"Every cricketer here has gone through the street cricket phase.
"I started with a tennis ball, then a taped tennis ball and then finally reached the cricket ground."
Sarfraz Ahmed - Pakistan cricketer
tennis ball skillfully wrapped in electrical tape.
A chair, an empty crate of bottles or cardboard cartons as the wicket on the batting end – a brick or a stone is all that the bowler’s end gets.
There is only one good bat. Shoes are a rare commodity. Houses on both sides limit stroke play to dead straight and passing vehicles often stop play for a good reason.
Hit straight or tap it straight to a close-in fielder and run.
Street cricket has been a childhood and youth memory etched on to the brains of most South Asian boys – and girls in some cases.
Despite the name, street cricket is not limited to the tarmac roads of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal (not forgetting expats in Europe and the US).
"The street cricket craze has started to decrease with numbers falling."
9 / 16
"We didn't know anything else besides playing day and night."
Visit a dusty field - or even a mountainous terrain - on a Sunday morning and it will be difficult to count how many matches are taking place there.
There is competitiveness, arguments, scuffles – and sometimes somebody is beaten up – and a final hurrah just as the sun is setting and those heading to the mosque delay that last hit.
There are no strict rules but if the ball lands inside a house, you’re out. The umpires are often biased (from the batting side), there is no third-umpire for runouts and windows are often shattered.
The prize: a tape, a tennis ball, a one litre soft drink bottle and bragging rights.
And if you happen to be in Pakistan during Ramadan, the nights will give you endless action.
And from those dusty terrains and narrow streets rise the future cricketers, who will one day become idols to a new generation playing with taped tennis balls and flimsy bats.
"We don't play on the streets for money anymore but the winner gets a tape or a tennis ball."
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