It was agony repeated all over again,and manifold,after a gap of four years – as the Indian XI went down to Great Britain at the Maccabiah Games – the Jewish Olympics – in the cricket bronze medal contention match on Sunday. 58 runs was a yawning gap that separated the Indian team from a bronze medal in cricket,as they relived the trauma of 2009 when the South Africans had handed them a defeat – that time for the gold.
The quaint Jewish community in India – especially those along the western coastline – have for a few years now been congregating a few days before the Games held every four years at Jerusalem and attempting to bring home a coveted gold in a sport that is a bigger craze in their home country than in the host nation. Circulars go out start of every summer – each quadrennial – at the synagogues and enthusiastic amateurs (they also had a Ranji aspirant from Rajkot this time around) get cracking on putting together a preparatory camp for the cricket.
While the enthusiastic senior,Noah,a Mumbai citizen,boasts of his own nets at the Azad Maidan,heavy monsoons this year had meant that they were all pushed indoors. With much ingenuity and the assistance of a team-mate the Indians had managed to turn the swanky Shinrai Toyota showroom at E Moses Road in Worli into an indoor facility by night.
Nets went up past midnight behind the shutters and an artificial turf had been laid out as the Indian team got down to sharpening their shots and freed their arms to bowl at full tilt,in anticipation of the Games where they had cruelly been denied a title win last edition.
The members of the team had reiterated that the loss to South Africa hadn’t actually rankled,but when the team set off for the Games,it was very clear that they had revenge on their mind,and losing hadn’t quite sat comfortably in their hearts from last time around.
Though cricket was one of the many disciplines in which Indians participated – badminton,TT and tennis,golf were others – it was the cricket team that had set sail hoping to bring home the big medal from the Games that have over 9000 athletes from across 75 countries. The team had in its ranks a 5-time Olympian from the Maccabiah and was thirsting to set right what they had believed to be a series of unfair calls at crucial times that had cost them the gold medal.
The pool of players was small – a bare 20 from across India – and they believed they had done their best to get past the line this time with all-rounder Elijah trying his best. However,the campaign never took off very convincingly,and it ended this time with the Indians pushed out of the medal bracket even,as South Africa,Israel and Great Britain stood on the podium.