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Understanding Mr Patel?s angst

This is terrible, announced the gent on my right, expressing his opinion loudly. The comment came from Mr Patel, originally from Mehsana, Gujarat, now a resident of Melbourne but presently seated in the Clem Hill stand at Adelaide. Clearly, Mr Patel was dissatisfied with the performance of Indian bowlers.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2003 01:23 IST

This is terrible, announced the gent on my right, expressing his opinion loudly.

The comment came from Mr Patel, originally from Mehsana, Gujarat, now a resident of Melbourne but presently seated in the Clem Hill stand at Adelaide. Clearly, Mr Patel was dissatisfied with the performance of Indian bowlers.

He passed strictures against the quicks, his criticism so severe that he refused to make allowances even for Irfan Pathan, who happens to be from his state and playing his first Test.

Arre bhai, yeh kya? he asked when I defended the team, pointing to the friendly batting wicket.

Mr Patel rejected my arguments with one telling comment: Theek hai, he said. Ponting can make a double hundred. But why must we make Gillespie look like Gavaskar?

This, I admit, is difficult to answer but after Mr Patel had had more drinks than the wickets taken by India, and he narrated his life history, I developed a sounder understanding of the mind of overseas Indian cricket supporters.

Here was a fan who went to great lengths for cricket - he absented himself from work, temporarily sacrificed the comforts of home (and deserted his Mrs and kids) in the hope of watching Indian batsmen slam the Aussies.

Passion is fine but it also costs money because hotel and travel is expensive. And to that add the sundries — expense of buying Indian team replica shirt and Indian flag (from the shop at the corner of Rundle and Hindley street), payment for getting tricolour painted on face (just outside Victor Richardson gates, for 10 dollars).

But cost is a minor matter, Indian fans desperately want India to do well, for them the issue is of Mera Bharat Mahan, of asserting national identity.

Australia is multi racial (buses and trains have signs in Japanese and Chinese) and tolerant, but at the end of the day, it is a fragile existence for outsiders.

That's why, when Ganguly scores a hundred, Indians grow in size but an ordinary performance causes them to shrink. Often, anger and disappointment is expressed in offensive and abusive comment.

Players are wrongly criticised for being too rich/too lazy/too spoilt. But when Australia batted on a good track against bowling that was unthreatening, we were always up against it. It is unlikely that Kartik would have made a difference , nor would the performance have improved if Waugh and Mark Taylor, together, were captaining India.

Commented a tired Indian player: When the ball is not in the right place you feel the fielders are standing in the wrong place.

First Published: Dec 14, 2003 01:23 IST