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October 6, 2010

Samir Chopra

Mixed feelings: A fan's lament

Samir Chopra
VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina and Pragyan Ojha come together in an embrace moments after sealing victory, India v Australia, 1st Test, Mohali, 5th day, October 5, 2010
There is nothing quite like the thrill of close-fought win  © AFP
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So near and yet so far. What a crushing disappointment to flirt with a long-held dream, only to have it cruelly denied. I speak not of Australia's failure to win the Mohali test, nor of Ricky Ponting's inability to win a test in India as captain. I speak, rather of my failure to watch India win a test by one wicket. I've dreamed and dreamed of a day when I would be watching a finish like this go down to the wire (don't ask why I would want to condemn myself to such painful suspense), and last night, I was cruelly denied by a combination of factors. Yes, I know this is a self-indulgent post, but please, indulge me, for I have hopes that my story will resonate with some.

So, as Monday night drew close to midnight on the east coast of the US, I faced a crucial decision. In terms of fandom and the competing calls made on one's time, this was about as critical as it gets. Should I stay up late and watch the match through to the end, or should I just wait for the highlights? Tuesday is a bad day at work for me. My first class meets at 9:30 in the morning, and my third at 6:30 in the evening. The time in-between involves meetings and an hour-long subway commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The telecast was scheduled to begin precisely at midnight, and there was little chance I would be able to pull off my usual "rise-at-5AM-to-watch-the-post-tea session" trick for games played in India. The game would be over, one way or the other, by then.

But I'm not a spring chicken any more, and all-nighters don't come easily - not that they ever did. And the thought of teaching Buddhism on only two hours of sleep filled me with something akin to the unease the young Siddartha might have felt on first being confronted by the sight of infirmity. On the other hand, I did know of an office on campus that I could sneak into for a quick nap during the afternoon. Should I risk it? Stay up till 5, grab two hours of sleep, fuel up on a couple of Americanos and then after powering through the Four Noble Truths, and then Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion at 11, hit the couch for a power nap?

Yes, why not? Tendulkar was still there, Laxman would bat for sure, hope sprang eternal and all that. Perhaps an Indian test win would sustain body and soul through a sleepless day.

So, I bit the bullet, grabbed my laptop, and moved to the kitchen to try and find a bootleg video stream. And that's where my troubles began. For one little detail that I have left out thus far, one considerably complicating detail, was that my live cricket provider had inexplicably failed to secure the rights for this series, and had thus relegated me to feeding off the scraps of illicit video streams, pockmarked with commercials, and marred by poor video quality. I had dealt with these irritations with some equanimity in my early morning sessions, fuelled as I was by six hours of sleep, and some coffee.

But the midnight hours are very different; the body doesn't hold up so well late at night. To make things worse, the network gremlins decided to come to roost in my home. For the nerdy amongst us, my wireless router has persistent DNS problems. Thus, not only was I dealing with a low quality feed, I was dealing with one that was intermittent at best. For two hours, as India moved from 55-4 to 156-8 at lunch, I dealt with it as best as I could, reloading pages, restarting browsers, and restraining myself from slitting my wrists with a butter knife.

But at two in the morning, I gave up. I was tired, I was sleepy, I was worn out. I would not be able to make it through the lunch interval. And the thought of dealing with a full day's teaching on very little sleep, even if supplemented with a short nap, suddenly took on a terrifying hue. Reluctantly, like a boxer agreeing to let his seconds throw in the white towel, I put the machine to sleep and slunk away to bed. My dreams tormented me: I saw green-capped men hugging each other, roaring triumphantly at empty stands, and handing out quick handshakes to crestfallen men with blue caps.

In the morning, I awoke, staggered into the kitchen, and gingerly touched the space bar on the sleeping machine, dreading the result, whatever it was. If Australia had won, a test was a lost. If India had won, I had missed out on watching a close win.

As the result sprang into view, my disappointment that a golden opportunity had been lost, possibly never to be repeated, was tinged with sweet relief. A sportsman that has always commanded my admiration had come through yet again, and in the grander scheme of things, if I had to make a choice, I would always have picked the second option above. So, thank you, Test cricket, for reminding me all over again, why you are the supreme game, bar none.

Please could we have another game like this? But in a better time-zone for me?

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Happy on (April 3, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

Cricket makes a clear distinction beeetwn a tie and a draw, which are two different possible results of a game.A tie is the identical result that occurs when each team has scored the same number of runs after their allotted innings. This is very rare in Test cricket and has happened only twice in its long history, but they are slightly more commonplace in limited-overs matches.A draw is the inconclusive result that occurs when the allotted playing time for the game expires without the teams having completed their innings. This is relatively common, occurring in 20-30% of Test matches. Limited-overs matches cannot be drawn, although they can end with a no result if abandoned because of weather or other factors.Hope you can understand this.

Posted by Anonymous on (October 15, 2010, 8:46 GMT)

hahahahah nice one.

