Win or lose, NRIs fully backing Team India at ICC T20 World Cup

India vs USA, ICC T20 World Cup 2024
India vs USA, ICC T20 World Cup 2024 (PC: Debasis Sen)

Cricket fans are a unique breed.  It does not matter even if the star player they idolise belongs to another nation. Yes, for an Indian fan to praise a Pakistani cricketer would become a massive controversy, given the political climate today. On Wednesday, at the Nassau International Cricket Stadium situated on the outskirts of New York, India facing the United States of America in a league match of the ICC T20 World Cup had fired up all fans. The jerseys were a giveaway, as American citizens – both of Indian origin and otherwise – trooped into the stadium wearing India colours. The flag in their hand was also mostly the Indian tricolour.

This is the spirit of cricket, where nobody is going to brand a fan ‘anti-national’ for cheering players of another country. There are hundreds of thousands of Indians who have lived in the USA for decades, and fed a regular diet of Indian cricket, on television. Yes, the Nassau Stadium was not packed to the rafters, as was the case when India played Pakistan, but the support for India stretched from the stadium to downtown New York as well, even though it was a week day.

Gopinath Chari, an American-passport holder with his roots in New Delhi, lives on the outskirts of Boston. He has been there for over three decades, but deep down in his heart, he and his family are big fans of Indian cricket and its superstars.

“It was extremely happy to see India win against the US said Gopinath,” who works more from home these days when the World Cup is on. “And I am sure most Indians wanted India to win. But they also would have wanted tough competition from USA, which is what it was at the end.

“These days, cricket has so many aspects other than just saving wickets and scoring runs. The fielding captain needs to get things done in a timely manner between overs. This becomes a bit challenging for the new nations and, additionally, if there is a change in captain.” Gopinath’s reference was to Monank Patel missing the match, and Aaron James leading the side in an important match. Monank had made an impact in precious matches but was not available for the marquee clash due to a right shoulder niggle.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here

Team India vs USA
Team India vs USA (PC: Debasis Sen)

Some Non-Resident Indian (NRI) fans were sad, as they are full of praise for what Monank has done. “He has played well and delivered for the US many times,” said Sanjay Sharma, who lives in New York. Sanjay, like many others from India, emigrated more than two decades ago. But then, cricket and Bollywood – Sanjay loves both. “Kya yaar, India to India hai [India is India],” he said.

Gopinath, who still plays club cricket in Boston’s suburbs, had a few thoughts on the action too. “Some may feel that Shivam Dube was not good and should be replaced, but I was happy that he scratched it out and spent time in the middle,” he said. “This knock will help him to play some tough and crucial innings for India in the Super 8s. I was also happy for Suryakumar Yadav. Maybe the familiar bowler in [Saurabh] Netravalkar or a change in mindset helped him build his innings and play some lovely shots.

“What made me sad was Virat Kohli. It was too short an innings, and disappointing that he could not stay for some time and prepare for the next leg. All in all, the USA should be very proud. They played very well in their home conditions. I would have loved them to score a few more runs, but that wouls be expecting too much against the might of India.”

Surinder Singh, an NRI settled on the West Coast, prides himself on following cricket from a technical angle and supporting India. ”Boss, it’s fine to see India win in the US, the brand loyalty for Team India is strong,” he said. “What baffles me is pushing Virat to the top of the order. Opening in the IPL for RCB and India are not the same. I mean, on this drop-in pitch, there is plenty of seam movement. India played their last match in New York, and are set for the Super 8s, but they should be concerned Kohli has failed as an opener. Why not rejig the top?”

People can build up rivalries in sport, but Team India evokes strong passions abroad. Most Indians in the USA want to see Rohit Sharma and his boys do well in the World Cup, as the caravan moves now to Florida and then to the West Indies. 

Also Read: Virat Kohli and few more players unhappy with the gym facility in New York hotel