Arvind Hari and his wife Kapila are no ordinary cricket fans. The Johannesburg-based third-generation Indians — Kapila’s great grand parents migrated from Gujarat — have been India supporters for the last 17 years and are now friends of several cricketers.
Hari, 48, is a chartered accountant while Kapila, 43, is a doctor. The couple, who have no children, plan their annual holidays two years in advance so that they can watch the Indians in action overseas.
“Growing up during the apartheid era, we had an Indian identity than the South African identity. At that stage, we started supporting India. We have now come to a stage where we are supporting friends rather than a team,” Kapila said.
The couple, who were planning to travel to India to watch the IPL, went instead to Cape Town for the first weekend and are waiting to catch up with friends during games in Johannesburg and Centurion.
The couple has watched India on tours everywhere except for Sri Lanka and New Zealand. The Headingley Test of 2002, the India-Australia ODI in Sharjah 1998 that Sachin Tendulkar won for India, India beating Pakistan in 2003 World Cup are some of their favourite memories.
They have plenty of anecdotes about the players, but won’t carry tales. “Having known the players well, I don’t wish to recount those stories,” said Kapila. The couple does not go to the stadium to watch any visiting team bar the Indians. “It all began from India’s first tour of South Africa in 1992,” said Kapila.
“There is so much cricket that new players become known commodities. We did not know what to expect initially from T20 but after last year's IPL, we are enjoying watching the tournament this time around.”