World Cup Fever and an Indian Fan 

World Cup Fever and an Indian Fan 

It happens once every four years and when it is on, the entire nation comes to a standstill. Well maybe not entirely, but definitely majorly. 

And it is here now- No ! Not the leap year- Its the World Cup Cricket Fever.

I caught this fever way back in the early 90’s. Growing up in the Middle East we somehow developed an immunity to this fever. But then thanks to Saddam Hussain, a Gulf War that displaced major portion of Indian families and my uncle we caught the bug too. My brother and I.

So we learnt the nuances of the game pretty fast. We were a generation that didn’t have too many avenues for distraction. We learnt it fast and we were hooked like millions of Indians across the globe. The Bug had bitten and the fever a reality.

One has to first appreciate that an Indian Cricket Fan is a unique species. Someone like none other. There are a few kinds of us - The Eternal ‘Bhakth’ - with life long dedication to that one player, that refuses to fade away even post retirement and literally no activity on or off field. Every cricket season is a throwback opp for this fan.

We have fan type 2 - The walking-talking ‘ Bhandaar’ or statistics box. The cricket season is when this chap gets to bring forth the expansiveness of his knowledge storehouse. Every match, every wicket, every run, every player and what not. This fan has it all knows it all.

Fan #3 - The seasonal ‘Tapka’ - the ones who know bits and pieces of the game but are eager to be in the thick and thin of it while the fever has pitched in. They know little but just enough to hold on a conversation for a decent time. They are active during the peak cricket season and divert to other interests when season change.

However even the mildest of fan will have the wildest of superstitions when a Cricket game is on. It is difficult to even imagine the level of superstition if the match happens to be India Vs PAKISTAN. Its a different ball game all together then.

Superstition ! and Cricket ? Well yes.

I am sure many of us doing the growing up in the 90’s had these fan moments. I am not sure if the kids of the present generation even know how to get passionate about something. Or anything for that matter.

So the 4 year bug when it bites it brings along with the fever the symptoms of superstition. It is no surprise actually for India and majority of households are filled with them. All that was needed was their diversion into our minds and actions when a Cricket match is on - especially a World Cup Match.

These are few of the weird superstitions that we carried with us through the entire season of the World Cup. I can safely say weird now as I no longer have them. Well, focused on Cricket its a no - other areas of life ...Umm maybe or maybe not. But lets not go there yet.

1. The burden of seeing India through was on our small shoulders. Not on the playing 11 and the coaches and medicos - mind you. It was on the shoulders of the Indian Cricket Fan. Our Prayers Worked. We prayed hard day and night as the matches were on. We prayed before the matches and after to ensure that the winning team against us lose their next match.

2. India won when we wore a particular colour. That colour got us out of a real tough spot. All the remaining matches would be watched in that same colour. Or even that same winning fan dress.

3. Sachin hit sixes when we were seated and got out when we stood up. Never ever would you stand up when Sachin is in between the crease. How could you ? Totally Abominable. The winning position is never changed. Not even to answer nature’s call.

4.Catching hold of the almighty. Making deals with the super power. We will do this if you make India win this one or we will give this up if India wins just this one match. Oh the levels of desperation and the things you do for the men in blue.

5. Silence ! No distraction or sounds of any kinds. The random sounds of crackling chips would be shooed down too. Traitors. How can we fill stomachs when our hearts might just fall thud ? 11 runs off the last 6 balls. No ball to waste and the necessity of stopping a boundary. The trauma of the 1986 match against Pakistan where Javed Miandad was at crease and needed to score 11 off the last over to tie the match. He scored 7 off 5. 6 off the last ball was surely impossible and yet to the heartbreak of the Indian fan he did just that. Traumatised for life. Coffee table discussion matter. For a long time.

6. Keeping off Non Veg for the whole season ! EXTREME. Well mere mortals attempted being vegetarians atleast for the days India played. The power of abstinence and Vrat. Far more powerful than our batsmens scores and our bowlers arm, length and pace.

8. Lucky Charm. Oh yes this was a saviour for the team. It could be anything - you just needed to have it on your body. It didnt matter if it was your tattered t shirt from 4 years back. India won when you wore it. That’s what matters. That’s the only thing that mattered. That is the teams lucky charm.

9. Hating it when the commentators praised your favorite player. He would get dismissed or be hit all over the ground the very next instant. No praises while the match is on lest it goes into the players mind. Distractions to be at minimum levels.

7. Oh yes ! you noticed right. I did miss #7 up there. This had to be the best and thus saved for the last. Its #7 after all. ( Pun Intended ) Not watching a match so that India could win. Between my brother and me - we actually did a lot of this. And yes we didn’t see matches - had our blood pressure shoot up sitting in some corner of the house and trying to figure out what could be the cause of all the shouting from the neighbours houses and your own living room - just a few feet away. The heights of self control and resistance. How many live matches we missed and made peace with recaps.

Were you able to relate to any of these ? Or did you have another set all together. Do let me know.

On a serious note I just read that the Cricketers are more often than not caught in this whirlpool of sentimentality and superstition too.

The Indian Team for 2019 apparently has the dates of their previous World Cup victories engraved on their jersey. A sneak peak for goosebumps and motivation.

The English team have adopted the colour of the jersey the last winning England Team wore. Colour wins matches apparently.

Back in the days of glory, Sunil Gavaskar used to wear his right shoe and pad first before going out to play. It is said Mohinder Amarnath used to have a red handkerchief sticking out of his pocket while batting.

Be it the players or the spectators - the Gods on the field or the fans off the field; Cricket is one game that brings out the best in us. And the weird in us too.

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