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  • Writer's pictureKapil Pund

A Dash of Sachin and a Pinch of Nostalgia

It’s Mahashivratri today, 1st March 2003 was also Mahashivratri. It was also when India was playing against arch rivals Pakistan in a crucial CWC match! Feel old enough now? I do. Gram Panchayat elections in my village were about to start. Sachin has retired a while ago but the people who were contesting elections back then are still going strong. This day was also the last time I entered a Mosque. The first rally during any election would start from the mosque, for reasons unknown to me back then. Now I know. We used to have electricity only for 12 hours, between 12.30AM to 12.30 PM. Only two families in the neighborhood had a color TV and only one of them had power backup. These were days when if you missed something on TV you would miss it forever. There were no highlights tailored for your needs. If you missed it, you just had to blame yourself and sulk forever. Like I never got to see Mandira Bedi during the pre and post-match shows, because we watched all the matches on DD national. If you know, you know.

At least 30-35 people including 20-25 kids had actually barged into my neighbors house without invitation, and he did not mind. I often feel we have become too formal with others; I mean we don’t even show up uninvited at our friends’ houses these days, forget visiting neighbors. Half of the first innings went on while we waited for Saeed Anwar to get out. Fun Fact , Zaheer Khan is a distant relative of a pharmacist in our town. Zaheer infact visited our town some time before the world cup. While Pakistani batsmen were battering Indian bowlers, some in that small living room even vowed telling Zaheer what he should do better if he ever came back to visit his mamu. I wonder if John Wright or Ganguly would have liked that. Pakistan finished their innings on 273/7. I cannot forget Wasim Akram’s face as he greeted Rashid Latif with an evil laugh as they walked off the field. He was so happy. They were sure they’d got India by the balls, and honestly, we also thought so and so did most of the cricket pundits. A target of 273 back in the day was almost impossible to chase. 10-year-olds like me had no idea about Wasim, Waqar or Shoaib as we had barely seen them play against India before that. But if we had to believe the oldies in the room, India was about to lose the biggest match of their world cup campaign. I can now understand how Pakistani kids must have felt for years, every time they met India in a world cup game (until very recently of course).

Before the second innings started, I quickly gulped my share of sabudana khichdi that was waiting for me since morning that day and went back to grab my seat, because if you watch cricket, you know changing seats is bad, batsmen get out if you change seats. If you disagree, you must be a football fan. The second innings started and from the first ball, it was carnage. Sachin and Sehwag just went berserk and made us all question the understanding of cricket the oldies in the room had. Amidst all of this, Sachin hit Akhtar for that six which was forever going to be etched in history and Akhtar’s nightmares. Sehwag too hit a pretty similar one off Waqar and that was also equally exquisite. None of us could understand why our parents were afraid of the Paki pacers. This was only until Waqar struck twice in two deliveries and sent a shiver down everyone’s spine. Sehwag and Ganguly were back to the hut. Sachin did not stop the onslaught despite the famous dropped catch, and within no time, Pakistani players started dropping shoulders pretty much like their soldiers drop arms in wars against India (mic drop!)

Akhtar got Sachin, but by that time Sachin had done his job, Yuvraj, Kaif and Dravid took India home safely; world saw the usually calm Rahul Dravid aggressively raise his helmet and the bat in the sky. A young Yuvraj was just in his first phase of creating history because many more glories in the future were waiting for him. Watching Sourav Ganguly speak in the post-match presentation without understanding a word gave us all goosebumps as the crowd could not stop cheering for him. Ganguly may not have scored a run in the game but he did not call this match “just another game” and try to be over friendly for no reason. India eventually went to the finals and lost, which still makes us all feel sad especially those born in the 90s. India won two cricket world cups under MSD after that and lost a lot of crucial games but I can’t remember a match as exciting as this one. If Anne Marie were Indian, she would have written a song named 2003 instead of her famous song titled "2002". Yes, every India-Pak game is a feast for the audience but now it’s too commercial now. I wonder if kids today can remember India-Pak games after 19 years. Until then, wish you all a very happy Mahashivratri, come out of nostalgia, go back to your daily lives now and please do not smoke Ganja in the name of Mahadev.

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