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Cheering the Underdogs

by Bored Guest

In the recent discussions on BCC!, there was a debate about which team to cheer on - your country of origin or your country of residence. A lot of bytes have been spent on the conversation and I am not going to waste any more! :-)

Instead, I will ask you to ponder on which team you would cheer when two teams (neither of which is your primary team) is playing. For example, if you are an Indian (living in India), who do you cheer when Sri Lanka takes on Bangladesh, or if & when Nepal play against Bhutan.

For me, the answer is usually: Support the underdog. I "know" sport is supposed to be about "swifter, higher, stronger" and cricket, particularly Test cricket, is the most unforgiving game for poor talent. But when a match is going on, my heart is with the underdog team.I am trying to understand why this is. And I believe this is because sport is never really about skill or competition. It is about passion and feelings.

For example, when India is playing, I don't really care if India (such as in the 2007T20 World Cup) has a bunch of untested youngsters and the other team has experienced great batsmen and bowlers. I want India to win. If India lose by 1 run, it sucks, even if it was a great match. From the "objective" part of my brain, I can appreciate the closeness of the match and the tight competition, but my heart is weary and sad.

When it comes to a neutral match, the victory of a David is always sweeter than that of a Goliath, even if the latter has stupendous batting and bowling performances. Why? Because there is that element of surprise that is missing in any Goliath victory. It is inspirational to watch the underdog win. It uplifts us in a way that a clean victory by a superstar team can never do.

Do you remember the 16 record Test victories that Australia had, or the Test where they were stopped by Dravid and Laxman. Or why Australia's 1999 back-from-the-dead win seems more meaningful than their 2003 and 2007 World Cup victories? Ditto with India 1983 and Pakistan 1992. And how the Sri Lankans grew from no-hopers to world beaters in a few years.

What do you think?

by Krish


Gaurav Sethi said...

I was with Monty and JA, gotta be an Aussie not to back them - the underdog always, esp when they're 9 down, down and out, and suddenly you see a hope in hell, that was canny defense from the two no-hopers, though I was hoping for 18 needed by Aussie from one over. That would have been some Super Over.

Megha said...

I follow this order

South Africa (dont ask me's just one of those things)
the other team, if Australia is one of the two
the underdog

Krish said...

@Naked Cricket

That would have been the most amazing over in Test cricket. Spectacular end to a great last day.

Krish said...

Megha, except for the South Africa part, I have a similar order of cheering on the team. For course, since Australia is No. 1, every team which plays against them is the underdog.

raj said...

Well, it all depends. My order is this
Sri Lanka
West Indies
South Africa
New Zealand
Never support Pricky Ranting's team - even if they played on behalf of earth against mars, I shall support Mars.
No fixed logic in that orded - and support for India might depend on MSD not playing politics, working overtime to somehow keep out Badri, and conveniently forgetting to name Dinesh Karthik in post match ceremonies(except against Australia - in which case, all local bile against MSD, Bhajji and co will be suspended)