When you are someone who keeps a close track of every match – even if India plays Zimbabwe – remembers the exact over and the ball on which a catch was dropped or a maximum was hit, it can be quite a nerve-wracking and restless experience when you know that a high-octane cricket game is on, but you have no way of experiencing live action. It makes you wonder how people can make do by watching the highlights – it's almost blasphemous.
A couple of months ago, a courier guy casually dropped in an envelope in my letter box, which required me to be present at Hisar in Haryana for some silly exam – ones which, you know, do not hold any significance but are a stepping stone towards the BIG degree that you are planning.
As I flipped open the envelope and went through the contents of a flimsy paper, the first thing that my eyes wandered to was not the distance of the examination centre or how I would squeeze in time, what bothered me was the scheduled date of the exam. 9 June 2019, it read.
I could remember from the top of my head that the World Cup match between India and Australia was set to be held on the same day.
As the build up for the big game began, the buzz word was Super Sunday. Every social media post that I scrolled down – without liking of course – highlighting how excited an individual was for the upcoming game. It felt like a needle piercing through my heart.
The D day arrived, both for India and me. My exam went as it had to, as if I cared. At 2:40 pm, after getting done with a few pages of scribbling on the answer sheet, I boarded a bus for the return journey. At exactly 2:58 pm, I plugged in my headphones and waited for the fun to begin.
I smiled foolishly, showing my Aloo ka Paratha smeared teeth, as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma walked to the middle. Right, the first ball. Rohit Sharma facing, Pat Cummins on the top of his mark. For some reason, Cummins has got stuck in his delivery stride and is unable to release the ball. A white circle is now pivoting on its axis and has taken the place of Rohit Sharma on the screen. They call it buffering.
It was then that I realised the third most important thing that the Indian highways are bereft of, apart from urinals and first aid installations. They are mobile towers.
As live streaming was out of question, I was left at the mercy of Cricbuzz for regular score updates. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma get India off a steady start. Missed. Both openers notch up their respective half-centuries. Missed.
Shikhar Dhawan inching towards his third World Cup century. Missed. Each time I would hear a burst of commentary, which lasted no more than a couple of seconds from one of the many buffering mobile phones in the bus, I would literally twist in my seat.
Virat Kohli beginning to find some rhythm. Missed. Hardik Pandya going against the run of play to blast the Aussie bowling attack. Missed. Meanwhile, my bus driver has hatched a plot to further mess up my brain. He starts playing some random Haryanvi song on full-blown volume, with speakers right over my head. This I so want to miss but have little say in the matter.
MS Dhoni hoicks Mitchell Starc for a gigantic six over square leg. Missed. This hurts right in the gut. What I wouldn't have given to be in my bedroom at this moment, with a lukewarm cup of coffee in my hand, back placed firmly against the pillow, living every bit of this glorious experience, to see vintage Dhoni in full flow in his swansong. Super Sunday, my foot!
As a couple of big strikes from KL Rahul take India past 350, I hurry down from the bus towards the railway station to catch a connecting train. How could have rain not joined the party at this moment. Completely drenched, I entered the waiting lounge at the railway station, to be taken aback by the almost theatre-like ambience that I witnessed.
Apparently, Ravindra Jadeja had just made a diving stop and the entire waiting lounge was up on its feet. What a spectacle, I thought to myself. It was quite obvious that the room was field with people of different ages, different states, different religions, different genders, but one thing that united them in a common thread was the passion and enthusiasm that they shared for the country and for the game.
It was also obvious that a lot of them were not regular cricket followers, which is why when David Warner was caught in the circle off Hardik Pandya on a free hit, the aunty next to me kept clapping vehemently for almost two minutes. She then gave me a strange look, just stopping short of saying, "What kind of a fan are you?"
Discounting minor scares from Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey, things pretty much panned out as planned for Team India and it succeeded in registering a relatively comfortable victory.
With the clock nearing my train's time, as I walked out of the lounge, having thoroughly enjoyed the game, I knew I would sleep like a baby today on that narrow berth, but only after glancing through the highlights of the first innings.
(Saksham Mishra is a freelance sports journalist, justifying hours of watching sports by scribbling down a few logical lines that might just about hold your interest. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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