April 2nd, 2011 By EVAN SERNOFFSKY | News | Posted In: Sports

All Night Cricket Party

Swagat Cricket PartyFans watch as India defetes Sri Lanka in the 2011 Cricket World Cup - Evan Sernoffsky

At 2:30 a.m., most late-night establishments release the drunks and lock the doors. But early this morning, last call was when the party really started for one Portland business.

Swagat, an Indian restaurant on Northwest 21st and Lovejoy, hosted a viewing party for the 2011 Cricket World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka. About 20 guests drummed loudly on the tables as the match got underway Saturday morning.

“I have watched almost all of the matches in this World Cup. I set my body clock so that I can get up and stay awake,” said Raiyo Aspandiar, an engineer at Intel in Hillsboro. “They say there are two religions in India, cricket and Bollywood.”

The Cricket World Cup final is one of the world's most watched sporting events. Like its soccer counterpart, the Cricket World Cup is held every four years and 2011 marked the first time two Asian countries competed in a final. According to the India Cultural Association of Portland, almost 10,000 Indians live in the area.

The small crowd at Swagat was not your typical beer-swilling collection of sports fans.

Some spectators at Swagat refilled their cups of chai five or six times throughout the night. “It’s not like ‘crack open a six pack’ and watch the game,” said Miten Bhatia, a US Bank branch manager who moved to the United States from Mumbai in the fall of 1998. “A lot of families watch cricket. I remember watching it with my grandmother.”

As the game came to a close Sunday morning with favorite India winning in a come-from-behind victory, the exhausted crowd filed out of Swagat into the bright morning light celebrating their first World Cup win in 28 years.

“It’s been fun to have people come and watch the game,” said Srimanth Chinnam, owner of Swagat. “Nobody else is awake.”
 
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