Kolkata: Like millions of others in this country, I was brought up on cricket. I went to a boarding school, where the only sport I ever took to with my heart was cricket. I remember days when Delhi used to burn at 46 degrees, yet our afternoon routine of 2 good hours of cricket was never ever skipped. This continued through college, where we played cricket in corridors, in out hostel lawns, in the college grounds, even in the common room with table tennis balls and raquets
Cricket was also something we followed religiously on TV. In school, those opportunies were few and far between. I remember those times, the 90's, when we were losing more than we were winning, and when any victory for the team was cherished for a long long time. I particularly remember the match in Dhaka, when we beat Pakistan in a really tight match. It was out sports day, we were about to begin a march past, when we heard than Hrishikesh Kanitkar had had got us a victory. March past promptly forgotten, we celebrated for a good 15 minutes, and for once in his life, our very strict principal did not kick our behinds for doing so!!
But these were also the years of heartbreak. Years when one man, Sachin Tendulkar, carried the burden of expectations of a million countrymen, including us kids, who were willing to go to any extent to defend him, time after time. I still remember one instance in college, when I picked up an iron rod and almost smashed the head of a very good friend of mine, who kept on insisting that Tendulkar's performances rarely helped the team, and that he always played for individual glory, and that he never performed in big matches.