April 16, 2004. This is a date many Indian fans shall remember. It was the day our boys finally achieved a Test series victory across the border. Yes we beat our traditional rivals Pakistan for the first time in their own den.
Remember this was not the digital age. There were no cricket apps, not everybody had a cell phone and certainly nobody had an online connection on it. TV and radio were the only ways of keeping tabs on a cricket match.
I had just started my final school year. We had about a month of classes before summer vacations. So obviously the academic pressure was slightly less. Not that it would have mattered, my focus on cricket was unwavering, and when it’s India vs Pakistan, well, need I say more.
Just for the record, before the Rawalpindi Test the series was locked 1-1. After three days of play this is how things stood – Pakistan were 49/2, trailing India by 327 runs. The hosts had made 224 and we had responded with a formidable 600.
It was the peak of summer and Kolkata was unusually hot. Bengali New Year had just been celebrated and it was back to school for me. But even as classes went on, our teachers kept on giving us updates. Wickets were tumbling and we were sure of one thing, this match was not going into Day 5. I am thankful to my teachers for keeping us in the loop, most of them were ardent cricket fans and understood that history was in the making.
School ended, I took the bus home. By God’s grace there was no traffic and I made it in 20 minutes flat. I barged in and Dad said – calm down my boy, 2 wickets in hand and it’s tea time, you won’t miss the end.
Relieved, I changed into house clothes, ate lunch and settled in with a glass of glucose (to beat the heat of course) and started to watch the match.
Then it happened! The last wicket was taken by Sachin Tendulkar and the catch fittingly by skipper Sourav Ganguly. We won by an innings and 131 runs and the series was ours 2-1.
What a moment it was as the team celebrated. I was grateful to have been able to watch it when it happened. Of course while TV channels would be reporting it for the rest of the day, papers would only carry it next morning. Yes, the digital age was yet to come. However, that does not diminish the impact of India’s win. We had beaten Pakistan in Pakistan. Our team was improving, and this only set them on the path to more success.
Why were we so successful? Because our batsmen and bowlers had all clicked and we gelled as a unit. That started consistently on the Australian tour and since then the team never looked back. Ganguly’s captaincy played a big part in that.
This was in 2004. It is now 2018. Ganguly has retired for a decade or so and both the sides have new looks. Since then we toured Pakistan only once in 2006 and lost the Tests 1-0. As for me, well from a teenager I have broken the 30-barrier and am working in a reputed media house, doing what I love best – writing about sports. Dad of course has gone to the happy hunting grounds where I might add some well known cricketing faces are certainly keeping him company – Don Bradman no less.
We now have cricket apps, net on our phones and this is the digital age. But cricket remains the same game, and an India vs Pakistan match is still a war without weapons. Old habits die hard.
News credit : Indiatimes