A Rivalry More Intense than Sox-Yanks
24.09.2007 0 °F
As much as I love baseball and am entirely engrossed in the omnipresent war between Boston and New York, they have never fought a real war. India and Pakistan, however, have fought several and are seemingly always on the brink of another. For one night at least, the tensions between these two former brothers and geopolitical rivals were constrained to a proxy battle on the cricket fields of South Africa.
The ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament kicked off last week to a surprisingly small amount of fanfare given the nearly unhealthy level of obsession with the sport here in India. The tournament boasted a slightly new form of cricket, and India responded by holding some of their veterans at home; choosing instead to field a lineup of youngsters. Heading this group was MS Dhoni, the newly christened and surprising choice as captain. As the tournament progressed, India won several matches and the momentum and excitement began to build around Mumbai. Meanwhile, sneaking through the opposite bracket was Pakistan, improbably setting the stage for an unexpected clash of the fiercest rivalry in the world. On Friday, after Pakistan rolled over New Zealand and India trounced heavily-favored Australia, the match-up was set and the build-up began.
I got up at 6:00 this morning so I could ride to Pune, the second largest city in Maharashtra, to pack some testing kits and send them to Delhi. It was not the most exciting work, and the four-hour drive each way was not made more bearable by the fact that I had to wait several hours for the courier to arrive and take possession of the goods. I didn’t return to Mumbai until around 8:00pm, well after the 5:30 start of the final match. Luckily for me, the match started late and I arrived in time to witness a furious Pakistani comeback. They were on the verge of victory, and nationwide depression was beginning to take hold, until India salvaged a miraculous win! No sooner was the final ball caught than the firecrackers began exploding all over Mumbai. Laura and I took to the streets with the cheering masses, and as I write this the firecrackers are still popping and the streets are clogged with hordes of deliriously happy fans waving the Indian tri-color.
I think I’m beginning to become a cricket fan.