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A group photo of the Indian XI that played against Rest of the World XI.  Photo Courtesy: Kamal Mirchandani

Cricket has been played by the expatriate community in Bogota, the capital of Colombia for more than 50 years. Recently the city witnessed a game being played between an India XI and the Rest of the World XI, a contest that was won by the latter. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the interesting game at the Bogota Cricket Club.

With India smarting under the humiliation in the Test series in England, the Bogota Cricket Club announced an interesting fixture on Twitter. “In Colombia, we’re giving Indian cricket chance to salvage some pride…India v RestOfWorld, 31 August @BogotaCricket,” declared the official Twitter handle of the Bogota Cricket Club. The first question that came to mind was: is cricket even played in Colombia — a football-mad nation in South America? Out of intrigue, this reporter got in touch with the organisers and found that the sport is played quite enthusiastically by the expats in the South American nation.

Colombia is not a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and has thus not featured in any of the World Cricket Leagues. But, at the Bogota Sports Club, cricket has occupied a spot since the 1960s. The club’s official website says that the sport was first played in Colombia more that 100 years ago i.e. in 1903.

But, in the 1950s, the influx of various British corporations saw the expats bringing cricket to the country. Initially, they played their games at a golf club, but needed a bigger venue to continue their matches. It was in 1955 that the Bogota Cricket Club was founded. But with the vision of having a club with all the sports for the British expats, the Bogota Sports Club was formed with the Cricket Club becoming its part. The Sports Club has facilities for rugby, football and tennis as well.

Over the years, there are accounts of the Bogota Cricket Club indulging in matches with team from Cali and a few units from Venezuela. They have also seen visits from a representative team from New Zealand. Tony White, the former West Indies Test cricketer also turned up for the Bogota Sports Club in a game or two, though he settled in Caracas, Venezuela. Thus, cricket has been a fledgling sport in the country for quite a while. It is majorly driven by the expatriate population. And now, with the arrival of the Indians, the sport’s popularity has only soared.

Thus, the Bogota Sports Club had the India vs Rest of the World XI match on Sunday, August 31, 2014. Prabhat Kumar, the Indian Ambassador to Colombia, was present on the occasion at Bogota savannah.  Though half the Rest of the World side was held due to traffic in various parts of the Columbian capital, the toss took place with them choosing to bat. Rest of the World XI put up 132 for eight in their 20 overs. It was quite a recovery after the team had lost four early wickets. The Indians though did not overhaul the score and were beaten by 38 runs.

Nevertheless, such games are bound to increase the interest in the sport in Colombia. The cricket loving public would have to take it step by step to help grow the sport in the country and spread it to the local population. There are big plans in store with a Bogota Premier League (BPL) T20 ‘Big Bosh’ in store in the near future.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)