x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Deep amid wickets

The Cricket World Cup takes over Abu Dhabi, uniting its expatriate communities.

The one aspect that transcended all socioeconomic capacities was the
The one aspect that transcended all socioeconomic capacities was the

A midsummer's day at Lord's Cricket Ground, England in 1983 and India's Mohinder Armanath is running in to bowl as the late-afternoon light begins to cast long shadows over this famous sporting venue. His opponent Michael Holding awaits Armanath's next delivery at the other end of a sun-bleached pitch. This is the Cricket World Cup final and India stands on the verge of claiming a famous victory over the West Indies.

In this moment, Armanath is the history man. The player who not only changed the course of a showpiece contest - the West Indies were then the leaders of world cricket, so far ahead of all their opponents it almost seemed unfair - he may well have changed the course of cricketing history too. Inspired, or at the very least chastened by India's World Cup-winning efforts in 1983, Pakistan and Sri Lanka would, in 1992 and 1996 respectively, also later claim the sport's biggest prize.

Armanath's performance leads, almost three decades later, to the reconstitution of a sport from one that had been run largely by an old colonial master and its former servant (with a little help from a Caribbean interloper), to the subcontinental affair it is now. If England and Australia used to hold the keys to the kingdom, then India, with its hyper-wealthy and star-studded premier league, is the game's current and undisputed ruler. That financial might has been matched on the pitch too. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have outperformed all others in this year's Cricket World Cup, which concludes tomorrow. Indeed, the 10th final of the competition will be the first to be contested by two teams from the subcontinent. Whatever the outcome, history will be made in Mumbai on Saturday.

Lee Hoagland, a staff photographer at The National, has watched the drama of the 2011 tournament unfold. Charged with recording the reactions of Abu Dhabi's expatriate communities, his pictures provide a snapshot of the multicultural social fabric of the capital.

From a standing-room-only labour-camp common room on the outskirts of Musaffah's industrial zone to the shopfronts of the city's backstreets, Hoagland's images focus on faces staring intently at a flickering screen. In doing so, he captures the transformative nature of sport - its ability to take spectators away from the humdrum of their daily existence and into a world where their heroes achieve the almost impossible.