I have watched matches at Eden Gardens since 1988. Although I have not been remotely as regular a visitor as some other avid cricket buffs, I have attended enough for Eden to give me a 'home' feeling whenever I arrive there.
It all started in 1988. A 13 year old attended an India West Indies ODI (in whites, those days) with mama. And somewhere down the line when I returned to play at my mohallas I developed this secret dream: of making my Test debut as on opening bowler for at the Eden Gardens. Polished red cherry in hand, raring to go at the end of my runup decked in sparkling whites. All set to bowl my first delivery in a Test match playing for India.
Of course I didn't chase my impossible dream and it didn't even take shape. But it remained – as my favourite impossible dream.
In all these years, I doubt if I have been on the ground when an Indian quickie has made his Test debut and opened the bowling. Perhaps certainly not. Before yesterday, the only Eden test I attended on opening day was India-vs-England in 1993..and I am pretty certain no Indian quickie made his debut in that match.
On 6th November we went to the ground on first day of Sachin's 199th Test. The whole point was to say goodbye to Sachin Tendulkar. That's an entirely different post, and I will not go on about Sachin here.
Takking our seats, we found that Shami Ahmed has been picked in playing eleven. This will be his Test debut. Shami would the bowling along with Bhuvaneswar Kumar, the only other medium pacer in the side.
My impossible dream came rushing back as the Indians took the field. As Shami took the ball and walked up to the end of his run-up I slipped into a trance…as if I was reborn as a spectator on the day of my dream debut..and Shami was me. All decked up in sparking new whites, raring to go with a red cherry in hand. This was the moment I have repeated visions of, even to this day when I no more follow cricket with any devotion.
I watched him closely when he delivered his first ball. From the slow start of run, to the acceleration, ending in the brisk delivery action which generates decent fast-medium pace. I don't remember what happened after he delivered. I had made my debut and the rest mattered little at that point of time.
"Sapne hona zaroori hai". It is important to have dreams. Coz sometimes you can live them through another person.
A friend of mine had asked me not to give up on this dream, as it will happen one day if I keep on nurturing it. Well, in more ways than one 6th November was my "Joy of giving" day, sort of. I ended up relinquishing my dream to India's newest Test player, Shami Ahmed.
That recurring moment of my dreams has now passed into reality with Shami's debut delivery. I do not see it returning again in my daydreams. Perhaps I shall now be content to die without having bowled a 'real' delivery in my first Test match at Eden.