With a Little Help From the Friends – I

Posted on February 15, 2011 by

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I am going to let you in on a secret. Many people believe that India won the world cup due to a combination of talent, tenacity, self belief and a bit of luck. What they do not know is that to this mixture was added the magic of a few youth in the place called Boiguda, an area which lies behind the Secunderabad Railway. Here, our own team of Indian supporters contributed to this magnificent win. And I am going to tell you that story now.

Team India

The evening cricket was eschewed and everyone gathered in my aunt’s place. Cricket is a team game and so is cricket watching. All our team members were present. The team consisted of intense fans, skeptics, statisticians, historians and what not. In short, a typical group of youngsters who knew everything about Cricket except the nous to play it.

It was sunny day at Lord’s with the wind gently blowing. It was a Black & White day in Lord’s – for us (Color TV hadn’t appeared in India yet). There is no greater joy than watching the start of a cricket match. It is not the same if you watch a match after the first ball has been bowled. The enthusiasm of the players, the fielders spreading out, the bowlers doing their shadow bowling and the opening batsmen walking in are things you need to experience. And in walked Sunil Gavaskar and Krishnamachari Srikanth (his first name would be stylized later). It was Roberts who had the new ball with him and to the sound of the applause from all of us, delivered the first ball to Gavaskar.

India's top scorer

The openers had a torrid time against Garner and Roberts, who were outstanding. Gavaskar went early. Srikanth took his risks, played one unforgettable cover drive going down on one knee, hit some with the middle of his bat, some with the edge, some assured shots and some shots where he himself had no clue what he was doing. As his wont, he got out when he looked like he has got the hang of the bowling. Amarnath walked in. Absolutely assured, judging the ball to the inch, Amarnath played the best innings of the day until Holding got him out with an unplayable delivery. The rest is all a blur to me. All I now remember is our spirits dropping when India’s innings ended. The mighty West Indian team on the other end and we put up a total of just 183. And a fast bowling attack consisting of Sandhu, Mohinder Amarnath, Binny, Madanlal, whose combined speed was less than that of Malcolm Marshall. Can you blame us if we were feeling low?

Yet, we waited eagerly for the West Indian innings to start. Life has no meaning if you don’t believe in miracles. At least that has been the slogan of an Indian fan for a long time and we were no exception. And the first miracle happened very soon. Gordon Greenidge, who single handedly could have got that score, underestimated the capability of Sandhu. He left alone a ball which was wide outside the off stump, only to see the ball come in sharply and uproot his off stump. Underestimation was the keynote of the West Indian batting that day and it started with Greenidge. Just as we were getting hyper, in walked Richards and with disdain started dispatching the bowlers to the fence. In his swagger, look and body language, you could clearly make out that all he had for India’s bowling attack was disdain. It was as if he had been asked to face the gulli bowlers of Boiguda! Fours started flowing from his bat, every one of those lowering our spirits by a notch. And then the inevitable happened. Doordarshan (national) News break. And before the news started, the ever present Narottam Puri gave his prognosis on TV. “With Richards going great guns, it is end of road for India.”

The Big Mistake

We trudged down from the first floor and standing in the middle of our road started finding excuses which would slowly coalesce into a logical explanation on why India’s loss was inevitable. “Reaching the final is too good”, “We beat England, the last time finalist, that’s enough”, “Srikanth should not have got out”, “Nobody can win against West Indies” and such comments were being thrown around. As this discussion was going on, Babu’s dad, who was listening to commentary on radio, came out and in a very matter of fact manner, spoke the sweetest sentence that all of us have ever heard in our cricket watching life, “Richards is out.” Initial disbelief followed by, “Abbe, Richards out ho gaya [Richards is out]”.  This led to the whole bunch of us climbing the stairs back into that room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the action in the news. And Doordarshan news obliged us with a brief snippet.

(End of Part 1. Do check back tomorrow for Part 2)

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Guest Article contributed by Suresh

Suresh is a freelance technical competency development expert in the IT field. A technologist who is more interested in things other than technology. Loves his music and blogs about it often. A sports lover who left his best days behind and still believes 80s were the glory days of cricket. Played cricket in his school and college days and has a couple of ‘paper scores’ to his credit, though he has no proof, having thrown those ‘cuttings’ away!