final against Australia. It can’t be scripted better.

The 2003 edition was a largely successful campaign for us, except for the final,especially after the disastrous tour to NZ days before the World Cup. Being a bit more pragmatic at that time, I could see that Australians were the clear favorites. A side story worth mentioning, was that Sourav won the toss on the day and put the Aussies in on a flat track, a regrettable decision, much like the one Azhar made against the Lankans in 1996, both of the matches ended in a defeat for us. Another side story was that Mohammad Kaif’s house was pelted with stones by angry mob after India’s defeat to Australia in the league stage, and it was heartening to see India comeback in an emphatic fashion, being undefeated against any other team they faced. Sachin Tendulkar scored a mountain of runs again, and still the hopes depended on him for the major part of the series. It didn’t help for the excitement of the campaign that India had to face Kenya in the Semis, which I felt was not worth a contest on such a big stage. The best match of the 2003 World Cup, for us, was again, against Pakistan. I don’t think any words would justify the excitement felt by the Indians after that match. Stephen Fleming’s classy, match winning knock of 134* against South Africa in a rain curtailed game, and Bevan and Bichel’s jailbreak against England were also extremely fascinating to watch.

The 2007 World Cup hosted by the West Indies, was a disaster for India and for ICC as well, as the edition turned out to be poorly managed and poorly attended. If India’s loss to Bangladesh in their opening match was painful to sit through, the collapse against Sri Lanka was every bit taxing on the Indian Fan. I saw the match against Sri Lanka on a giant screen, specially brought by our college for the match, and I vowed never to watch a WC match on a giant screen again. I haven’t followed the rest of the World Cup much, so I don’t remember much about it, except that Australia won it, and they deserved it, exactly like the previous 2 editions.

2 years ago, my friends and their families met for a re-union of sorts, and as part of a game, everyone revealed their best moments in their life. When my turn came, I said that 2nd April 2011, when India won the World Cup with Sachin Tendulkar in the playing XI, contributing throughout the tournament in India’s success, was the best moment of my life, and I still maintain it. It is a culmination of a journey that started in 1992, and a Cricketing Nirvana for me. I saw every match live, cheered for every boundary scored and wicket taken, cheered louder at South Africa’s exit in the QF, because I thought they will definitely have given us a harder time. I shudder to think of what might have happened if we didn't win 2011 World Cup.

So, the 2015 World Cup for, is like trying to fall in love with it all over again, since the 2011 edition fulfilled me beyond my expectations. The wait for it, the journey to it, my own growth as a person, all contributed in making that event a memorable one. I don’t know if the current edition would make me as excited as I was for the past ones. I’m older now and I think I spent all my energy on the final hurrah of 2011. I will watch all the matches, because the tournament still holds a lot of importance for ODI Cricket, of which I’m definitely a fan, but I don’t think I would take a loss as bad as I did in 1996. I’m expecting a Semifinal berth for India, which is a realistic expectation to begin with, but I probably won’t sulk as much if India underwhelms me.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for share this nice and informative article i like after read thanks and keep it up..