The last time I made the mistake of giving up on watching a cricket match to its finish, was way back in 2002, when India faced South Africa in a Champions Trophy game in Sri Lanka. South Africa, led by a Gibbs century, were cruising to victory at the end of 40 overs, when i switched off the TV and went to sleep dejected. Imagine my consternation (albeit, a pleasantly surprised one) when I woke up and found out that South Africa did what they do best in crunch situations and fold to a combination of mesmeric spin and electric fielding, as India stole a win by five runs.
That day, I promised myself that I would never give up on India till the last ball is bowled. By and large, I have remained true to it, and willed myself to sit through agonizing and thrilling games alike. Then, yesterday happened.
Numbed after a series of overseas losses over the last year, I gave up on the team yesterday. Halfway through the game, India had conceded 320 and generally looked listless on the field. It was as if the players had mentally completed the tour and were itching to get back to the comforts of home. As the team disintegrated on the field, I decided that enough was enough. If the players were not interested, why should fans bother? So, I switched off the stream and went to sleep frustrated with another abject performance by Dhoni’s men.
Sure enough, when I woke up and groggily checked the CricInfo app on my phone, the headlines “Kohli masterclass keeps India alive” jolted me up. Since then, I’ve watched the highlights three times (not enough apparently!) and pored over the press reports; and yet, the exhilaration of an improbable victory has not left me yet.
So, thank you Virat, for a gem of an innings. Not only did you keep India alive in the series (just!), but you also gave me 133 reasons to never give up on this team again!