Notes from Delhi: The one with cricket

I’ve said it once and I’m saying it again. I’m stuck in the wrong country for this world cup. I’m not the biggest cricket fan but once in four years I put aside my sporting apathy and muster up enough enthusiasm for the world cup.

India has really grown on me and I even find myself defending it at times, but when it comes to cricket – between you, me and the interwebs – I have an unprecedented, irrational dislike towards their cricket team. But sssssshhhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Yesterday the whole of Delhi was a ghost town. Offices were closed; students called in ‘sick’ and arrangements made to screen the match in every nook and cranny.  While walking to college, the usually bustling lanes were deserted and the usually deserted gazebo on the street was filled with men avidly discussing India’s prospects as though they were the ones heading out on the pitch in a few hours. Stopping to pick up chips from the way-side shop, we overhead the shopkeeper placing bets on the phone (he was placing his money on Pakistan) and on our way to watch the (screening of the) match we passed people huddled around tiny TV screens watching every ball with bated breath.

We watched yesterday’s match from three different locations (don’t ask). We hightailed it out of the first as soon as the bouncer/manager/random man came and quoted the exorbitant price per person and went on to the second but returned back home during the break to watch the second innings. My flatmates had been considerably vocal in their support while we were out, but in the confines of our cramped TV room, any vestiges of restraint were promptly thrown out the window.

Everything you’ve heard about India and its fanaticism for cricket is true. India is a country where hockey is its national sport but cricket is its religion.

Hindi swear words of the lowest order were thrown all over the room, Raina’s butt was admired, Nehra’s mother was cursed and Afridi was booed at. Each bowler was scrutinized; Ravi Shastri’s commentary was ripped to shreds; every boundary by Pakistan was followed by howls.

Also, have you any idea what it’s like to be the sole Sri Lankan supporter in the midst of a gaggle of hysterical Indians? With every wicket that India took, their throats grew hoarser, the roars grew louder and my life-expectancy drastically decreased. The thing is this was no ordinary cricket match. This was “India and Pakistan, bitch!” as R so eloquently put it. The ramifications of this match ran deeper than merely the finals of the world cup. The Ind-Pak SMS jokes flew thick and fast during the countdown to the match and its duration, the kindest being “why was the match played in Mohali? So that it would be easier for Pakistan to walk back home over the border”

Indian Y and I had a loud exchange because I was shocked at the deeply racist sentiments that were made not about the Pakistan team (Bar one or two players, I’m not too big a fan of the Pak cricket team either but I don’t let the country’s politics or religion blind me) but at the shocking stereotypes and slurs about the country itself. That’s just not…cricket – if you know what I mean.

Anyway, the rest of the bantering was in the spirit of the game and once the last wicket was taken we went up to the roof top to watch the sky erupt with fireworks,

I don’t know where I will watch the match on Saturday. I have the option of joining other homesick Lankans located in Delhi OR watching the match with a bunch of cricket-crazy Indians. Either way, come Saturday I will don my Sri Lanka t-shirt and dig up my acrylic paint and yell slogans in Sinhala.

This one’s for the Sri Lankan cricket team.  To my boys in blue, I don’t know much about cricket. But what I do know is that we could really, really do with a win.  I’ve followed each and every qualifying match this year. I’m painfully aware of India’s prowess but I believe in my heart-est of hearts we can do this.

So what say, we bring the cup home, boys?

Ps: The SL-Ind SMS jokes have started. Here’s a sample:” Dear Sri Lanka, We come from the land of Kama Sutra. We can screw you in 77 different ways. Yours sincerely, India”.


Pps: Here’s something to get you into the spirit.

13 thoughts on “Notes from Delhi: The one with cricket

  1. Oh gosh you poor thing. I watched the last India-SL World Cup encounter with a bunch of Sri Lankans and Indians and the abuse I got when it became apparent they were losing was enough for me to never want to watch cricket with Indians ever again.

    I guess it depends on what your friends are like. And you know there’ll be plenty to blog about after! 😉

  2. haha.

    I supported India in that match and i was quite in awe myself with the unbelievably things that happened around me. The devil had taken over the whole country.

    I believe that India will win it and sachin will score his hundred.
    That is not my opinion. That is what I am hearing everywhere and somehow all the things I am hearing about the world cup are coming true, it just feels that everything is fixed.

