India is fanatic about the sport of cricket. While I have heard some Westerners describe cricket as ‘about as exciting as watching paint dry,’ I have become a real fan since moving to India. Before I came here, knowing that men everywhere talk about sports, I decided to learn about cricket. I spent about six months learning the rules and some of the language of the game. When I had questions, I would ask an Indian friend in the US who played the game. The first year we were here was also the first year of the new IPL cricket league, putting the best players from all over the world on teams with Indian players, playing Twenty/20 cricket, which is an exciting short form of the game. Watching this first IPL season, my wife, Carol, and I became real fans.
This year the big event in cricket was the World Cup, played every four years. India has not won this in 28 years, and the Indian team recently has been resurgent, with top players winning big games and series in all forms of the game. The other added ingredient in this year’s series was Sachin Tendulkar. He is undoubtedly the greatest batter in the history of cricket. He has won everything possible in the game, except the World Cup. Team India dedicated themselves this year to winning the Cup for Sachin, called “the Little Master.” (Because he’s only 5 feet 6 inches tall.) At 37 years old, it’s likely that this will be Sachin’s last chance to play for the World Cup.
Last Wednesday, India played Pakistan in the World Cup semifinals. India vs. Pakistan matches are almost like war between these two countries, and are one of the biggest rivalries in sports worldwide. The game was watched on TV by more than one billion people. India won, and on so Saturday played the Sri Lanka team for the title. Naturally Carol and I watched both games.
Next to our house is the Hotel Ashreya. They recently installed a projection TV, and after dark, show the World Cup games on a big screen in the courtyard outside their bar. Below, I post a few photos from this to give you a flavor of the rabid India cricket fans.
We started to watch from our house. The game began at 2:30 in the afternoon, and Ashreya Hotel’s outside big screen cannot be viewed until after sundown.
As the game was getting ready to start, there was much fan action shown on TV. Here a man runs with an Indian flag.
The Indian team huddles before the game, saying last words before the start.
The game begins. Sri Lanka is batting first. India will chase, that is, bat second, with the total runs having been set by Sri Lanka. We’ll watch The Chase on Ashreya’s big screen.
Sri Lanka got off to a good start. About the end of their innings it was time for us to claim our spot in front of the big screen.
Here is Carol wearing her Team India cricket shirt, Number 7 for MS Dhoni, for the event. Not only was she the only woman there, but the only person in “proper attire” to cheer on the team.
The Indian men love to see Carol in her Dhoni cricket jersey.
We walked to the Hotel Ashreya early to make sure that we got a good table.
The big screen is in the courtyard at the far side of the bar. I entered through the bar.
It is not dusk yet, and already a number of tables are taken. There is one at the front right. I go there to claim it before the crowd arrives.
Early viewers, sitting in the nice grounds, watching the last few overs of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is doing too well in these final overs, and end up with 275 runs, a good total.
It gets darker. Looking back towards the bar building. Still there are many empty tables.
Now India comes up to bat. One of their batting aces, Virender Sehwag, goes out on the second ball. Ouch! He is one of the most feared of India’s batsmen, and already Sri Lanka has claimed his wicket.
Here is the Sri Lankan bad guy, one of their ace bowlers, Lasith Malenga.
His locks are dyed blond at the tips. It is his usual ‘look’. Even without this, he bowls so well, and with such an unusual sidearm motion, that we wouldn’t forget him.
Now already he also gets Tendulkar’s wicket. Now 2 are gone for India! Our best batsmen! Bad start! Will the rest of India’s great batting squad be able to step up and get what is needed? Already staunch India fans are talking about leaving and not watching the rest of the game.
Below, a Sri Lankan player exults. Something bad must have happened for India.
Now Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir have to step up, gets runs on the board, and not get out, not take unnecessary risks, not get more early wickets.
Looking at the screen and tables from the back of the courtyard.
India is starting to do better. A man dances in front of the screen.
The fans cheer a good shot from MS Dhoni.
Another good shot, a boundary. Two men dance in exultation.
Yet another good hit from India’s MS Dhoni. It is looking like maybe they will come back and win.
Another good shot! Getting close to victory. More people come up on the stage to celebrate.
People stand, giving rapt attention to each moment of the game now.
Another boundary by Dhoni! India is going to win, everyone thinks now.
At the last ball Dhoni hits a giant six into the stands. The game is over and India wins the World Cup for the first time in 28 years! We do not see what is happening on the screen since it is blocked by all the cheering fans.
Happy fans celebrating the victory.
We had a great time, and the energy of the Indian cricket fans was fantastic, and fun to watch. Good game India! MS Dhoni was given the “Man of the Match” award for his outstanding batting late in the game that really pulled India over the mark to victory. Here is a BBC report on the aftermath of the game in India and Sri Lanka.
Hotel Ashreya is, I have heard, going to keep using their projector TV for more events. Next fall, in the tourist season here, they will show English football (televised on Saturdays by ESPN). They will also have American movies to enjoy in an outdoor setting. With a full menu of veg and non-veg food and a bar that offers cocktails and cold beer. While not of interest to many of the serious spiritual seekers who flock to visit Tiruvannamalai, there are many who will enjoy this break in their week here.