Sunday, February 7, 2016

Better Late Than Never

I had come to Mumbai, from Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), in 2009.  I lived with my elder brother while my parents stayed in Riyadh. I used to have heart-to-heart telephonic conversations, every two-three days, with my mother and a one minute telephonic conversation with my dad on weekends. I was never close to my dad. Maybe it was because I was just too close to my mom or maybe it was because my father was indifferent towards me in my childhood; I still can’t pen down the exact reason for this aloofness.
I completed my Automobile Engineering in May 2013. My parents returned home, the day my exam got over. Needless to say I was exhilarated to see my mom; not so much on seeing my dad. Mind you, I hadn’t met him in over four years, and there I was, giving him the silent treatment.
It was about the same time, the ICC Champions Trophy tournament commenced. Having won the ICC Cricket World Cup, India were the hot favourites to lift the Champions Trophy. As expected, India faced no major hurdles in reaching the ICC finals. Meanwhile, another team, that was at par with India in all departments (batting, bowling and fielding) as the tournament progressed, had made into the finals. Beating England in England was no child’s play.
The day was 23rd of June, 2013. India vs England in the finals of ICC Champions Trophy. Since it was a Sunday, my dad and I were watching the match together. Well, honestly, we weren’t interacting much. He kept making observations and I kept nodding, without paying much attention to what he was saying. The day couldn’t have started on a more disastrous note- Birmingham was surrounded with black clouds and it was raining non-stop. After several hours (felt like an eternity to me), it was announced that the game would start but it would be a 20-20 sprint match rather than a 50-overs spectacle.
England won the toss and elected to field. They wanted to exploit the rainy conditions and that’s exactly what they did. India lost Rohit Sharma soon. The in-form Dhawan and Kohli steadied the Indian innings but as soon as they lost their wickets, India fell like a pack of cards. Ravindra Jadeja then managed to take India to a fighting total. India set a target of 130 for England to chase.
During the Indian innings, I kept losing my cool as India lost wickets. My dad kept pacifying me by telling that England, too, would find it difficult to bat. Obviously, this didn’t calm me. Instead, I kept wondering what if he’s wrong. I must not have prayed as much during the 2011 World Cup finals as I prayed at that moment.
To my surprise, India started their fielding on a high note, picked up 4 wickets for 45 runs and put England on the back pedestal. It was at that time, my Dad started reliving the memories of the famous 1983 Indian victory at the 1983 World Cup finals against the mammoth West Indies. Unexpectedly, I started paying more attention to what my dad had to say than on the game. I was surprised at his knowledge of cricket anecdotes and trivia, and it was then I realized that my dad was as big a cricket fan as I was. It was just that we never openly shared our passion for cricket with each other.
We lost track of the time but one look at the scorecard brought us back to reality. England needed 24 runs in 18 balls with 6 wickets in hands. My dad and I glued ourselves to the TV screen, not even blinking an eye, as Ishant Sharma bowled the 18th over. He was immediately hit for a four. The English batsmen had a partnership of over 60 runs for the fifth wicket and looked like they were eager to end the game and bring the trophy home. And then the miracle happened. I’ll never forget what I witnessed. As Ishant took his run-up, my dad predicted that he would take two wickets in this over. Lo and behold, Ishant dismissed the two in-form batsmen in successive deliveries and the match turned around in favour of India. India defeated England by 5 runs and won the ICC Champions Trophy.
I was elated that India won. But more importantly, from that day onward, my dad and I have watched all the cricket matches together, and I’ve started enjoying his company. I’ll always relish the moment when I bonded with my dad over cricket and it is forever etched in my mind.


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