LONDON: There are moments in sports that transcend into the realm of fantasy, where onlookers are transported to a world that has nothing but the game itself. These moments don’t come often for they are born out of the athletes stretching their muscles and resolves to hitherto unheard-of limits. On Sunday, two such worlds existed parallelly, physically separated only by ten miles, each as enthralling as the other.
At Lord’s, England and New Zealand fought out an epic battle in the final of the ICC World Cup that was decided by the last stretch of the wicketkeeper’s hands and that final despairing dive by the batsman. Fifty overs each weren’t enough for them to find out who was better than the other, and the additional six balls proved barely adequate. In the end, it was England who stood tall, the deciding factor being that they had hit more boundaries than their crestfallen rivals.
Barely 40 minutes away from Lord’s, two giants of tennis were locked in a contest that required superhuman levels of endurance. A nearly 38-year-old Roger Federer made his younger rival Novak Djokovic give all he had, and then some more, in the Wimbledon final. Djokovic’s victory, when it finally came, was via a tie-breaker in the fifth set. The scoreline read a mindblowing 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12.
Among the scores headed towards Lord’s on a gloomy Sunday morning, a big majority were English and Indians. There were fans in the Pakistan green too, with the red and white of the England flag painted on their faces. This was a day when Asians settled in UK were rooting for their adopted home.
Who people from the subcontinent support is a big deal in the country of cricket’s origin. That they live here, enjoy the benefits and scream for their teams when they take on England had sparked a big debate a few years ago. That has not died down completely. But the 12th World Cup final was an occasion to show their hearts do beat for the country that gives them livelihood when the opponent is somebody else. They were cheering together all day. They had plenty to cheer for too with England enjoying the upper hand.
“Of course it’s England that we are supporting today,” said a group of Indian fans settled in London. “It would have been India had we reached the final. It’s difficult not to do that. But if it’s England versus another team, it’s natural that our loyalty will be with England.” They didn’t have to say it. Tricolour on one cheek and red-white on another explained the reality already.
The English chase had its share of nervous moments. From ball one to the last ball of the 50th there was no shortage of drama and unable to find a winner, the final headed to Super Over, where England won.