When he's not spending time with his family or working, Zafar tries to immerse himself in the world of cricket. But finding time to do so isn't always easy. Ramadan gives Zafar, and others like him, an excuse to carve out time. Because the men can eat and drink only after sunset, it makes sense to reserve evenings for exercise.
This was the first time the men rented out the stadium. It was a far cry from how they first played in the U.S. in 2010. That year they played in the parking lot of the Best Buy in Yorba Linda. By 2011, the games ballooned and nearly 100 people wanted to take part.
But because of the lack of space, the games fizzled out over the next several years. But this year, Sharjeel Muhammad, 44, a passionate cricketer, and several friends wanted to revive the matches in honor of their fellow sportsman Zeeshan Khamisani, who died of brain cancer in 2018.
By 3 a.m. another match was underway, and Minhaj Berket gasped for air as he ran after the ball. He decided to take a quick break. He walked toward the dugout where his 10-year-old son, Aayan, waited.
"You're not doing too well out there," Aayan said to his father. "Your first pitch was slow."
Berket smiled and placed his hand over his son's head.
Aayan is a quiet kid with a slender physique. He wore an oversized sweater with a hoodie and a black baseball cap to shield himself from the cold. Meanwhile, his father sported a short-sleeve T-shirt and black running pants.
It was the first time Aayan had joined his father for a midnight game of cricket. Both father and son prayed at a nearby mosque before making their way to the stadium that evening.
The pair stood side by side and looked out at the field. Above the dugout a few men huddled together, smoked cigarettes and drank cups of tea sweetened with sugar and condensed milk.
"Shabash!" Berket shouted to a teammate who was out batting. Good job.