Interview of Cricket Fans – 72

Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories and how you fell in love with this sport.

My early memories with Cricket date back to when I was 10! I’m 19 now.
As cliche as this may sound, my father has always been my biggest inspiration. He’s always been a die-hard Cricket fanatic and seeing him come home from work just to glare into a TV screen watching a guy swing his bat for 3 hours straight irritated the 10-year-old attention seeker in me so much so, that I was left with no choice but to join him in his obsession. I’ve never looked back since!

My earliest memory with Cricket would have to be the 2011 World Cup Final. It had been roughly a year since I started following the sport so my knowledge about it was perhaps, tender but my excitement was always a 100% up there! I live in Dubai and the Cricket following here is massive, really massive. I vividly remember the absolute carnival that took over the streets as Dhoni smacked THAT winning six. It was madness. I can even recite Ravi Shastri’s commentary in those moments, word for word. I mean, who cannot?

It was then, that my liking towards Cricket took a turn towards love for it. A love so deep, that I have skipped school on every day that India has played a match, whether Bilateral or an ICC Tournament.
I soon started my own school Girl’s U-18 Cricket Team which I captained too!

Cricket transforms me into a parallel universe where there exists no negativity and just pure peace. It’s my soul food.

Were you fortunate enough to watch an international match live in a stadium? If yes, what was the experience like?

I’m so glad you asked this question! I’ve watched several matches live including last year’s Asia Cup match between India and Pakistan which like many occasions, turned out to be a one-sided affair. The Asia Cup final though, between India and Bangladesh was a last-ball thriller and let me just say, my heart had never raced that quick. It was a surreal experience.

However, my most memorable experience has to be the ICC World T20 in 2016.
As soon as I heard India would host the tournament, I began pestering my parents to plan a trip to India so we could watch the semi-finals live. I had no idea that India would make it to the Semi’s before the tournament, so why was I so hell-bent on watching the Semi’s live? To this day, I’m unsure. My gut feel about watching the Men in Blue play the semis was so strong, that I did not bother worrying about the outcome of the matches. I just knew India would make it. So after 3 months of constant begging, my parents finally agreed and scheduled a 2 week trip to Bombay. We booked tickets for Semi-Final 2 at Wankhede Stadium and let me just say, words could not express my excitement. It was all I could think and dream about. A day after we landed was when THAT historic India vs Bangladesh match took place. A match we HAD to win to have a shot at the Semi-Finals. A match where India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in THAT historic last over. To me, it was almost like God’s doing. There was no way I dreamt of watching my team play live for the longest time only to travel so far and watch them lose on screen. It just could not be! I was elated.

Then came the next match vs Australia that decided the Semi-Finalist. A match we could not afford to lose. And again, it felt like God’s doing. We snatched victory from the jaws of defeat yet again. Virat Kohli’s masterclass of a chase bamboozled the Aussies. He chased down 36 runs in 14 balls and fell to his knees as I was weeping tears of happiness and relief. Relief knowing that I will finally get to watch my Men in Blue play a WT20 Semi-Final at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

The match obviously did not go our way. I was heartbroken and did leave the stadium in tears. But I couldn’t help but be grateful for having witnessed such a fantastic display of Cricket. A VK special with that 91*, A first-ball wicket by VK, Bumrah’s express in-swing yorker to dismiss the Universe Boss, and the storm that was Lendl Simmons. But, it was meant to be. Meant to be so I could at-least watch my team play live!

It was truly an experience I can go on talking about for days on end.

Who is your favourite Indian cricketer currently, and why?

My generation of fans have grown up watching Virat Kohli and I having closely witnessed his journey to this level of world domination has been so wonderful. People always assume I love Kohli because I’m a girl and “every girl loves him” but to be extremely honest, it’s not that. It’s deeper than that. I’m a fan of him because of his cricket. His brand of cricket. His passion for the game. His drive and determination is unmatched and it shows on the field. He possesses a clear cricketing mind and when in full flow, is unstoppable. Yes, he’s had his ups and downs but his comebacks have been so much stronger. The aggression he fuels into the persona of the team is a treat to watch for a fan like me. He’s one of the best in the business today and I really look forward to watching him dominate world cricket to greater heights.