I also had a tormenting dream of green jersy men celebrating and shaking hands with blues

3 balls 1 run required to win, I turned te TV off and went to bed

in the morning, news paper front page had pictures of sehwag celebrating

match was tied and india won on bowlouts :)

Posted by Retaish on (October 8, 2010, 17:41 GMT)

HI Samir, It gladdens my heart to know how people from around the world love my beloved cricket and take pains to see it,on the 5th day i had a guest from abroad,i had to meet him in hotel,when i left home 6 wickets had fallen down ,by the time i reached the hotel i checked on internetscore read 124 for 8 ,i was so disappointed. after talking to my friend for more than hour ,we had to go for lunch,i thought let me check on cricinfo by how many runs india have lost,to my glee ,headline was laxman haldf century keeps india in hunt and on the corner of the screen score read 198 for 8 ,i immediately told my guest to put on the tv and no way i was going to go for lunch at that time.it was nerve racking stuff after that,wen last two runs were scored ,i shouted in happiness,i became very emotional and told my guest its one of the best days in my life,and the guest, would you beleive was an AUSSIE,to his credit he was very sporting.lers hope buddy bangalore provides same kind of drama.

Posted by Raj Datta on (October 8, 2010, 17:01 GMT)

This was a strange match for me. Every time I surfed over to Cricinfo, India lost a wicket or dropped a catch. I mean EVERY time. I must have caused at least 12 Indian wickets to fall :-P

Including that of Sachin, on the 5th day at 2 am my time (or it seemed that late anyway)... I hurriedly closed that Firefox tab, and got some work done, browsed idly on every news site, careful not to read any cricket related news. I couldn't bring myself to go back till the match was safely over .. (I thought) .. only to see that Johnson had hurled one down leg. Only just .. if I had clicked on Cricinfo 45 seconds earlier, I have no doubt ol' Mitch would have pinned Ojha in his crease with an yorker on leg, and India would have tied with Australia a 2nd time.

Posted by Chandra on (October 8, 2010, 16:13 GMT)

Almost lost my job watching my favorite batsman an fellow Hyderabadi...as i spent the night watching the match....BTW I am in US time.....but i am craving for a repeat of Mohali...QUALITY cricket, be it T20 / ODI / TEST is always great to watch but only TEST Cricket has the ability to produce quality cricket...again depends on what Quality Cricket means to you....

Posted by Rajiv Naik on (October 8, 2010, 16:12 GMT)

For anyone who's read all the comments above, this is bound to feel repetitive, but considering that the Senior Counsel who was arguing for the other side in an arbitration kept everybody including the Arbitrator, a retired Supreme Court judge, waiting to watch the end, was worth the experience! I of course have renewed respect for him for i dutifully followed him outside the room to watch it on a tv screen in the dining area of the gymkhana we were at! When Ojha scored those winning runs it was all i could do to keep from jumping around in joy! What a match and what a man, VVS.

Posted by Aditya on (October 8, 2010, 15:19 GMT)

Gr8 to see that there are so mant lovers of true cricket and that too across the globe.

Posted by ravi kumar on (October 8, 2010, 9:35 GMT)

Samir, you wanted this story to resonate with some and see how many you found... and let me tell u there are lot more of them who have read this and felt resonated but just didn't find enough time to type it in so many words...but it's amazing what a match like this does to cricket lovers all over the world...I saw quite a few youngsters (the T20 brigade) who loved this match as much as I loved it..what a great advertisement for test cricket...and Samir love your articles ...keep them coming... Cheers Ravi Kumar

Posted by Kunal Talgeri on (October 8, 2010, 6:15 GMT)

Hey Samir, a nice and nerdy perspective. :-) Just to re-live one of the wonderful finishing moments for you, I live in Bangalore, and got a call to rush to a TV-screen when 6 runs were needed with 1 wicket in hand. The tension was heightening, and everybody was prone to errors: Laxman's runner, non-striker Ojha, the umpires, commentators--and even the Aussies! When Ojha erred in taking a single, Laxman scolded him in such an animated manner that everybody in our TV room (in office) was in splits. It relieved the tension somewhat, and we watched VVS complete another lovely memory against the Aussies. As long as he plays Test cricket, I am sure we can continue to have more Mohalis. :-) After all, the Indian team has held their nerve against the Aussies since his Sydney innings of 2000. Whatta player!

Posted by Bapi Raju Nanduri on (October 7, 2010, 21:02 GMT)

Hi Samir, Had a feeling that it was gonna be a close finish by the end 4th day but I shud say that being in India has not helped either.. The reason the power outage that happened across some parts of India had to happen exactly when the match was happening... And as any cricket lover I had to use my cellphone to log into cricinfo and keep refreshing the scorecard evry 30 seconds or so to know wat happened and jus as the match was reaching a thrilling climax the inevitable happened, the server crashed and I was left looking at a score which read India 205/9 still requires 11 runs for victory.. Ishant got out and I didn't know how.. Tried refreshing it but still the same score, got nervous and tensed, called up friends frantically in the end only to c the current come back on after another 30 mins and Ravi Shastri giving away the MOM the award to Zak... I'd like to appeal to the teams to give us another Test match which goes like this and I promise this time I'll watch it at a Pub..;)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

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