Sunday, March 13, 2011

The end of a “non-losing” streak and other superstition

Flags of participating nations outside the Nagpur airport
The day started badly with my name not appearing in the list of people who could buy Semi-Final and Final tickets through the official ICC ballot and ended badly with India losing in the last over. This was my 7th match watching India play in a World Cup (across formats) and the first time that I witnessed defeat. There was the tied game vs. England in Bangalore, which is why I term the streak as a “non-losing” streak rather than a winning one but that had felt like a victory given the position we were in just before the batting power play. On my way out of the stadium after the match I felt no different from the way I felt after Durban, Johannesburg, Dhaka, Bangalore or Delhi. Is this a sign of the fact that I am now mature and understand that in the larger scheme of thing it is just a game or the fact that this was not a knock-out blow and India will live to fight another day?

I currently subscribe to a friends theory about the format of this tournament. According to him this is a tournament of two halves, with practice matches played over a month to acclimatize and the tournament actually being just a knock out series of 7 matches. I tend of agree with him now that I analyse the underwhelming response to the defeat against a key competitor which has left India somewhat exposed in order to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Lucky charms

This defeat may also have broken my cricketing superstition. I wanted to buy the new India jersey when it came out a few months ago but had rationalized thinking that the lucky combination of my old jersey that I bought before leaving for South Africa at the start of my “non-losing” streak and the flag that I bought outside the stadium in Durban before the first match of this streak (India vs England) were my lucky charms and consistent companions through the streak. I think the first item on the to do list when I get to Delhi is to buy the new jersey but I am still not very sure if I should give up on my lucky charms after just one defeat.
The cricket played by India was top notch for 85% of the game. We batted well for the first 40 overs, bowled and fielded well with even Nehra diving and stopping some runs in the final few overs. The game was lost by the batsmen in the last 10 overs of the Indian innings and could have still been won had it not been for the dropped catches by Yuvraj and Gambhir. A lot of people were blaming Dhoni for giving the last over to Nehra and not Harbhajan Sign but I am sure we would have been asking for Nehra to have bowled the over had Bhajji been hit for the runs. Dhoni’s gut instincts have worked more often than not (think back to Joginder Sharma and the final over of the T20 World Cup) and I can’t think of anyone outside the team who could have made a difference.

The stadium in Nagpur is a fabulous place to watch a game of cricket. It is designed much better than the other stadiums that I have been to, and while they do have pillars as part of the stadium design, they are not as obstructive as the ones in Delhi and Bangalore. I had great seats in the shades at a slight angle to the pitch with fabulous view of the entire ground for just Rs 300. Best of all, seats were numbered and everyone followed them to the letter. I wonder why this is something not implemented in other cricket grounds in India?

Kindly dont abuse guests rectally, esp at cricket grounds

The food available left a lot to be desired, there is only so many stale and cold samosas, breakpakoras, kachori and dabeli that one can eat in a day. After the euphoria of the seats, the food was a big dampener and I think at the end of the tournament I will do a quantitative measure of the best viewing experience at all the ground that I visited. From the top of my mind some of the parameters that should be used to define the spectator experience would be ease of entry, seats & view, food availability, toilets, availability of transportation to/from stadium, location and atmosphere inside the stadium. In case I might have missed something that you would consider important do leave a comment and let me know. What did put a smile on my face was this notice just before the entry into the stands. I wonder how many spectators in India have “rectally” abused their guests at cricket ground J
In one of my previous posts about the game vs. England, I had been surprised by the travelling support for the Indian team. The surprise was raised a notch at the Delhi airport on Saturday morning. More than half of the people on a full flight were travelling to Nagpur just to watch the match over the weekend. My friend who was on the Indigo flight the previous evening reported a similar number of people on his flight as well. Flights from Mumbai to Nagpur were all sold out and another friend who was making last minute plans to travel could not get flight tickets. What was even more surprising was the number of women including the not so young moms and aunts, accompanying their kids/nieces/nephews, who were willing to take an early morning flight to watch a full game of cricket at the stadium.

It wasn’t just the upwardly mobile on the planes who made this journey; I was seated next to a father-son farmer duo that had travelled from a village close to Pune via a 15 hour bus journey to take in the action live. In any other setting I doubt I would have found any common ground with them but after a few hours of discussing Sehwag’s lack of footwork, Tendulkar’s straight drives, Dhoni’s lucky captaincy, Nehra and Munaf’s shoddy fielding, we were high-fiving each other at the fall of each South African wicket like long lost neighbours. Cricket truly does unite our diverse country and I can’t think of a better way for the country to celebrate together than with the world cup trophy on the 2nd of April.

PS: Any ideas on how to get tickets for the SF & Final are welcome. If you know anyone who has spare tickets please please put in a word for me, i would be more than willing to pay for the "complimentary" tickets as well.


  1. The VCA stadium does appear to be better designed even from the television..and agree with you abt Dhoni's gut instinct and the stupidity of harping on why Nehra got the ball. Too bad abt the SF and Final tickets..a friend who had applied also didnt make it..

  2. About the tickets, i cant believe they are selling just 1000 tickets for the SF & Final. I guess i will keep cribbing about this for some time to come.
    The Nagpur stadium combined with the Bangalore crowd will make a killer combination, the atmosphere when India wasnt doing too well was quite flat at times.