Who is your favourite women’s cricketer?

Another Jersey #18! Smriti Mandhana’s consistent display of talent, grit and pure passion is what makes her such a treat to watch! She has a flair with the bat and that’s helped her achieve such extraordinary cricketing heights. I admire her because, in a time where the heavy spotlight on the Men’s game has made it difficult for women to be considered as cricketers of their own identities and merit, Smriti Mandhana battled this prejudice with such composure. She’s an ideal role model for young girls who love Cricket!

Which format of the game do you prefer watching and why?

I’ll be honest, all three. Each format comes with its perks and challenges and that’s what makes Cricket so enjoyable for me. T20 is perfect for an entertaining evening, ODI’s are basically an excuse to stay in bed and really savour a whole day’s play and Test matches are the ultimate fun. It tests temperament, character, strategy and grit and exposes a player’s weak spot and challenges them to overcome it.

Your views on Mankad?

Simple. If it’s in the rule-book, it should be permitted if performed. However, I don’t encourage it to be performed too occasionally. It speaks volumes about the desperation the bowler is in, which takes away from the whole challenge!

Your views on the ICC Test Championship and ODI Championship?

I feel the Test Championship is a great step towards bringing back the excitement and love for test cricket and adds a purpose or goal for teams to play for which was missing before, so I think it’s a great opportunity to increase young interest in the Test format and to keep it alive!

Thoughts on this year’s IPL?

I’m a die-hard RCB supporter so this was probably the best season for me since 2016! Overall, this IPL was one of the most entertaining seasons. It helped uplift moods in a time where days are monotonous and the word “pandemic” is heard at least once a day. Every team was as competitive as the other as nobody gave up until the very end which was good to see. Every team had at least 12 points which has never happened before!
It was great to see a lot of upcoming domestic talent perform so great at such a valuable platform, it shows that Indian Cricket is headed in the right direction. So much talent to look out for! From Devdutt Padikkal to Riyan Parag to Ruturaj Gaikwad! It was so nice to see.
My most memorable match this season would have to be the double super over game between KXIP and MI. What madness! Such great display of cricket.

Your thoughts on the new rules by BBL?

I have mixed feelings about it. I do agree with Shane Watson though; he recently said in an interview that it is a “misguided attempt to reinvigorate the tournament” with such gimmicks. Why reinvent the wheel when the wheel was not broken?
Such experiments can go either way and is too risky to implement when has not been tried or tested. However, I do see it as an attempt to boost viewership and following as the Power Surge and X-Factor Player rules add a power-packed element to the game that could really solve some possible T20 issues teams face. It looks like a 50/50 move to me depending on how well executed it is. Let’s see.

Your all-time XI?

Sachin Tendulkar
Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli
Mahela Jayawardene
AB De Villiers
MS Dhoni (wk C)
Ben Stokes
Shane Warne
Jofra Archer
Mitchell Starc
Jasprit Bumrah
(12th Man: Kumar Sangakkara)

V Sehwag
Mathew Hayden
Virat Kohli
Sachin Tendulkar
Kumar Sangakkara (wk C)
Mahela Jayawardene (or place him higher too)
Glenn McGrath
Wasim Akram
Pat Cummins
Shane Warne
Ravichandran Ashwin
(12th Man: Mohd. Amir)

Rohit Sharma (R) (c)
David Warner (L)
Babar Azam
Virat Kohli
ABD (wk)
Kieron Pollard
Hardik Pandya
Rashid Khan
Jofra Archer
Jasprit Bumrah
Yuzvendra Chahal
(12th Man: Kane Williamson)

Thank you for this comment on my previous post.

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