Last week, on the opposite side of the planet, a world-class sporting event captured the attention of more than two billion viewers, one-third of Earth’s population.
It has been called the fourth-largest sport competition, rivaling the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in terms of popularity. The 2011 Cricket World Cup brought cheers of victory and tears of defeat to every continent for nearly a month and a half this spring.
At Tech, the scene was no different. Dedicated fans packed the inside of the Student Center in the early hours of the morning to watch two cricket super powers, India and Pakistan, wrestle for the chance to reach the Finals.
The TV area under the Student Center stairs was crowded with screaming supporters wall to wall. It is surprising that they did not wake up the entire campus.
Though thousands of miles away from their home countries, students still excitedly waved their banners and cheered for their respective teams.
“The passion for cricket in India is intense. It’s just as, or even more popular, there than football is in America,” said Anant Agarwal, a second-year CS major.
Cricket was first started in England, where it was so beloved it became the national sport. Through colonization the game spread across the globe. Today, Southeast Asia holds the largest cricket contenders with the most passionate fans.
Since 1976, the Cricket World Cup has captivated millions in its high-intensity, high-risk and winner-takes-all elimination tournament.
More than just a score, the games constitute a country’s pride, and no prize means more than the title of World Champion.
After India won the semi-finals by 29 runs, they faced the powerhouse Sri Lanka in the Final. Tensions were high, and fans held their breath as the two teams viciously fought.
“It was great to see India’s strong team progress through the tournament. We have several veterans, and it was satisfying to see an Indian victory before they retire,” said Jaydeep Srimani, a fourth-year ECE major.
India did indeed claim victory on April 2 with a lead of six wickets. In laymen’s terms, India batted last and beat Sri Lanka’s score with six out of 10 people still left to bat.
For some at Tech it was their first time watching a game of cricket.
“I think it’s a cool sport. It’s a little long for my taste, mostly because American sports are much shorter in comparison. But I had fun because I watched it will all my friends,” said Gabriel Rodriguez, a first-year IE major.
If you did not watch a cricket match for the first time then you certainly knew someone who was listing statistics or following scores on their laptop in lecture.
The “cricket craze” was somewhat of a cultural phenomenon at Tech, truly unique to the campus.
It was an experience for both active followers and regular students.
“After watching I think it’d actually be fun to play,” said Christo Carscallen, a first-year IE major.
However, due to differences in time zones, many games had to be watched late at night or very early in the morning on the East Coast.
“I know people who woke up at four in the morning to watch the games, I don’t think I could do that for a sport,“ said Sonja Solomon, a first-year PTFE major.
However, other students felt the exact opposite.
“My roommate once woke up in the early morning to watch Wimbledon tennis matches; there are a lot of people who are crazy about any sport, not just cricket,” said Steve Hooper, a first-year PHYS major.
Regardless of who or where someone is, a sports fan is a sports fan. Any world competition is worth sacrificing sleep, especially one that occurs once every four years.
Unfortunately, most students will not be at Tech for another World Cricket Cup (that is unless they become a super-senior).
In the meantime, many are proud of India’s title as 2011 World Cup winners and look forward to defending it in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
“I’m India’s biggest fan,” said Krishna Dommeti, a second-year CS major.