- To be a fan of the Indian men’s cricket team is a dangerous love affair but one that is extremely gratifying.
On the verge of screaming at the TV for the umpteenth time, I reluctantly leave the couch to grab my second cup of chai of the morning. India is playing Australia in the 2023 Men’s Cricket World Cup final in Ahmedabad. Before the match began, India was heavily favored to win.
The match, however, started on a wobbly note as Australia won the toss and elected to field first. India slowly picked up some steam with the batting of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and K.L Rahul putting up significant figures on the board. Those numbers gave me and Indian fans watching around the world glimmers of hope as Australia began its innings during the second half.
Of course, that hope evaporated quickly as Travis Head entered the room and well, you know the rest. It was as if Head was holding a remote in his gloves and with every boundary he pressed, the volume of the stadium got lower and lower until it was eventually muted. Who knew silence could be so loud? Even watching thousands of miles away, I found it deafening to hear cricket(s) and silent fans at the stadium, an ominous wish Australian captain Pat Cummins confidently voiced pregame.
After a 190+ run partnership and too many Head boundaries to count, it was painful to watch the Australian team storm the field, lift the trophy, and snatch away the victory. A victory that was supposed to be ours. At that moment, a sea of tranquility swept through the stadium and with it, the World Cup trophy sailed away, without the Indian team on board, leaving 1.4 billion dreams drowning.
Backyard cricket made recurrent appearances in my life growing up as a first-generation Indian American. My teenage crush was former player and current head coach Rahul Dravid. His posters were the first I put up loudly and proudly in my college dorm. I started watching cricket when Dravid was at the peak of his career and have come to enjoy the sport, the rise of the T20 format, and the flamboyant play of the more recent, millennial players.
It’s always amusing riding the pendulum of human emotion as a sports fan – the heart and mind swing faster than an electrocardiogram can capture. The losses of a match can rival the lowest, murkiest bowels of the earth but the wins are right up there with the happiest moments of your life. Sunday’s final score felt like a cruel, heart-wrenching loss. I didn’t have any literal skin in the game, but it feels like something personal was stolen from me. I can’t think of anything remotely close that can generate this range of emotion and ecstasy. Perhaps, a love affair?
Over 1.4 billion hearts were broken on Sunday, including mine. To be a fan of the Indian men’s cricket team is a dangerous love affair but one that is extremely gratifying – the highs are scintillating but the lows are enough to leave you hollow and listless. Sunday’s result left me equal parts gutted and heartbroken. Yet, I will continue to choose and support the men in blue a thousand times over. It’s a dangerous love affair but the enthusiasm and fervor of this loyal fan remains. Onwards and upwards.
Ithi Joshi is a lawyer and dancer. Her interests include Ashtanga yoga, autobiographies, and baking desserts. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. @IthiJoshi