They venerate the traditions and the aura of their university. They revere their seniors who achieved glory. Cricket though is what combined both and brings the passion out in students from the Aligarh Muslim University.
The quarter-finalists conceded their match against Jain University from Bangalore in the Rohinton Baria All India Inter-University cricket championship by a margin of three-wickets. What makes them lethal though is their ability to bounce and hit back hard. The players - called the Northern Stallions -- now want to exact revenge and go the distance in the Toyota University Cricket Championship.
"There is a saying that he who emerges from here (Aligarh Muslim University) shines over the entire world. This is what me and my team intend on doing in the tournament," says Imran Saleem, captain of the team.
Saleem and his boys can draw confidence from the fact that a number of national players have shared their knowledge when they shared rooms and played cricket with them.
"I shared a room with Suresh Raina in 2001. I know him really well. We have exchanged cricketing tips as well," says a player, adding that some of his fellow teammates have played with Praveen Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.
Scores, results and famed seniors though are not the only measures with which this team assesses itself. For the players, much like their fellow students, conduct has always been as important as records in this 137-year old institution.
"Idara, Tehzeeb ul Akhlaq which means institution and behavior (respectively) are very important for us," says a team-member. Captain Saleem though is quick to mention that the entire team knows how to be good to those who are good but be competitive in the face of on-field resistance.
For a team that has emerged as the North Zone champion thrice in the last six years, the players epitomize this need to be competitive. Yet, they play the gentleman's sport in the manner and spirit in which it was always intended to be played. With a firm foundation, an exposure to the talented seniors and a high level of decorum, the cricket team from the Aligarh Muslim University poses a serious all-round challenge to their opponents.