Rain breaks are a nuisance during Tests but on Friday, a small posse of Indian journalists at the Queen’s Park Oval didn’t mind. Even if there had been any cricket, it would have taken a backseat to the girl from Hyderabad.
Thankfully, one was saved from making the choice when news arrived that the outfield hadn’t dried up enough for the second day’s play to start at 9.30 am local time. There was no overnight rain in Port of Spain but like this ground takes longer time to be playable. Good, we thought. With the first inspection postponed to 10.30 am, we were allowed all the time needed to bite our nails away for badminton.
Live streaming sites were hunted out, laptops were set up well before the match was about to start. There were a few nervous faces, some anxious ones while few played cool. Random thoughts flooded our mind. Carolina Marin is a machine. PV Sindhu is just coming up. She might just lose. But what if she doesn’t? We expected a fight though. And she didn’t let us down. Even Sanjay Manjrekar came down from the commentary box when he heard someone in the press box had found out a live streaming site. He didn’t move after that.
As long as Sindhu kept her smashes going, making Marin play on her feet, our hopes were floating. There were sighs when it ended but it quickly turned into a quiet applause. For a brief moment, we were united with the nation in saluting a talent and wondering what if we had not been as biased towards cricket.
Find the last line too good to believe? Maybe. But for us cricket reporters, this was the one of the few fan moments allowed to us in the last fortnight. As cricket journalists, we shouldn’t celebrate India’s wins. So when the whole country erupted on April 2, 2011 some of us just shook hands, bit our lips and held back tears of joy.
The emotions we can’t show in cricket are put in the bank for moments like these. Long tours, especially a one-sided one like this, can make one feel lonely, blunt the brain with the demand to churn out the same copy with different angles. India’s way better. Hence they are winning. That should have been end of story.
Since there was no cricket on Independence Day, we couldn’t even sing the national anthem together. The Olympics saved us. Rather, our girls. Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik and now Sindhu have made this tour memorable. August 19 was the day India won silver. For a few of us, it was also the day cricket made way for badminton.