It was a strange feeling one which I hadn’t lived through ever in my fan life - rooting for India without the associated anxiety or the desperation. My stomach didn’t squirm in discomfort during the death overs, my blood didn’t boil over a misfield, nor did I stand awkwardly with half a foot on the TV hall and half a foot in the prayer hall.
Probably because T20 was a new unheard format at that time, maybe because the big guns sat back at home, or because India just undid the horrors of the 50 over world cup by the victory in England, or it was just that I couldn’t come to terms with a long-haired Bollywood model leading an Indian team. Thanks largely to that confusion, I, for once, was able to do what I have envied seeing a lot of others do. Enjoy a game of cricket that India played.
I had as much fun as Robin Uthappa when he bowed when India won a cricket match 3-0, neither did I go into depression when we lost to New Zealand in the first match of the Super 8s, and surprisingly remained level-headed even after Yuvi’s sixes, and DK’s moment of Jonty Rhodes to dismiss Greame Smith. I looked down at India’s semi-finals entry with a touch of contempt like the way an Arsenal or Man Utd supporter would look at a Carling Cup. Afterall, it was just a T20 World Cup.
Whoever wrote the scripts for sports, and whatever sadistic pleasure they got from taking away the brief period of happiness I was going through! That dreaded feeling of anguish, desperation, anticipation and fear returned when I knew about one of the finalists. Pakistan does that to you.
It wasn’t just about beating Australia in Semi-Finals, it was already dreaming about the showdown at Wanderers. And for the first time during the T20 World Cup, the calculators were back again, the TV went back to its rightful place in the prayer hall, so were the heated abuses hurled up at everyone when Hayden was blazing through and doing the Bhangra along with Bhajji. I was back being the only way I knew I could be as an Indian cricket fan.
There are certain things in your memory that gradually get forgotten with new nicer things happening in your life. Whatever were to happen further in my life, the night of Sept 24 would be among the final few holding fort. For in a span of 3 hours, I went through every bit of emotion anyone could go through.
I wish I could put into words what I went through when Umar Gul Umar Gul dismissed Yuvi and Dhoni, or when Imran Nazir started the way he did, or how I felt after that 21 run over of Sreesanth. And when Misbah scooped the ball up in the air, I wish I hadn’t shut my eyes and had the courage to watch it live.