Interview of Cricket Fans – 70
Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories and how you fell in love with this sport?
My late father was a huge cricketing fan and I guess that’s what grew upon me. Even before I started watching the game, I was aware of Sachin Tendulkar and his exploits in cricket. My first-ever experience of watching cricket was India’s Tour of Pakistan back in 2004. It was a historic series not only because it marked the resumption of the biggest arch rivalry in cricket but also the fact that we produced some great performances. Sehwag’s triple century, Dravid’s double ton, etc. I don’t think anyone wouldn’t have fallen in love with the sport after watching that series. So basically, it was Love at First Sight.
Have you been to a stadium to watch an international match live? If yes, what was the experience like?
Yes, numerous times. The first one was Day Three of Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th Test match. The atmosphere was surreal and hearing that retirement speech LIVE would have brought tears even to the non-cricketing fans. To watch him from so close one last time is a memory I’ll cherish forever. I was also very lucky to witness AB de Villiers scoring a century at Wankhede in the India vs South Africa game in 2015. For a moment, the crowd forgot that ABD was playing for the opposition team. I even got to witness Kohli scoring a double century at Wankhede against England and then another ton against New Zealand though we lost that match. Overall, I had rather prefer watching a cricket game in the stadium because it’s another level of entertainment though I might miss out on plenty of insights we get on television. I also make it a point to watch at least one game from the stadium in every IPL before COVID ruined it for all of us.
Which venue would you love to visit and watch a match?
There are two grounds in the world which is on my bucket list. At the Home of Cricket i.e. Lord’s and MCG. Whenever I visit these countries, I’ll go according to the international cricket calendar. Besides that, Dharamsala is one of the most picturesque stadiums ever and I would be willing to watch a LIVE match there.
How was your experience meeting Anil Kumble?
So this happened when I was working with CricketNext. To share notes with a legend who I have grown up watching was itself unbelievable. We discussed a lot of cricket, ate together and had a great time working, that too twice in two weeks. It took time to sink in and he is a very humble and polite man. Insha Allah that stint was just the start of something significant for the future.
Which player’s posters did you have on your wall as a child?
In my cupboard because mom didn’t allow me to stick posters on the wall. So, I had a huge Sachin Tendulkar cut-out from the newspaper that was constant. The other pictures kept changing from India’s WT20 win to the 2011 World Cup win. The last picture to be there was that of MS Dhoni before the cupboard was taken off.
If a big game is coming up, would you watch it at home or a sports bar?
That’s very easy. I will have to cover the game from my office haha. I prefer watching the matches at home. At any place such as a sports bar, you only enjoy if the team you support is winning plus the commentary isn’t quite clear.
Being a cricket fan, how much does this sport affect your life?
By a drastic way. A good game of cricket especially when India wins lifts up your mood like anything else. Makes you feel very happy with whatever you do. Similarly, a bad game affects your mood. Having said that, I don’t mind India losing a hard-fought game.
Your views on Indian cricket in the present scenario?
I don’t know where to start. Firstly our team selection has been wayward since 2017 especially the way we handled all the middle order problem. Secondly, we continue ignoring talent and backing people who haven’t proved themselves. The way Pant has been handled is quite disheartening. Or Surya being ignored continuously. If we don’t pick players based on their IPL performance in T20Is, what’s the point of having the greatest T20 league at your disposal? Test squad looks good but after what happened in New Zealand, fingers crossed.
Who is your favourite player currently? And why?
I have too many favourites. Rohit Sharma has been on a high pedestal ever since the 2019 World Cup. He is scoring runs consistently and is currently our best bet in the limited-overs. There was a time I disliked him but ever since he started opening, the tables have turned. Another cricketer is Jasprit Bumrah. I very nicely remember him having an unorthodox action back in IPL 2013 and getting Virat Kohli’s wicket. He didn’t bowl with much control back then but to see him transform over the years and becoming one of the greatest in the world is just unbelievable.
How excited are you for the series Down Under?
Very much excited especially the Test series. We defeated them in 2018 but now they have a stronger squad. Also with us being without Virat for a major part of the series, it’s going to be a test of our batting. We bat well, we win the series. Trust our bowlers. Five years back, I may have never imagined saying this. Honestly speaking, I have a bit of fear in mind that we may lose this time but let’s see.
What is your all-time XI?
ODI XI (Players I’ve watched)
Sachin, Rohit, Kohli, ABD, Shakib, Watson, Dhoni (c), Zaheer, Shoaib, McGrath, Muralitharan
Hayden, Amla, Ponting (C), Tendulkar, Lara, Kallis, Gilchrist, Anderson, McGrath, Steyn, Warne
Gayle, Rohit (C), Kohli, ABD, Pollard, Russell, Hardik, Bravo, Rashid, Bumrah, Malinga