A fan is overjoyed and overwhelmed at seeing his childhood cricketing heroes playing together in New York
Sheikh Minhaj Hossain
Choice of game
There is a famous quote which ends the Brad Pitt movie "Troy". It says, "Men rise and fall like the winter wheat but these men will never die." As I passed my childhood by watching 90s cricket players, I want to change the quote of Troy to: "I lived in the time of Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Wasim Akram and many more and these men will never fade away!"
I had goosebumps when I first heard that all the cricket stars of last 25 years who have retired from the game will be playing together in a match, and that too in the United States! For a cricket lover like me this is like a fairytale to even think of. But with the leadership of Sachin and Warne, all these stars turned this fairytale into a reality. This is the time when we could watch Sachin vs Wasim, Lara vs Warne, Shoaib vs Ponting again! All these years we could only imagine a dream scenario where two greatest legends of the game Lara and Tendulkar would be batting together on the same pitch! And Cricket All-Star 2015 made this possible.
Before the match, I didn't have any prediction for a win. But I thought that the match would be competitive. Although it looks like that Sachin's Blasters are stronger on paper but players like Ponting, Kallis, Sangakkara from Warne's Warriors would make any day tough for the opponents. I was just there to enjoy the show, not thinking much about the win-loss scenario.
About the series, I would be very happy if both the teams could share the trophy. As Warne's Warriors won the first game, I deeply want Sachin Blasters to win the second match. And the third match will end up in a tie! This series cannot be valued by a trophy. This is beyond that.
Shane Warne should be considered as the key performer of this match. The way Sehwag and Sachin started Basters' innings, they could easily get to a total of 200. But Shane dismissed Sachin, Lara and Laxman, and Blasters were bundled out for 140 runs. The underestimated bowler in this match was Vettori. He bowled all four overs and gave only 13 runs with the precious wicket of Sehwag. Sangakkara and Ponting built a partnership to give Warriors a real chance of winning.
Things I'd have changed about the match
All the people in the crowd were waiting for Lara to come and bat with Sachin Tendulkar. When Sehwag was hitting fours and sixes for Blasters, even some Indian fans in the gallery were discussing that Sehwag should retire hurt after completing his half-century and Lara should come to bat with Sachin. That would be a dream moment. But Sachin got out to an astonishing flying catch by Kallis and the scorecard looked like "Tendulkar c Kallis b Warne"! You never can have such precious one-liner in the scoreboard!
One more thing I would like to change is the size and shape of the field. A baseball field can never be as good as a cricket field. Some of the sixes hit by both teams' players could easily be caught if the ground was slightly bigger.
One of the most incredible experience at the match was the mentality and emotion of Indian people towards Sachin Tendulkar. I always heard of it, but never experienced it myself. In this match I witnessed Indians' love for Sachin in front of my eyes. One example can describe this scenario: before the match, I saw a booth from one of the sponsor companies which was providing a big, white placard to write on. I was standing in the line to write something like "Reminisces of Childhood" and around 10 Indian people were standing in front of me, writing different placards. They were from different groups but all of them had written one common word. That was "GOD"! All of them were calling Sachin Tendulkar the GOD! Someone was writing "Thank you GOD for bringing cricket to America", while other people were writing that famous dialogue, "Cricket is our religion and Sachin is our GOD".
Yes, if you never experienced this in person, I promise you this is completely different and unbelievable! The whole stadium was chanting "Sachin, Sachin" almost all the time. But the biggest cheer was heard when he came in to bowl the 18th over. The whole crowd went crazy! They knew that they are going to lose the match but still chanting the name of Sachin!
Honestly, I never had the experience to watch a match live in India with Indian crowd before. But today in presence of most of the Indian crowd, I understood how they treat Sachin. They really worship him like GOD!
Also when Shoaib Akhtar came in to bowl and bowled those deadly bouncers to Kallis and Rhodes, an Indian, who was standing beside me said, "It seems like Shoaib Akhtar is still the fastest bowler of the world! Is he still faster than Steyn, Johnson etc?" Well, I hardly had any doubt about that after watching those lethal bouncers. People were chanting "Shoaib, Shoaib" when he was bowling. Definitely those bouncers from Shoaib were a huge surprise for the whole crowd! Nobody expected this pace from him. Beside that there were chanting for "Viru" when he was in full form and hitting Walsh and Donald out of the park!
One of the best parts of this game was not having cheerleaders! Cricket never needed any cheerleaders when these legends were playing. The main attraction of cricket is to create the battle of bat and ball on the field. These legends made sure that their play is more enjoyable than cheerleaders' dance! They were and they are still successful.
And last but not the least was the Mexican Wave! This is something which crowd enjoys for pure entertainment. And we did it too in the gallery.
Banner of the day
One of the crowd changed the famous saying "God bless America" to "Sachin GOD blessed America!" Genius!
Shot of the day
I'm not going to pick only shots from batsmen. I think some 'shot' can be created by bowlers too! In the death overs Akram bowled some beautiful swinging slower yorkers. We were mesmerised after watching this. We were also thrilled to watch Ponting's hook again. When he hooked Shoaib Akhtar on the last ball of his spell, that special shot reminded me that he is one of the greatest hooker/puller of the history of cricket! And Jonty Rhodes reminded his trademark reverse sweep to finish the match!
There were many wonderful moments in the gallery and on the field. The moment when Sachin and Sehwag were taking guard and Wasim Akram was waiting to run in to bowl was awesome. We all had a thrill, excitement to begin the dream. The famous movie "Back to the future 2" was celebrated on 21st October 2015. This match is like a real version of "Back to the future" movie in the USA. It is like we all have a time machine on which we are riding and going back to the past to watch that surreal scene again.
When the match was about to start, the feelings we were having cannot be described by words! This was surreal and the atmosphere was absolutely unbelievable! I saw a number of people were in tears when they saw these players in front of their eyes, playing together after many years. I myself also got deeply emotional by thinking about all of the most precious cricketing moments of childhood. The experience of that moment can only be felt by a hardcore cricket lover who loves cricket wholeheartedly. Overall the organising capabilities were superb. Everything was electrifying! I enjoyed each and every moment thoroughly.
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Sheikh Minhaj Hossain is a crazy cricket lover who doesn't even miss a single Test match sitting in the United States. . Although he works in the Bio-Chemical sector, his life time dream is to do something associated with cricket.