Cultures united by passion for cricket

University Cricket Club members, who are mostly Indian or Pakistani, say the club promotes cultural awareness.

When Shiva Garimella decided to revitalize the University Cricket Club, he was concerned tension between India and Pakistan would carry over to the cricket team.

“I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be to run the club with Pakistanis,” said Garimella, a second-year graduate student from Hyderabad, India.

The two South Asian countries have historically been at political odds and are fierce competitors in cricket.

Club Vice President Nadir Budhwani and captain Yousuf Mamsa are from Pakistan.

Garimella said passion for the game is what brings them together. The main aspect of cricket is team spirit, he said.

By coming to the United States and being so far from home, Garimella said, he realized how close the two cultures really were.

Mamsa also said he thinks cricket brings the two together.

“Cricket provides a place where we can identify with our sport and each other,” he said.

Cricket, while relatively unknown in the United States, is popular throughout Europe, South Asia and the Middle East.

Most of the club’s 32 members are from India or Pakistan, and most have played cricket since their childhood.

One of the club’s main goals is promoting the game of cricket at the University. It would like to see the sport get more recognition and expand its membership to a wider variety of people.

“We do not want to portray the image that only Southeast Asians play this sport,” Budhwani said.

The department of kinesiology recently approved a beginning cricket course that Budhwani will teach next semester.

The course will teach students the basics of the game and give them a chance to develop their skills.

Eventually, the club would like to see an intramural cricket team at the University and possibly a Gophers team in the future.

Garimella said playing for the University would give them a sense of pride they could not get playing pick-up games on their own.

The group sometimes plays at the Bierman athletics complex or Northrop Mall, but Budhwani said they would like to find a permanent place to hold practice.

In South Asia, cricket bridges the gap between India and Pakistan. Garimella said it is doing the same thing here.

He said that when Indians and Pakistanis play cricket together, it is promoting respect.

“Once you have respect for your team members, you are going to have respect for their culture,” Garimella said.

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