Cricket and Bollywood. Yes, these are possibly the two most popular things that India is renowned for. They are also the two things that stir up an untold passion and euphoria with Indian audiences – be it within the sub-continent or internationally. Nothing excites the Indian masses more than the release of a big banner film which stars legends from the Indian film fraternity. Arguably, this kind of excitement is nowhere near the ecstasy that the sport of cricket creates within that same audience. When playing on an international stage, the game instantly becomes an izzat ka sawaal. It’s been much the same during the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Today’s match against Pakistan, for Indian supporters, was probably of more significance that the final itself. Am I right… or am I right? 😉 Why does this sport mean so much to Indians worldwide? Why is it so close to our hearts and why do we take it so seriously?
As a British Indian, I personally felt that winning the match today would put India on a very different kind of high. Why? Well, it’s the age old feud that everyone knows all too well. I refuse to believe that the nations are forever at each other’s throats but when it comes to cricket, it seems to be the survival of the fittest. It seems the whole of India and all those with ties to the country take a deep breath and don’t exhale until the match is over. This time around, it seems the media also caught on to this and what this the advanced technological age, it was interesting to say the least to see many a news outlet treating the match like a real battle.
For those like me, born and bred in England, there is always the constant dilemma between Team England and Team India. However, if I put my hand on my heart, I think my support would probably always go to Mera Bharat Mahaan. Why? Hmmm… well this is where it gets complicated. I love the UK and I wouldn’t change my life in London for the world. So why is it that when it comes to being patriotic, my pull is always towards India? Why, when my life is in England, do I still instantly give my support to the Indian Team? I suppose it’s a bit like choosing between your roots and your lifestyle. Sometimes the two can intermingle perfectly but other times you’ve simply got to follow your heart and give way to what you feel in your gut. My gut says India… but this doesn’t mean I love England any less or that I’m disregarding the country I reside in. I think it’s perhaps best to say that in cricket, if you’re an Indian, it’s almost part of your genetic make-up to be passionate and let out the competitive streak. All you want to see is India win, no matter the odds. All you want to feel is pride in your heart and a sense of belonging… and for some reason, India winning the cricket makes you feel all this and more!
I will sign off by saying that which I touched on on Twitter a little while ago. I don’t believe it is right to say that the better team won today. The battle between India and Pakistan in cricket has never been one-sided and this is perhaps why it holds so much importance to fans on both sides. I feel it is the unpredictability of it all which makes it so interesting, not only for the teams and nations in question but also for the onlookers around the world. Today’s match was no different and it would have been hard to say that any one team was always going to come out as a winner. Having said that, with every sport, there always has to be one winner and one loser… and it just so happened that today was India’s day. Well done to Pakistan! Getting to the Semi Finals is no mean feat.
As those in the Indian sub-continent and beyond breath a sigh of relief following today’s match, the final battle is yet to come. Kudos to MS Dhoni and the Indian team… let’s hope today doesn’t make them lose sight of the ultimate goal: the cup!