I used to be a lukewarm cricket fan in my younger days. By that I mean I used to listen to commentaries on radio, watch matches on TV (when it first made its appearance in the living rooms of average Indian homes), keep my fingers crossed and watch with bated breath. But I was no hardcore connoisseur of the game - I still don't understand the technicalities of the game. But I certainly wanted our side to win (needless to say) and used to get massively disappointed if we lost. Somehow we never won a match I saw.
Nothing changed over the years. Only the feeling of disappointment each time we lost was overwhelming. The last time I saw a match was in a hostel in the UK. It was 1995. We were playing the finals of the World Cup against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens. In my enthusiasm, I went and bought samosas for all the people sitting there (15-20 people). We got some coffee and tea for everyone and created a real atmosphere there. The excitement was palpable. A Sri Lankan girl and I were the only representatives of our country.
However, for all the enthusiasm, imagine my embarassment when we lost and then the crowd in the stadium turned violent. That was the last time I watched a match. Losing the match was bad enough. What was worse was the humiliation of our people behaving badly for the whole world to see. That was absolutely the last straw to break the camel's back. Somehow the whole spirit of the game seems to have been lost. I decided in the interests of my blood pressure and in the interests of the country's prospects of winning (I am patriotic in my own way, you see), to never see a match again. Regular talks of match fixings were not a great incentive to watch the game either.
However, yesterday was another day altogether. The excitement in the air was palpable. The whole country seemed to be in the grip of cricket fever. No one had any intention of going to work. There was hardly any traffic on the roads. So after all these years., I felt tempted to watch the game again - and partly I was not left with any alternative either. There was not much else to keep me busy. As soon as India's batting was over, our prospects seemed to be quite iffy. In order to avoid an impending catastrophe, I quickly switched over to my daily soaps and kept switching back to the match in the commercial breaks. I think this combination was ideal - I was watching but not watching. The outcome was there for all to see - we won. I was happy to have broken a jinx of years and am determined to watch the entire match on Saturday. So here's keeping my fingers (and for good measure my toes too) crossed.