February, 2001. I was in my Tenth standard. Second revision, English paper I. I was asked to write a summary on India’s famous victory at the Lord’s. Titled “The Cup of Joy” with a skyblue sketch pen the synopsis was for about ten pages in contrast to the original lesson which ran for only three. It was one of the most satisfying moments in the school life, When I came out of the exam hall.
Ten days later my English teacher distributed the answer papers in the classroom. I was given 6 on 10 for that essay. Three full pages were ripped off diagonally. Dejected. In the next few minutes, I was in the staff room.
‘What’s this?’ he asked , “The four West indies greats : Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall” I answered.
‘Not even mentioned in the book’
‘So what? They played’ was the reply.
I was such a maniac in school days.
It all started with that Wills World Cup 1996. I was 12. The first time I was watching Sachin with big annas. He was going after Ravindra Pushpakumara.That 137!! Few days later on March 9 1996, I saw the entire village happy when we beat Pakistan. Crackers and Chocos. Joined the celebration just for that. Rude shock to see my cousin bad mouthing for the first time, seconds after the Aamir - Prasad incidence. He warned me not to tell at home. I didn’t.
Just 3 days later there was complete chaos in front of that Panchayat Televsion set. Few people were in tears. No sweets. No crackers. Eerie silence prevailed in my place. Many blamed Azhar on fielding first on such a track. This is just a game right? I was puzzled. Kicking a small plastic ball all the way , I returned home, empty handed. Done with the Cricket virus.Suffering till date.
Over the next two years I fell in love with Sachin Tendulkar. And after the sand storm innings at Sharjah I turned a Sachin adorer.
1999 World Cup. My Grandfather joined hands with Ramesh Tendulkar. A day after we saw India succumbing to the minnows. Henry Olonga. Sonavabitch. Cricinfo predicted the match result beforehand. India - If Tendulkar comes back. Zimbabwe - If not. The worst thing happened. 23rd May, 1999 Bristol. Tendulkar played the innings of his lifetime against Kenya within 48 hours after his father’s funeral. The last ball was hit effortlessly over the midwicket for a six. Tendlya, the MoM was seen in tears. That day I claimed myself a Sachin Worshipper.
Super six exit. Frustrated I said amma, “ India has never won a world cup after I was born. Probably they will win one only if I die”. She replied with something I will never forget in my life. A tight, royal slap.
March 1st 2003, Centurion. India Vs Goddamn Pakistan. March 3 was D-day. My twelfth board exams started then. With my Tamil book in hands I watched the match from pitch report to prize distribution. One of the finest bowling attack was ruthlessly raped. India Won. Hours later, I got back to my studies. Next to 'Silapathikaaram' or ‘ Nedunalvaadai’ , I scribbled , "Pakistan b***hes were defeated tonight. Thanks to Sachin & Dravid". Grand Finale. Sourav won a toss and went for chasing in a first bat track. Again. 340. Yet another WC loss.
2007. The best Indian WC squad they said. Paper tigers and you very well remember the debacle. 17th March , PSG Tech’s Men’s hostel day. Lowest decibels ever recorded in all those four years. 23rd March vs SL it went for a all time low.Tendulkar was out for a 0. People conveniently forgot a decade and a half. Bloody greedy Indians.Disappointed. A black day.
I kept on saying Sachin's best was yet to come.Friends blurted out with laughter. "Wwwhat ? 2011 World cup? He should be with his walking stick then. Go and get a life", people commented. What we saw was a brand new Tendlukar post 2008. Two glorious years of cricket studded with record numbers. 175, 200, 50th, 30000.
2011 campaign started off with a bang! Two inhumane tons against England and Proteas. Running across India for my second innings in life, witnessed them at Bengaluru and Mumbai in that order.
A high voltage QF game against Aussie happened with a heavy dose of Chivas regal and Signature at a friend's place. I know India had won before I collapsed. Next day’s Hindu announced Raina’s Six off Lee. Oh! Well!.
Next the mother of all battles . March 30th , 2011.The Battle of Mohali. Financial year and this stupid assy company didn’t let me go out till 9PM. India made 260. Pakistan known for pressure mishandling, Chasing under the lights, big stage , and a mad mad 50000 people booing, something said me its not gonna be easy for the beloved foes. Last few overs in my single room with a bit of Glenfiddich. We won. World cup is just a match away for our God. Yayyy…
April 2nd , Tendulkar was all set to play the most important match of his 22 year old career. NDTV flashed , “ Today, Sachin has his date with the destiny”. We friends and seniors looked upon quite a few options. Sathyam screen, Wine & dine at mayajaal etc. Finally settled with a typical bachelor’s apartment.
Match started armed with a dozen bottle of Beers, Pepsis and Cokes ,Lays and Kurkures and a Yamaha player. Zak bowled a dream spell. Asusual, Sreesanth was just a Facepalm . 274 at the end. Disappointment. Everybody wore a long face.
Then those two dismissals. Heart broken as everyone knows what is Indian batting line up after Sachin’s dismissal. Just an Orgasm. Won’t last longer. "Stop! Stop! This is whole new Indian cricket. Come out of the 90’s" someone said. I had to drag myself out as Gauti and Virat were building that partnership. Many of us came up with all new swear words. Tamil and English. Unheard and innovative. Dilshan’s was the worstest.
Dhoni the Xavier. Before the ball landed into the crowd, we all went mad. A perfect scene of a lunatic asylum. Shouts, Swears, Smiles and hugs. Sense of relief.
When Harsha started off with that trade mark smile we were already on the roads. FMs screaming the Indian victory and playing situational songs. “Worldu cuppa jeyikka poram, Podhuvaaga em manasu thanagam, oru poattiyinnu vandhu vita Singam, Ella pugazhum iraivan oruvanukke …”
Besant nagar @ 12AM. Wild celebration was already on. Half of them were ecstatic and the other half drunk. Every rich car owner was stopped and asked to come out for a celebration. Koyya dance and Vadivel type hip shaking were common. Rhythmic screaming of “Saaaaaaaachin… Sach chin… Saaaaaaaachin… Sach chin…”. 10000 walas, Sweets, Smiling faces. The happiness quotient of India was at its fcuking best.
The best part of the celebration was a little girl with a tricolor flag on her father’s shoulder who was spotted on the top of a Sumo. The ‘Knowledgeable Chennai Crowd’ roared and immediately surrounded the vehicle and cheered up the cutie. What a moment!!
The celebration ended in the wee hours of Sunday. Every single joint aching. Crashed down. The next two days were spent on reading every single article on the web, friends’ FB updates, hundreds of tweets. Weren’t quite enough.
There were quite a few questions from people. Will Sachin call it a day? Will he hang his ODI and Test boots on different days or its gonna be a single mourning day of Indian cricket? Will he retire with 99 centuries and become immortal like that of Don’s 99.96? Whats the point in playing in few bilateral series? What is he gonna do?What what what?? Wait.
Why should he retire? Do any of us stop sleeping with our spouse once we are done with the target number of Kids? Cricket is his sex. Let him play as long as looks sexy with the willow.His andropause is still 2-3 years away. But still its gonna come. Sooner or later.
Sir and Bharat Ratna. Here we come.
At the end of it, I have a great story for my Grand kids. Well, what ever happens. I’ve seen the God having his hands upon the coveted cup which eluded him for 22 long years. Two things can die in peace. Self & Cricket. Now!