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India's cricketers have turned to a numerologist to determine which squad numbers they should wear

Tuesday, December 02, 2021

India play numbers game for on-field success

 Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have turned to a leading numerologist to determine which squad numbers they should wear on their blue uniforms. © AFP

Mumbai: With a string of impressive on-field performances, including victory in the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup, India have risen to become one of the world's leading limited-overs sides.

But their recent success, first in Australia earlier this year and at home against England before last week's terror attacks led to the cancellation of the remainder of the one-day series, may not just be down to their skills with the bat and ball.

The figures may also be tilted in their favour.

Players including captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and in-form batsman Yuvraj Singh have turned to a leading Indian numerologist to determine which squad numbers they should wear on their blue uniforms.

In numerology, numbers are keys to predicting and explaining human behaviour. Each number is assigned a characteristic of certain cosmic powers and linked to planets. Birth dates are also considered auspicious.

Sanjay B. Jumaani, a Mumbai-based numerologist, said about half a dozen members of the team have come to him to help get a psychological edge over the opposition.

"In cricket, fortune is a very important aspect, from a ball that can take a wicket or be sent to the other side of the field. That can turn the fate of the game," he told AFP by telephone.

Jumaani, a newspaper columnist who is also consulted by leading Bollywood stars, said the trend was set by former India captain Sourav Ganguly and spread through the team by word of mouth as his form improved.

Among those playing the numbers game is Dhoni, born on the seventh day of the seventh month of 1981. He wears squad number seven - symbolic of dynamism and communication.

Left-hander Yuvraj, who smashed England bowler Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa, was born on the 12th day of the 12th month in 1981.

He wears 12. One plus two adds up to three, representing not only strong Jupiter and Singh's zodiac sign, Sagittarius, but also ambition and success.

Opener Gautam Gambhir, born on October 14, 1981, is a five in numerology, which governs his zodiac sign of Libra, and symbolises dynamism. His squad number is five.

Middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma wears 45, adding up to nine - one of his three lucky numbers. Nine also represents Mars, the planet of energy and aggression.

All-rounder Irfan Pathan was advised on his squad number (63) for the same reason.

Seamer Zaheer Khan is a seven in numerology as he was born on the seventh day of October, 1978. His squad number, 34, adds up to seven.

And young seamer Ishant Sharma was told to choose 29, the first two numbers of his birth date.

Yet aggressive opener Virender Sehwag dispensed with his squad number, 44, altogether as it was "pulling him down," said Jumaani. He has since recovered his form.

"He's the only player in the world who does not wear any number," said Jumaani.

Sehwag explained: "I do not believe in astrology but my family members do. Many people used to pester me and my family to use different numbers.

"I was so fed up that I decided not to take their advice. We play Test matches without numbers and hence I do not use any number on my T-shirt," he said.

Cricketers, like most sportsmen and women, are often a superstitious bunch, whether it is keeping a red handkerchief in their pocket, putting a particular pad or boot on first or going through rituals at the crease.

Jumaani, who believes India's victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the Twenty20 Worlds final last year, was through a fortuitous combination of numbers three, six and nine, admits numerology on its own is not enough.

"I always believe success is a mixture of fortune and hard work. It (numerology) puts you in a positive frame of mind. Psychology plays an important role but so do the vibrations," he explained.

"Once you are in a positive frame of mind, half the battle is won."