For the love of the game in the United States

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Washington, Sep.28 (ANI): "Dude, this is just a league game, not a final of the World Cup or something but God knows my hands are sweaty and my legs cannot stop shaking," said Amr Hassan, the president of the George Washington cricket team.

GW cricket hosted a free airing of the India-Pakistan cricket match of the 'Champions Trophy' in the George Washington University last Saturday, which saw the two subcontinental giants facing off.

Amr Hassan, a senior from Pakistan, was the brain behind the idea of airing such a match and other members of the cricket team, including yours truly, supported his idea.

Initial projections for the number of people who would watch the match were conservative at best (15-20). However, we underestimated the weight that this match held for cricket lovers.

On an overcast Friday morning (7:45 a.m.) Amr walked into my room with his laptop bag and an anxious look, as he did not have his cable that connects the laptop to the projector.

Even though this was a minor crisis, the excitement of the game had already overtaken us. After making some frenetic calls and procuring the needed cables, we walked to the 'Marvin Centre', where the match was supposed to take place. The roads were empty, the trash collectors were on the street and it was cold. Both of us were in a trance, and a few words were exchanged. Even though we have remained the best of friends since our first year at GWU, games like these call for battle lines to be drawn.

Before entering the lift that would take us to the room allotted to us, our eyes fell upon a large electronic screen. It read, "GW Cricket- Pakistan versus India, airing," my hands start to fidget. After some initial technical snags, which the sleepy Marvin Centre staff grudgingly accepted to fix, we had the match up and running.

It was still early, about 8:30 a.m. in the morning; we expected that most of the people who were interested would trickle in only by 11 a.m. or 12 p.m., in a drunken haze since it was the start to the weekend. The first person to enter was Abhishek Pansari, a junior from India, who entered the room and declared, "Poori raat nahin soya yaar, kya match hone waala hai! (I haven't slept for the entire night, what a match this is going to be)."

Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first; we have five people in the room, some sleepy and some cold (The air-conditioning was effective, a banal observation but extremely important, which you will realize as I ramble on in this article).

After the fifth over, something amazing was happening which caught Pansari, also a member of the GW cricket team, by surprise, "These guys woke up!" He was referring to the graduate students of GWU who started trickling in one by one at a steady rate and soon after Pakistan's innings had ended, our room was crammed with about 60 people. They were among them Indian and Pakistani men and women, both graduates and undergraduates sitting together cheering their respective teams and applauding the opposition team too. We also had the occasional token white American amongst us.

The overwhelming majority in the room were Indian students and when India did lose the match there was an air of sadness.

That efficient air-conditioning helped alleviate the atmosphere. The graduate students were extremely content with the morning and early afternoon that they had spent watching the match in such a great atmosphere. They congratulated Amr and suggested he air the rest of the matches too. A jubilant Amr was looking at Pansari and I, a commiserating smile on his face.

A die-hard cricket fan and an eternal optimist when it comes to Indian cricket, the walk back to my dormitory was very difficult for me. My ego shattered and my expectations from my team in the dumps, I could not force myself to talk to anyone, my throat had choked up. Amr, slings his arm around me and said, "Kya hua Ishaan, kuch toh bol, bol doonga apni team ko ki agle baar aise na haraye aapko.

Agli baar dekhte hain kya hota. (Don't fret Ishaan, I will tell my team next time to not defeat your team, let us see what happens next time.)

I manage a wry grin and we walk into our dormitories. That's cricket for you folks. By Ishaan Prakash (ANI)

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