"Cricket is our religion and Sachin is God". I’m one of the billion that live by that quote. Since I was eight, I've been hooked onto the game, courtesy my mother. She’s one of the only 50 year old women I know who screams and reacts to a dropped catch with the highest emotion at that moment. Every match that Team India plays determines any schedule I make. The result was always secondary. Cricket's a sport that unites the country. People cheer in different languages and pray to different idols that symbolise their spiritual belief, hoping that our team emerges victorious. This reminds me of an article I read, written by John Wright, our former coach, from the Penguin India Yearbook. He mentioned in the article that at a certain point in the dressing room, you could hear conversations in five different languages! It’s amazing to have a team this diverse! Seniority, religion, language... Now I realize that miscommunication could be a valid reason for our run-outs! On a more serious note, with each wicket out team loses in a match, close to a million people are affected! Sighs, curses, advice, everyone reacts, not realizing that Dhoni can’t hear through the TV. With each boundary a batsman hits, there are smiles in most Indian households and with each victory, ecstatic joy. The spirit of the game lies in the faith cricket lovers in out country have in the playing Eleven. Even after a disastrous loss, huge numbers turn out in support of the eleven players the very next match. The encouragement is boundless.
There was this news article about some people belonging to a community in a village somewhere in Maharashtra contributed their earnings of that month just to get connected to the nearest town, to watch the team play against Pakistan. The assurance, belief, and certainty the cricket-loving population has towards our Indian cricket team should add to their confidence and should heighten desire to win every match they play.
A common sight we see is children as young as four, playing cricket in the by-lanes and narrow streets. I was amused by the enthusiasm shown by a seven-year-old in one of the by-lanes I was passing by, and asked him why he loved the game so much. He told me that all the great cricketers he knew of used to play just like he does. He played everyday just so he could become as successful as Sunil Gavaskar, who used to play cricket in a very narrow lane with glass window panes on both sides of the lane when he was young. The surroundings forced him to strike the ball straight across. That was where Sunil Gavaskar got his unusual, yet match-winning tactic from. Cricket is, in every Indian's blood.
I could go on about how much I admire Dhoni, Raina and the others, but at the present moment, I'm just hoping that the jigsaw puzzle falls into place and Team India, at the World Cup 2011, have the courage, poise, determination, luck and strength to bring the Cup home.