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   I had thought I would not watch the Reliance Cup final... (September 11, 1987)

I had thought I would not watch the Reliance Cup final (on TV, naturally), since there was no partisan interest and it made little difference to me whether England won ence to me whether England won or Australia. But cricket has its drawing powers like few other games and I sat through the whole match.

And I was happy that the people of Calcutta filled the stadium (granted they had little choice and cheered what everybody thought were the underdogs. And I could not help thinking, much to my regret, what a contrast there was between the sporting people of Calcutta and those of Bombay, in Calcutta they enjoy their cricket, in Bombay they riot after a cricket match.

And though all these years I differed with A.F.S. Talyarkhan on the issue of the Pentangular being banned in Bombay, because he clamed they aroused the worst communal feelings in our citizens, I am inclined to agree with him now.

And I am also glad that the final was held in Calcutta and not in Delhi, where all the major events are held now and large stadia constructed for the purpose.

I am sad for Kapil Dev; it is not a nice feeling to know that you were responsible for your team’s defeat in the semifinals. And I am sorry for Sunil Gavaskar - that his final innings in an international before his home crowd should have gone so unheralded. If there is one cricketer who deserved something better then the fickle Bombay crowds, not one among whom got up to give him the final applause, it was Gavaskar.

And I am sorry for General Zia that he should have lost the opportunity of paying one more visit to India and getting a litte more mileage for himself out of his Pakistan team.

And I cannot get over the sight, as seen on TV, of a stand at the Lahore stadium, filed entirely with young women, jumping, shouting, singing, waving banners for King Imran. It just goes to show how much energy and dynamism there is in the Pakistani women and what they could do and what they could achieve under a prime minister like Benazir Bhutto.

And I think of the new finds of the Reliance Cup season. Navjot Singh Sidhu, above everybody else, and the maturing of Mohammad Azharuddin, the fighting qualities of Chetan Sharma, which have never left him. And Bishen Bedi and Abbas Ali Baig as broad casters of merit. Though, op the other hand, the season has also other hand, the season has also discovered some of the worst TV cameramen in the world. I often wonder, if our fielders had missed as many catches, stumpings, runouts as our cameramen did, where would we have been!

And a word about Reliance, which spent so much money but did not manage half (one-third) as much publicity for itself as the far better organised Bush did.

And that final shot of Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani himself, the grand patron of the Reliance Cup, handing over the winner’s cheque to Allan Border and telling him: “Have a good time.”

 
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