No 9: Sports or Religion?

With India doing really well against South Africa in JoBurg and setting a daunting target of 458 after the lunch session on Day 4, I saw two fans on twitter, one Indian and another South African, arguing that who will win the match. Given India’s beyond expected performance against the mighty South Africans in their backyard, totally young and inexperienced batting attack and recent eight consecutive test losses overseas, I couldn’t stop myself diving into that twitter conversation. I replied to the South African fan saying that I really like your optimism that SA can pull of this match or would definitely be able to draw, given nobody has chased that kind of score in the history of cricket in fourth innings. And, the reply was “its not optimism, its faith”.

WI batsmen Chanderpaul kissing the pitch on accomplishing a milestone

WI batsmen Chanderpaul kissing the pitch on accomplishing a milestone

Being born and brought up in a diverse country India, I have always felt that Cricket is the only thing that binds the nation together which has over 22 spoken languages, several cultures and infinite cuisines. The Indian subcontinent consists of four test playing nations and an ODI playing nation, Afghanistan, which just qualified for the WC15 (though technically Afghanistan is not a part of Indian Subcontinent but still is heavily influenced culturally and many of its players lived in refugee camps in Pakistan). Whenever there is a big tournament in the subcontinent, you can feel it on narrow streets, you can smell it in the air and you do embrace it on TV or live in the stadium! People get crazy, break their Television sets or go wild on the streets leaving whatever they are doing. The whole nation or region comes to a standstill. This is not just only a sport, its something more. Perhaps a language which everyone speaks despite having read no books or a cuisine which everyone cherishes even with different taste buds.

A man praying Sachin as he walks out to Bat

A man praying Sachin as he walks out to Bat

My South African twitter friend made me realize that it is not just limited to the subcontinent, it is even way beyond that. Its in Africa, it is in Europe and it is also in the Americas since fifteen small Caribbean nations play as one. Yes, its not just a sport, its a Religion!!

Sachin Tendulkar touching the pitch after his last career match in Mumbai

Sachin Tendulkar touching the pitch after his last career match in Mumbai

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