In a country where cricket is deemed a religion and the cricketer a demigod (I do not belong to this set though), the Cricket World Cup is the big moment! As an avid cricket fan I was counting down the days.
14th Feb 2015 Finally, the day dawned.
The 2015 edition of the World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, was about to start. The countdown had begun: 10...8...6...4...2... Game on!
14 teams, 2 pools, 56 matches equalled a month-and-a-half of no fighting for the remote at home.
As for me, I was waiting for Match 4, a clash between arch rivals India vs Pakistan, the best ever sporting showdown. And if you thought it could not get better, it did. The match was on a Sunday! The statistics favoured India with the latter winning all their 5 matches against Pakistan in the past World Cup matches. Stakes were high (as they always are when these two teams clash), and to add to the fervour the sports channel had introduced a commercial just a few days before the match – Mauka! Mauka! – which shows an ever hopeful Pakistani cricket fan, ready with a box full of crackers, to celebrate the victory of Pakistan over India in a world cup match...but never succeeds.
Pressure on Team India? Nah!
So what would it be: Revenge for Pakistan or Repeat for India?
15th Feb 2015 The stage was set. A full capacity crowd at Adelaide – the carnival was about to begin. I was up and ready at 9 in the morning, breakfast done, with my cup of tea, sitting in front of the TV.
India, the defending champions, came into this match with no win in any competitive game in Australia for nearly three months while Pakistan carried the momentum of winning their warm-up games.
Was I nervous? Nope! Maybe the team was.
So coming back to the Match of the tournament. As rival supporters tried to out-scream each other with "Pakistan jeetega" [Pakistan will win] and "India jeetega" [India will win], out walked the captains for the toss – M S Dhoni (sigh!) and Misbah-ul-Haq.
India won the toss (a good omen?) and Dhoni chose to bat.
India then went on to post a mammoth total of 300, aided by Virat Kohli's classy century. Our bowlers bowled one great spell after the other to keep Pakistan at bay. Pakistan could not reach the winning total. They were all out for 224! That's it. India had done it! A win by 76 runs in their first match of CWC15.
Phew! And Mauka! lived on...
From then on started India's dream run. A dramatic turnaround from how the team was performing a few weeks back, they have raised their game to win all their pool matches, bowl out all their opponents so far, topped their pool table to enter the quarter finals. Defeated Bangladesh in the quarters (which had an interesting controversy, but that we can talk about another day) to enter the Semi finals!
The Cricket World Cup 2015 has been memorable so far: mammoth totals have been posted, spectacular catches taken, few upsets caused, new records made with many old records smashed, superb overs bowled, few cricket greats retired, new cricket heroes emerged, controversies galore.
Meanwhile, Mauka! lives on...
Who knows, maybe India can defeat Australia in the semi-final on 26th March 2015 – sweet revenge! – and move on to the final to retain the World Cup!
As Team India gears up to defend their title, they could very well stay true to their this year's team anthem of #Won'tGiveItBack!