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Bleeding Black in a sea of Blue: The eternal tale of an Indian Black Caps fan


As MS Dhoni walked back after being dismissed in the WC 2019 semi-final against New Zealand, Indians all over the world let out a collected cry of anguish. A boy in Kolkata however surprisingly started dancing, jumping and screaming in joy following this game-changing moment which had virtually guaranteed the Kiwis a spot in the final.

Why wouldn’t he do so? The boy was after all a hardcore supporter of the Kiwis, having started backing the Black Caps at the tender age of 7 despite hailing from India, a nation with arguably the most fanatical fan base.

Mainak Indu, the boy being referred to, has been supporting New Zealand since the 2007 ODI WC through thick and thin, despite the lack of silverware.


“The year was 2007. Everyone was rooting for India in the World Cup, which is something I still remember. When the Men in Blue were eliminated early, the support tilted towards Australia who eventually took it home. However, New Zealand was the team which grabbed my attention even though I was just 7 years old. You can even term it as love at first sight. I admired the fact that they kept battling it out till the very end. The desire to keep grinding it out attracted me to them, resulting in the beginning of a beautiful journey. The defeat against Sri Lanka which knocked us out of the tournament, still hurts.”

Elaborating further on his journey as a Black Caps supporter, Mainak described utmost discipline, sportsmanship, top notch performances in every ICC tournament as the factors which make New Zealand a special team.

“There’s always that guy in a class who performs extremely well during the final exams. New Zealand to me is that guy. The team motivates me. There are several special matches involving the Kiwis which I still cherish, because of the beautiful manner in which the spirit of the game was maintained, despite the extremely high level of competitiveness,” he says.

“The first clash would be the semi-final of the 2015 WC against South Africa. Grant Elliot’s match-winning six made me shout and jump to such an extent, that I was not given lunch as punishment by my mother, who called me a ‘psycho’. The second would be the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup against the same opposition, who were the dark horses in the tournament. South Africa seemed set to chase down a below-par target following a quality start, before Jacob Oram made his presence felt. There are quite a few matches where New Zealand emerged victorious from the jaws of defeat. The biggest example would be the triumph in the semi-final of the 2019 WC against India, despite posting just 240 on the board. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Recording such performances takes courage, determination and unimaginable hard work. There are very few teams which have been as consistent in ICC tournaments since 2007. This consistency is a good sign, as a trophy might soon follow. We will certainly cherish the long wait for our first major ICC trophy, since the Champions Trophy triumph back in 2000 all thanks to Chris Cairns’ heroics,” adds the 20-year-old.

When quizzed further about the thrilling WC triumph by a narrow margin of 18 runs against the Men in Blue, there is a glint in the eye followed by a big smile.

“The Black Caps enjoyed a pretty good start, with Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls steadying the ship following the cheap dismissal of Martin Guptill. The run rate was building up slowly and steadily. However, Kane was dismissed playing a bad shot resulting in a drop in the run rate. Several crucial dismissals during the important middle overs played truant, with rain hampering the game as well. It was because of Ross Taylor’s late heroics the next day that we were able to post a decent target on the board,” says Mainak.

“India had the upper-hand because of their destructive batsmen. However, New Zealand’s USP has always been the bowling and fielding department, which made me confident that an upset was on the cards. That’s what eventually happened. Matt Henry played arguably the best match of his career so far, dismissing KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma in quick succession. Trent Boult further got it spot on against Virat Kohli, exploiting Kohli’s weakness by bowling continuously outside off, before suddenly delivering one inside. This was followed by Jimmy Neesham’s outstanding catch at point to get rid of Dinesh Karthik, who was just starting to get set. Our bowlers were quite economical, with Santner not giving any room to MS Dhoni. The pressure got to Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya who attempted to play big shots rashly, resulting in a massive blow for Team India. However, what I could never have imagined was the contribution of Ravindra Jadeja, who smacked the ball to all corners of the ground. Just when it seemed like the game was slipping out of our grasp, skipper Kane Williamson completed a tough catch under pressure to send Jadeja back. Dhoni attempted to make an impact by smashing a couple of sixes, before Guptill’s direct hit emerged as the final nail in the coffin. It was all curtains from that stage for Team India as Lockie Ferguson accounted for the tail-enders in an effective manner. I was dancing, shouting and screaming in my room in pure joy. It is very difficult to express my emotions in words,” adds the 20-year-old.

New Zealand

While it is certainly very exciting to witness the enthusiasm shared, the question arises whether his friends and other Team India fans have been supportive in their reactions towards this unlikely union.

“They know about my loyalty towards New Zealand. I don’t hide anything from anyone. Being an Indian, it is not necessary to support the national cricket team. Winning the WC will result in bragging rights in International cricket. It won’t have any other impact financially or socially. I prefer to experience that joy while supporting the Black Caps. While some people choose to call me a traitor, I believe that there is no harm being caused to my nation through my actions. India is my motherland and this love will never diminish,” expresses Mainak.

While the 2019 WC in England brought immense joy for the Black Caps fan, the same tournament is responsible for forcing the lad to come to terms with the “worst day of his life so far”. The day being referred to is the final of the tournament, where New Zealand were defeated by England on account of boundary count.

“That day has caused me extreme pain. It is the worst day of my life so far. I was so sad that I did not have dinner that night, and was in a state of depression the next few days. It seemed like my heart almost stopped beating when Jos Buttler collected the throw and completed the run-out. The umpires made a massive mistake that day. The gentle forced smile on Kane Williamson’s face indicated it all. He was disgusted. Martin Guptill was crying, with Jimmy Neesham attempting to comfort him. Ish Sodhi in the dug-out seemed quite astonished as well. The players were cheering and shouting when Neesham smashed a six in the super over. Sadly, the cheer was soon replaced with grief all around. A fair defeat would have been acceptable. This however, was not a fair result.  Not every memorable encounter can have a happy ending sadly. I still feel the sorrow while watching the highlights. Why was the trophy not shared by the two teams just like Sri Lanka and India did back in 2002, during the Champions Trophy. It’s very tough from a fan’s perspective. One cannot imagine the pain of the players,” says the 20-year-old with a look of extreme sadness.

Mainak however believes that this pain will soon end, and it will reach a glorious conclusion under the leadership of Williamson who was at the receiving end during the heartbreak.

“I have never seen anyone like him. Williamson is so calm and composed, despite the immense pressure of leading a side like New Zealand. The 29-year-old only looks to create his own milestones, with a focus on leading from the front at every stage. I certainly want him at the helm for the next five years, as he is an excellent player who enjoys the ability to win games single-handedly. Williamson will certainly find a place amongst the greatest cricketers ever, at the end of his career. I am a huge fan because of his supremacy as a player as well as captain, which is something Ross Taylor failed miserably at,” he enthuses.

“Amongst other New Zealand stars, I have a special spot in my heart for Shane Bond who was the first player to catch my eye. There was even a personal diary which I maintained, going to the extent of attempting to copy his action without much success. Ross Taylor is another name because of his invaluable contribution to New Zealand cricket over the years. The next name would be Brendon McCullum due to obvious reasons with Danial Vettori, Nathan Astle, Stephen Fleming, Tim Southee, Trent Boult some of the other players who command a lot of respect in my eyes,” concludes the 20-year-old with a flourish.


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