    Check out my page and let me know about the whole ranting.

    tc and all the best. may it be a good match. winning is immaterial i just want 8 hours in front of the tele entertaining. and i pray murali takes back his retirement call!



  3. Hahahahahaha. Oh poor you!

    They are gonna be either sore losers or arrogant winners so it’s a lose-lose situation for you if you watch it with them either way.

  4. Haha, the SL vs, Ind SMS joke was funny xD
    I’d advise you to watch the match with the homesick Lankans! The Indians, irrespective of if they’re winning or losing, will get nasty… this is for your own safety O_O

  5. I was resolutely anti-cricket until a couple of weeks ago-it was the atmosphere at the Australia-Pakistan match that turned me; it had something of the flavour of the Royal-Thomian. Now I’m following the matches almost as eagerly as everyone one else.

    I don’t think I know a lot about the game but what surprises me is how little the die hard fans appreciate its finer points. The skills of the bowler, movement of the ball, the variations in pitch are often lost and any runs are applauded, even off the streakiest shots.

    The real interest is in a keen tussle between bat and ball, a one-way sided march to victory is extremely boring (like the England-SL match) but it seems to thrill the crowd.

  6. I found the notes rather hilarious actually! 😀

    While everyone else is assuming what it must be to watch an India Sri Lanka match with Indians, take it from someone who HAS done it! The last world cup, i was the sole supporter for SL when they took on India in the world cup, and boy, what a ruckus! It was violent, aggresive, and sometimes rather insulting, but boy was it worth it as I watched Indian wickets tumble, one by one by one.. and people leaving the tv room in silence, one by one by one… until only I was left, grinning to myself, watching till the last ball was bowled 😀

    enjoy it! they are a passionate bunch, and their passion can be mistaken for arrogance, though more often it is them who confuse their arrogance for passion. just know that if we win tomorrow, it will be a victory so, so sweet..

    if not, then i have pissed off a lot of indians on facebook , and they are going to have a field day with me :S

  7. sorry, another comment:

    i think it’s funny how people hate on the indian team because of their supposed racism towards pakistanis, or whatever. please. right now, there are similar texts and insults being passed around in pakistan about india, so lets justsay both of those nations are utter morons when it comes to cricket or anything indo-pakistani..

    i found this statement in this article about sri lankan cricket just so, so true:

    “The reality is that not being overwrought suits the way Sri Lanka play their cricket. They are fortunate that of all the cricket-playing nations in the subcontinent, their fans, though not lacking passion, are the most balanced. While they celebrate their victories with as much vigour as their neighbours, they retain the perspective to take defeat in their stride.”

    and I’m done 🙂

  8. I would try and get the homesick Lankans to watch it with you and your Indian friends. Safety in numbers and all that! But seriously – wherever you watch it and whoever wins – the atmosphere will be rowdy nonetheless so just be careful. 🙂

    I especially liked the first note! It’s a good portrait of you! 😛

  9. @Jerry yup. Read it 🙂 flicked it off T’s post. *gasp* and you call me a traitor!

    @PR Heh. My friends are pretty awesome but the Ind-Pak match gave me a dose of what to expect. I’m def leaning towards chilling with the Sri Lankans tmrw!

    @saras lets see how it goes. May the best team win 🙂

    Sabby, I know!

    Sach, if we win, I’ll be worried about my safety!

    GGpurple, hatred is a harsh word 🙂 I just dislike a few cricketers in the team. Hence, the biasness. I have nothing but respect for sachin though.

    The puppeteer, yeah. I opted out for public screenings tmrw. 🙂 There’s only so many Indian Fans in a room, I can take.

    JP, in all fairness I haven’t put up the notes that I reciprocated with 😀 I found them amusing myself – they were given and received in good spirit.

    @gehan loved that cricinfo article. We definitely possess the balance that the Asian fans lack. Yikes! I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you :S At least you had the satisfaction of seeing a SL win – with our weak middle order and Matthews out of the way, I’m terribly apprehensive about tomorrow.

    Scrumps, I will, thanks 🙂 It’s going to be a craaaaazy night tmrw. And I look marginally better than my portrait, I promise you 😛

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