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Why I'm a cricket fan

MUMBAI, INDIA – APRIL 02: A view of the crowd during the 2011 ICC World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka played at Wankhede Stadium

I still remember the day I became a follower of the religion that is cricket. It was the day before my final exams. The World Cup 2011 had started. India was playing its first match. My first exam was moral science, so my father convinced me to stay for at least six overs despite my pleading. I sat down. 10, 20, 30, 40 overs got over. I found I was unable to get out of my chair. That’s it. I was hooked.

I love cricket. A true cricket fan knows the meaning of ‘cricket is in my blood’. You feel like you’re on the field when you’re watching a match. Cricket is a madness. Your team hits a boundary- you jump out of your seat with a howl that can shake a building with the strongest foundations, the opposing team’s wicket falls- pretty much the same reaction. Your team’s wicket falls- you make a mental note to murder the bowler, and if it’s LBW, the umpire too. It’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?

The first full cricket match I saw was the India-Pakistan semi finals. My exams were over, and I was free to sit glued to the TV screen. India had the match. Pakistan needed 80 runs to win and I thought all the good batsmen were gone. That’s when he walked out. Tall and confident, Shahid Afridi lumbered out into the field. India won that match. Then came the finals.

Everybody else lost interest when Sachin Tendulkar got out, but I stayed to watch. That was also when I became the biggest fan of MS Dhoni that ever walked the earth. His 91 not out that day is etched into my memory forever. He could have waited and made singles. The match was already India’s, as was the World Cup. But that’s not MSD’s style. The next series of events took place in slow motion. Dhoni took off his helmet, Kulasekar ran with the ball determined to get Dhoni out and salvage whatever little pride he could for his team. The ball bounced hard and hit the bat which had made a helicopter like movement before receiving it, and sent it into the cheering crowds of the Wankhede stadium, who went berserk. Yuvraj Singh, the batsman who was off strike, ran and flung himself at Dhoni. Dhoni’s expression- oh sorry, there was no expression. Everybody was thrilled. 1.2 billion Indians here, and the ones all over the world stood up and celebrated.

India had won the World Cup after 29 years.

If you ask somebody why they like golf or football, they would give you hundreds of reasons. But if you ask somebody why they like cricket, there will be very few who can provide you a valid reason. That’s probably the beauty of it. In cricket, I determine where and how the my ball goes. I determine if it goes to the boundary or if I’m just defending this one. Not my bat, me. The fact that I learned the game by watching it on TV and playing the game on my own also gives me a confidence. I’m a free spirited person and do things the way I feel is right, not paying heed to anybody.

Tomorrow if I was batting, and my idol MS Dhoni came up to me and told me I was doing it wrong and shows me how to do it better, I would tell him to go find some better work to do. I like doing things my own way, and refuse to listen to anybody else. In cricket, I can hold the bat the way I like, stand the way I want to and do whatever I want to do when the ball is bouncing towards me. So, cricket is my type of game. My style of batting is truly my own, and nobody else’s. If you see the way some of the greatest batsmen play, you will notice a uniqueness in everything, from the way they hold the bat to the way the play. That’s what makes them great. If you asked me why I loved cricket, I would say it’s because of the freedom the game offers. And then I would probably ponder over the question for hours on end and end up never getting any other answer. That’s probably why I like cricket.

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