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The Day the Earth stood still

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1996 was year that marked my generations tryst with cricket. Kirsten’s 188; Jayasurya’s revelations; Indo/Pak Q/F; the Eden heartbreak. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions. It had all, save the Heroic ending. The script seemed flawed; a job left unfinished.

Post ’98 Sharjah exploits, the team fell apart under the match fixing allegations. We were no longer a force in the world cricket. Two of the most controversial figures of Indian cricketing history the Raja and the Senapati fell and gave way to yet another controversial figure of all times. Though his were the controversies we took pride in.

Eden curse was cured by a Lanky personality who gave us reasons to be proud of. The high moon, the tide, the ebbs, the flows all became but adjectives when the cricketing history was re-written. A giant was born. The journey culminated in Jo ’burg when the mighty batting lineup was but a step away from laying its claim.

Albeit, that was not to be. Undone by a legend from down under, it paved way to of one of the most hate-filled cricketing rivalry. The Sydney fiasco was just waiting to happen. It turned out to be the Pearl Harbor of Indian cricket. We have never looked back since. The zeal, the aggression, the will has never been higher. Post 3 IPL’s, high dose of Indo-SL matches and a resurrection of The God of Cricket, it’s time to cross the final hurdle.

The SF match between Indo-Pak, was the most anticipated and followed match in the history of cricket. Everything was to its maximum. Imagine anti-aircraft guns around the stadium! I travelled from Mumbai to Pune to celebrate the festival with friends. With Holi/Diwali/Ganesh Pooja being celebrated with varying vigor across the country, the festival of cricket is the only one which whole nation celebrates equally.

The scenes I saw in Pune were unparalleled. The roads were jammed post the win. I could see thousands of bikes/cars/tempo/buses parading round the city. Flags/colors/sweets aplenty. The whole city was one. It was the day for no hatred.

On field/off field the camaraderie between the two nations was a sight to behold. The old sins were washed off. The 26/11 seemed a distant memory. One match turned the hostile relations between two nations onto its head, into Aman Ki Fuhaar.

My feet were trembling and emotions flowing unrestrained. It was day when 1/5th of humanity gasped in unison, It was a day when the Earth stood still.

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