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Last night while watching India bat against West Indies, I was getting this sinking feeling. Actually, it has been a while since I got this feeling. It felt like the 90s and the early 2000s all over again: India choking whenever there is a big match. I know, we can’t win it all but what is disappointing is the manner in which we fold up in big matches.

But then, being the all optimistic Indian that I am, I tweeted this…

“Technically, even if we loose, and the SL & WI loose from Aus by a big margin and India defeat SL, we could still be in the semis”

The rest of the evening, my mind was on Group F run rates and I turned to the cricket channel every now and then to see how SL was faring. Just before going off to bed, I checked the score – SL were 26 for 2… no make that 3 as a Dirk Nennes Yorker just caught Jayasurya plumb in front! Some relief, I thought. I knocked on my brother’s door who was already half asleep and updated him with the score: SL 26 for 3. He in his sleep, still had his brains working and said… ‘Still not possible’. I knew he didn’t mean it. I knew he’d sleep better on hearing this score.

After an hour of churning in the bed, I woke up to have water and again rushed to the TV. I saw the program “Great Centuries”. I was ecstatic coz. this could mean only one thing – SL were all out. I opened up the laptop and checked the score “SL loose by 87 runs”. YIPPPEEEE….. Now I could sleep in peace.

When I woke up at 6.30, my brother was already up and the first words I uttered were “SL 87 All Out”. “Really” he jumped with joy (see I told you). After all, all of us Indians are hopeless romantics, no?

We sat down (without even brushing our teeth, everybody else sleeping and we were getting late for office but all of that could wait) and started discussing the possibilities and the run rates. I checked the sites, got out a calculator and calculated the run rate deficit. We came up with a figure of 40. If India defeats Sri Lanka by 39 runs, we could be in the semis. Tough ask but possible…

Back in office, immersed in files, I got a call from my brother again. He asked, “How did we calculate the deficit of 39?” I explained him the run rate and said that SL is -0.6 and India is -1.58 so if India have to reach -0.6, India need to win by 39 runs… Immediately I realised the error. If India defeats SL, India’s run rate would get better while SL would get worse. So we just need to meet them half way and voila, the all important number comes down to 20. This is huge. I mean, a win against SL by only 20 runs looks quite possible. Especially, considering the fact that Indian batsmen love Sri Lankan bowlers when it comes to big tournaments.

So again we pat each other’s back on reducing India’s target by 20 runs; and get back to work, a tad happier.

But the point of this post is not the important number but introspection over why, are we such hopeless optimists?

This hasn’t happened for the first time. I’m sure all of you Indians reading would realise that this is a very frequent situation wherein India loose the first few games and then we hang our hopes on other teams to win their matches and let us in the next stage. There may be few who might, from the start say, India will be out of the Super 8s but I swear to God, they don’t believe themselves. More often than not, they are saying it only because of a superstition that whatever they say turns out to be false. But we believe, we do believe, that it’s not over till it is over. Why?

Is it the Hindi movies that do this to us? The movies where the Hero (or even Heroine now) always needs a six off the last ball and always hits it? The movies where inspite of being shot a 100 times, the hero does manage to travel half the country and reach the hospital… (all on foot) and survive to wake up fresh the next day, just with a few bandages on his chest?

Is it the 9000 odd Gods that do this to us? We always have someone to go to like even if you’re disappointed by Shiv Bhagwan, someone will tell you of a Devi Mata’s temple where if you go barefoot, your prayers will be answered? And then there’ll be a special temple of Bajrang Bali. If that doesn’t work, try Hajipir and so on and so forth…

Or is it that old dingy song that we used to sing in school that has stuck… “Hum honge kaamyab

I mean, seriously, what is it?

(Btw, 20 is indeed that all important number for the next two days)

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