How does it feel to have the entire universe conspire against you? For an answer, ask any Class 10 or 12 student in Kerala who will have to miss the cricket World Cup as the dates overlap with the state and central board exams. “My parents have declared that there will be no matches for me. They are getting ready to pack the TV into a box and it will be opened only after my exams are over. They have decided to take leave alternatively during my exams,” rues J. Ashwin, a Class 12 student here. But not everyone is giving up without a fight. Class 10 student Allan Varghese has his battle plan ready. “Me and my parents have worked out a plan. They have agreed to allow me to watch a bit of the live matches. I have told them that only study and no leisure will not be good for me. Watching TV, especially cricket, will ease my exam tension,” he said. The much-awaited cricketing extravaganza begins on Feb 19 and continues till April 2. Being hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, cricket fans are in for a treat spread over 49 one-day matches. Fans, except these students, that is. Beginning on March, hundreds of thousands of Class 10 and 12 students of state boards as well as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Indian School Certificate (ISC) will appear for their make or break board exams. One can almost hear their collective wail, especially as parents in the state are known to put a lot of stress on academics. An estimated 1.2 million students are set to appear for the Kerala board exams. The parents and teachers, meanwhile, are in no mood to relent. “In no way can the students afford to take exams in a relaxed manner because it could well alter the course of their future. Parents are in the best position to guide their children in a proper manner during this period,” K. Varghese, principal of a premier school here. The situation for Class 12 students, in fact, is Shakesperean in its tragedy. No sooner have they done with board exam than they will have to face gruelling entrance exams for various professional courses like engineering and medicine. “Our son will have to be mentally prepared that he will not be given permission to watch TV because World Cups will come and go, but entrance exams are serious business where one mark less means hundreds of ranks behind,” said a doctor mother in Kochi. Chacko Mathew, a farmer whose son is appearing for his Class 10 exams, is not worried at all. Why? Because he cannot afford a dish TV connection, and his local cable does not air pay channels! “In a way, it is a relief for us because I am told that barring India matches, nothing else will be relayed on the national network. So I have made it clear to my son that he will be given time to watch only the highlights of India's matches. “He will be free on the 26th of next month and can watch the semi-finals and final and a portion of one quarter final match which happens on the day his exam gets over,” said Mathew.