Sachin’s biggest fan.

The day India meet Ireland, the first person to turn down a photograph request at the Chinnaswamy stadium is not Sachin Tendulkar. It is his fan, Sudhir Kumar Gautam.

“Let the team bus come first,” Sudhir says to the young man who wants a picture with him at a median near the stadium gate.

You’ve seen Sudhir. He is the most visible supporter of the Indian team and of Tendulkar. He is the guy with the shaven head, painted top to bottom in the colours of the Indian flag.

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His reward.

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The last 2 days have been an emotional ride for me. Several moments of and after the win poked at the kid in me who was cricket crazy, but — if I am honest — couldn’t revive him. I’ve moved too far, in both a literal and emotional sense. How badly I wish we had won the World Cup during the 90s! But that’s the price I pay for not continuing to be a devoted cricket fan. Those who did continue, they got an apt reward yesterday.

I won’t say the fans then were better; however, we were as irrational as one could be for a team that wasn’t great (but try telling that to us in the past). That team didn’t deserve the fans it had, but we dutifully passed on the baton to you lucky dogs now who have a team that is worth every bit of fanboyism. You must see why the win means that little bit more to us who never saw the 1983 win but continued to hope that their team would one day win the World Cup, make us experience that supreme joy and for once, for once, make the elders shut up about 1983. (I cannot overstate the word hope in the previous sentence; that’s how bad Dhoni and co. make that team look.)

I can’t speak for all but as one of them, I finally got closure as a cricket fan yesterday.

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I only bring those fans up two days later, in appropriate order of importance, after we have thanked everyone else.

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