Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My experience during the India v Australia match of World Cup 2011

There were more than 5000 people in and around the stadium 5 hours before the match started. All roads led to the stadium. Everyone that knew anyone was asking for tickets. The security people were all over the place. Everyone was running around to see to it that everything is in place or maybe because they wanted to complete their work before the players came out to practice. I had a stadium pass. 

I was at the entrance gate a lot before the match started. The enthusiam of the spectators coming in and shouting "India India" was infectious. I sometimes got overwhelmed. It looked as if the entire country was coming in. People of all shapes, sizes and costumes. Everyone was happy. Everyone was excited. They were not spectators. They were followers of a religion. Cricket. 

Personalized T-shirts, funny caps, fundo hairdo, posters and variotions in their chants. All this and more 2 hours before the match. A cricket match is possibily the only place where people come in before time. They come in and stare at even the roller rolling the feild. All eyes go towards the pavilion, Just to see if they can catch a glimpse of a Dhoni or a Harbhajan. Sachin waving or even smiling at a section of a crowd would send the entire block into a frenzy. I don't think Sachin is God because there are a few people who don't believe in God but with Sachin, no one is an exception. He is worshipped. He is....beyond words.
The match. Australia to bat. All dots balls were cheered. All near chances Ah-ed. Pointing was the center of hatred. Maybe because of his previous comments or maybe because he is someone everyone loves to hate. 260 was a competitive score. The match hung in the balance at the break. The 40 minute break flew by. 

Sachin who was welcomed to crease with the cheer that only he can recieve, crashed his first ball to be boundary and the crowd went high. Chanting, dancing, swearing (a lot) and at the edge of their seat. People started standing up as soon as the bolwer began his run up. It was as if the spectators were facing the devilery and not the batsmen. Every boundary was greeted with thunderous noise. Everytime the DJ on the field played Chak De , everyone stood up and sung as if it was the National Anthem.

Good bolwing, fielding was appreciated. Sledging was boo-ed. It actually gave the crowd extra strength. Some of the words spoken would put a roadside mawali to shame. 

The 2nd innigings had more twists and turns then an Monaco racing track. Dhoni caught by a high flying Clarke and then the DJ playing Thunderstruck was just plain ironic. 

The ending was the most emphatic moment of them all. Yuvraj's expression after hitting the boundary was priceless, to say the least. The swing of the bat and the roar will be etched in the minds of cricket fans for years to come. He showed how much this win meant for him and the rest of the country. The crowd went out of control. There was a very loud combined cheer of a YEAAAH!! from the entire stadium. People were jumping. Couples were hugging. Music was playing. Crowd was swaying. It took about 5 minutes for the feeling to sink in and for people to stop shouting and jumping over one another. Spectators bowed dow to Yuvraj. It was hesteric. The feeling cannot be described. It is something that only people in the stadium can feel can understand. 

It seemed as if, for a moment in time, we were all connected. Just for that instance, nothing mattered. There were no worries, no problems. The legs which were tired could not stop jumping. The soar throat got new life. The guy in the neighbouring seat who gave his own commentary all throughout the match was the one you gave high-fives to. Congratulatory messages were sent to everyone and anyone we knew. It showed that it was not just a team victory. It was India who had won and we being Indias deserved to be congratulated. Spectators don't just watch cricket. They feel it. They are a part of the action. They are emotional about it. Spectotors held the flag close as if it was their dearest and the most precious posession. INDIA INDIA chants were all that could be heard. The roads were filled with people who could not make it to the stadium. Everyone would have slept with a smile on their face. Arguably, the best day of my life. :) 

Cricket is not a religion. It is something that makes people forget that there are different religions. It is not just a sport. It is a movement that has a billion followers in the country. 

Now, 30th March. National Holiday anyone? 

Pakistan, here we come.

P.S. - As we all know, India later on went on to beat Pakistan and later on won the World Cup. India, champions of cricket 2011. Indian and proud. 

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