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Separated by soccer, united by cricket

“What time is the kick-off?” one young man asked another. “I mean what time is the bat-off?” he quickly corrected himself, realising the own goal.

Three friends-turned-football foes were reunited as friends for a day on Sunday evening, thanks to T20 cricket. Manchester United supporter Soumya Dasgupta, die-hard Liverpool fan Krishnendu Biswas and Chelsea fanatic Souvik Basu took a break from passionately arguing, debating and bickering over goals, tackles and penalties to cheer for the same team in a match that went from hurrah to heartbreak.

Team India may have lost the T20 World Cup to Sri Lanka but there was something that the final did to the three football fans that their favourite game hadn’t been able to do: make them exult in one voice or let out a collective scream of exasperation.

“I really don’t remember the last cricket match I watched from the first ball to the last,” said 23-year-old Krishnendu. “Please update me a little on our road to the final.”

“It is raining there. The match has been delayed a little,” replied Soumya, a PhD student at JU.

“See! That is why I don’t watch cricket. Come rain, shine, snow or storm, a football match is weather-proof,” remarked techie Souvik, 26.

The trio had set up a rare date with cricket at City Centre Salt Lake, only to realise that rain in Dhaka wasn’t the only impediment. The giant screen at The Kund had apparently conked off, forcing a last-minute change in plan.

The three friends decided to catch the match at Caught ’N’ Bowled, a restaurant at the mall. Virat Kohli’s string of match-winning knocks and India’s entry into the final had convinced Soumya that they should put aside their footballing differences, for once, to unite for cricket.

Soumya sent a WhatsApp message to his Liverpool and Chelsea “frenemies” with the message: “Guys, this Sunday lets bleed blue.”

But football wasn’t far from their minds even on Sunday. In the three hours that they were following India’s slump from favourites to bridesmaids, the trio were never short of a comparison between football and cricket.

While Kohli was likened to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez because of their common match-winning abilities, Lasith Malinga’s afro hairstyle finished second-best to Chelsea man David Luiz’s tonsorial style.

As the curtain came down on India’s campaign, Krishnendu came up with the shot of the evening.“So what if we lost the cup to Sri Lanka? we still have their Jacqueline Fernandez!” said Krishnendu.