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Diary of an Indian Fan - 4th Edition

Last updated on 30 Oct 2023 | 12:52 PM
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Diary of an Indian Fan - 4th Edition

The one where Afghan fans helped us learn something more about our favourite sport

Nine flights, eight FanCams, and five cities later, the World Cup fever has well and truly set in. Everywhere we went, we came across people - Indian and otherwise - looking forward to their upcoming games. With skeptics of the format, myself included, reaching an all time high, this was just the antidote to shut us up. 

The last week saw quite a few unlikely results. Afghanistan beating Pakistan, Sri Lanka humbling England, and Netherlands routing Bangladesh. We were fortunate enough to have done a FanCam for two of the above three fixtures. 

The first of these games happened at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, which saw Afghanistan record their first ever win against Pakistan in ODIs. That it came just a week after their first ever ODI win against England made it all the more sweeter.

We came across a bunch of ecstatic Afghan fans who were celebrating it as if they had lifted the cup. Most of these fans weren’t interested in talking about the game. Instead, they had only one thing to say. 

“Come to Gate No. 4”

We also bolted towards the said gate, wondering why we were being told off by all of them in unison.

We weren’t going to die wondering, for we saw that all the fans had congregated around the gate to catch a glimpse of their players, and try to celebrate this win with their heroes. Thanks to this advice, our FanCam made for really colorful viewing.

After finally catching hold of some of these folks in front of the camera, we realized why this win meant so much to them. The rivalry had taken a bit of an ugly turn last year, as fans resorted to some fist fighting after Pakistan narrowly went past Afghanistan in Sharjah in last year’s Asia Cup. 

“This win is bigger than winning the World Cup.”

Not sure if a neutral fan would agree with his statement, should the Afghan team had to travel to Ahmedabad on the 19th of November. But we knew better than to just question the statement.

Another of them thanked all the players for making them proud, and for giving them so much happiness at such a difficult time. He also went on to vividly describe how people would be celebrating back home in Kabul. 

Right after that, we met another Afghan fan. And when asked about his whereabouts, he mentioned his residence is in Bangalore - not something we were expecting. However, he threw a bigger googly at us when he spoke to us in Kannada, or whatever little he knew of it. 

He went on to thank Indian fans for supporting them like their own, and for providing such a great atmosphere for them to openly celebrate their win. 

Having favored Mumbai’s maidans over Bangalore in the last edition, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this time.

We returned to Bangalore, and as usual, I was busy appreciating the cool breeze. 

Having probably overheard our conversation, he went on to ask me in Kannada,

Are you a cricketer, Sir?

A bit flattered by it, I continued my disagreement by saying what I actually did. Hoping that at least that would help me retain the pedestal he’d mounted me on. 

When asked about his interest in cricket, it seemed like the quiet driver’s switch had been turned on. He spoke straight about his interest in cricket, his love for RCB and, consequently, Virat Kohli. 

He deserved a century in the last game, Anna!

The change of salutation indicating his increased comfort in the conversation. 

Why did they even catch that? It’s not like they could have won it from there.

Having thrown rationality out of the window, I could see what 15 years of supporting RCB could do to someone.

Do you think we will win the next IPL?

Ahh, one of life’s unsolved mysteries. 

Anyways, having conveniently moved on from the World Cup while we are midway through the tournament. But it did make me wonder about the oddities of sport. 

If the Afghan win was proof of what sport can do to you, and to be honest - the possibilities are endless. 

Sport can galvanize people, provide relief to people at difficult times, and also help people assimilate better in different settings.

Sure, people can talk about the increased tribalism that’s being seen in the world of sport, but that’s a compromise worth making, if this is the consequence. 

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