India could not level their T20I series against West Indies © AFP
India could not level their T20I series against West Indies © AFP

The record books will show India lost their first-ever cricket series in the United States to West Indies 1-0. Quite agonisingly, the reality is far from the entry. In the first Twenty20 International (T20I) at Lauderhill, India who maintained a 12-plus run-rate until the start of the 20th over lost the plot in the final ball when world cricket’s most highly-rated finisher and Indian captain MS Dhoni was dismissed, when he had to score two off it. The efforts of KL Rahul, who had played one of the finest T20I knocks, went down the drain. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs West Indies, 2nd T20I at Lauderhill 

While India lost the first game by one-run purely due to cricketing reasons, the second game was washed-out and declared ‘No Result’. Florida usually receives rains aplenty in August and weather did play its part in the spoilsport but the result book does not show the complete picture.

The toss took place at the scheduled 9.30 am local time (7.00 pm IST) and the match, which was suppose to start at 10 am local time, started 40 minutes late. There was a hurricane alert in the morning but weather gods were not to be blamed for this. The delay was due to technical issues. Apparently, there was some problem with the satellite feed.

Whom to blame?

The richest cricket governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have IMG Sports ensuring the production for them, which is telecast by Star Sports. These kind of technical glitches are unusual but cricket paid the price for it.

There was a joke doing rounds in the internet that the technical glitch was not being fixed as the entire tech support of America was busy with cricket. But on a serious note, with technology involved in getting proceedings better, there are bound to be times when something gives up. Though for such a marquee event (yes, Team India, the rock stars of cricket, were playing their first-ever series in the US) adequate measures should have been ensured. But for now, let us not be too harsh on them.

Not the producers, but the decision-makers are accountable for this. With the weather being uncertain for the major part of the day, shouldn’t the play have started despite the technical glitches?

Had 40 minutes not been lost, India would had played a minimum of 6 overs needed to ensure a result. With West Indies having managed only 143 and the way Indian batsmen had begun, their win was on the cards.

Again, it is a game of uncertainty like we witnessed in the final ball on Saturday, and who knows if West Indians bowlers could have come back well, they could have won the series 2-0 and in turn taken the No.2 spot in the ICC T20I rankings.

Forty minutes. That is more than hockey’s half-time, almost football’s first-half, add another eight minutes, a NBA match ends. Most sports in the world do not run that long. And cricket’s micro version of three hours, T20, that competes with smaller duration sport or let us say baseball (three hours) in Uncle Sam’s context, lost out on 40 minutes of play, while trying to make its impact in the nation of dreams!

Unfair on the crowd!

Had it been just weather, fans who flocked to Lauderhill would have blamed their luck. Indian cricket team carries the baggage of expectation of their fans and like Dhoni had said on Saturday that the team will even find support if they played in the Bermuda Triangle!

There is a sizable expatriate Indian population in the US. Fans from all around the country and even from the neighbouring Canada flew down to Lauderhill to watch their heroes in action.

The ticket price ranged from US$ 100 to 250, which is more than other sport in the US (more than NBA and MLB games, and also WWE events), and add the travel expense to it. Television audience mint moolahs for organisers but what about the fans who invested a fortune and time? If not a full game, a result at least is what they deserved.

Also, think about the teams in question. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra’s inclusion in the Indian side proved to be a masterstroke as they turned the tides and restricted West Indies to 143. India were favourites to level the series and even though miniscule, the West Indian bowlers had a chance to ensure a 2-0 win to ensure a climb in the rankings.

Also let us spare a miniscule thought for the fans who were following the game on other medium such as radio, internet, etc. Does it matter in the television-dominated scene?

My uncle’s colleague, who travelled close to 1,500 miles (around 2,400 km) from Boston, Massachusetts to Lauderhill, Florida and exhausted $480 on his 2-day pass to spend his weekend with his favourite Men In Blue was disgusted.

“Agreed the broadcasters ensured the game was staged here in first place but what about us? We hole our pockets with the exorbitant ticket rates and travel, but to get second priority. 40-50 minutes delay due to some satellite glitch, when you know it is going to rain later? Absurd planning, isn’t it? If you want to tap the US market, I am not sure if this is the ideal way,” fumed Mr Neil Mitra (name changed as per request).

There were many fans, who expressed their disgust on several social media platforms. Perhaps, Mr. Neil’s disgust sums it up well.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)