Cricket fever in South Asia reached its zenith this Saturday with two host nations from the region entering the final of the World Cup. The excitement was palpable in Nepal too.
Like other nations of the sub-continent, Nepal, which is trying to become an associate/affiliate member of International Cricket Council, also has its share of cricket fanatics.
World cup matches were shown live on cinema screens and cashing in on the 14-hour daily power cuts, restaurants and bars screened matches live to cricket hungry fans.
As Nepal’s neighbour and one that shares strong social, religious and historical ties, it would be natural to expect that Nepali cricket fans would root for India. But that was not usually the case.
As India fought with Ponting’s men in Motera for a place in the semi-finals many in Kathmandu were glued to their TV sets rooting for the men from Down Under.
Similar was the case with the high-profile semi-final with Pakistan at Mohali. And when the two teams were engaged in a tussle for the prestigious trophy in Mumbai, many here were betting on a loss for the men in blue.
A Nepali journalist friend posted this question on Facebook. “Why most Nepali sports fans don’t support the Indian cricket team?” That’s one question I too was interested in knowing the answer of.
Blaming India for Nepal’s ills, someone posted that he hated Dhoni’s men as they disrespect all other teams. Another surmised that it was because most Nepalis want to express solidarity with the losing side.
“Sri Lankan lions will win. Indian team will rest in peace,” wrote a third. Many more wished defeat for the ‘dhotis’, a slang used for Indians. As India erupted in celebrations once Mahi hit the winning six, the silence in Kathmandu was deafening. Thanking cricketing gods for silencing critics and Nepal Electricity Authority for uninterrupted power supply, I put my questions to rest and drifted to blissful slumber.