The other day I got a visit from two of my friends wanting to know if I was willing to play a cricket match against the Chakma team from Naraina.
I agreed to play if my neck allowed me (I was having pain in the neck due to wrong sleeping posture).
Sunday, the 29th June 2008 came. I was waiting for a phone call from my friend Tejang to know if the match would be held. Till 7-30 in the morning, he did not ring me. And I thought the match must have stood cancelled due to lack of players till I got another call from him ten minutes later.
We reached the play ground, a park in Janakpuri where the Chakma boys were already practicing. I saw three other teams playing on their own pitches. No one fought for space.
The game was about to begin. The players were counted. No team could not bring 11 each. The Naraina team was one short, and we were one more. So we generously lent Mukul, who is a good player to the opposition team. We made 8 in each team.
Each inning was decided at 15 overs.
The coin was tossed and our team was asked to bat first. To my surprise, I was asked to open. I murmured a few words saying to myself I had no experience to bat first.
I have not played cricket for the last five years which stole the practice out of me. In school, I had played the game. Occasionally, we also used to take the field in the village (when I went during long holidays after end of examinations).
Yet, I think I did fairly well hitting the ball off the fence at least two times. I also picked up some singles. But mostly my bat was missing the ball due to lack of practice.
Many players of my team did wonderfully with the bat. Tejang scored most individual runs with several master strokes.
We set a target of 121 before the opposition at the end of 15 overs.
The opposition made a bad start but they managed to recover in the end when they made most of the runs. At a point of time, we thought they were going to win until the last wicket fell. The wicket keeper caught my good friend Ranjoy behind the stumps and appealed for his dismissal. The bowler and other players appealed too. It seemed the ball hit the bat by a fraction. But there was no third empire or a possibility of a reply. It could have been a controversial dismissal, but Ranjay, a gentleman that he is, nodded his head in approval even before the empire pronounced his decision.
The opposition were short of 4 runs.
We celebrated our win. Took a rest. The opposition captain handed over the prize money (Match fee of Rs 50 by each player) to our captain. All of us held a discussion regarding the modalities for holding another match. Another cricket match was fixed.
We shook hands and departed.
The winning team (we also brought “our man” Mukul with us) gathered in a room. It’s time for celebration.
In the celebration room, captain Victor handed over the man of the match trophy (a bottle of beer Haywards 50000) to Tejang and everybody cheered for him. As a show of kind gesture to me, I was given the second beer bottle, my trophy as best debutant, although no such trophy might have existed in the game of cricket.
In the glee, we discussed how our bowling was awfully bad. 30% of the total runs were conceded by our bowlers through wide and no balls.
But no one criticized anyone. It was a game played simply to derive fun.
The Chakmas are a small, marginalized community in this planet. The losing side had not the slight feeling of dejection. It was partly because everybody of us was silently aware of the social importance attached to a cricket match such as this one.
Personally, I derived the greatest satisfaction although the next day my entire body was aching. Many cricket matches have been played by the Chakmas in Delhi grounds but this was the first time I participated.