This was a googly for people who know me, for I’m known to exhibit disinterest in the game of cricket and show an apathetic attitude whenever anyone speaks about it. But on Monday 28th Nov, I witnessed the live clash of the champions – India and South Africa at the fifth one day international (ODI) match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Prachi, my bachpan ki friendi had got free passes for the two of us.
While in the queue for security checks, the gigantic structure of the cricket stadium which had a theoretical capacity of accommodating 40,000 spectators looked overwhelming. Add to that the sound emerging out of the colossal construction, and it is bound to raise your heartbeat to exciting levels.
We entered the stadium and hopelessly tried to get to our seats. Soon we gave up the effort as, evidently, the number of people in the stands was at least twenty percent greater than those allowed and it was too crowded to move. This was verified by newspapers next day which proclaimed that about 10,000 extra tickets were sold – that’s 25% more. phew! The crowd was dominated by youngsters and more importantly – considerable number of pretty ones
Finding our way to the top row and settling down, I took some time to understand what was happening around. Tens of thousands of people – young and old, men and women, all dressed up in colorful clothes, with banners, flags, placards, posters, etc waving in air. Most of the people were on their feet and chanting slogans or simply jumping around and screaming at the top of their voice. The stadium rocked in union when the South African team arrived to bat and Indian team to field.
Collective energy of the crowd when converted would have been able to provide power to the whole city. All occasions – SA wicket, or Indian fours, sixes and even quick singles were awarded with thunderous applause and cheering by the crowd. The spirit of sportsmanship was evident as the fans clapped and acknowledged sharp fielding or good bowling by the guest team. Even the home team was not spared by the jeering when they made any mistakes.
Highlights were the sizzling innings by Saching Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. Rahul Dravid played the captain’s innings and won the match for us.
Important thing I realized was that the cricketers who are just few feet away from us are simple human beings. Like other humans, they slip, fall, goof up, and do all natural errors. It’s quite easy to watch them on TV and blame them for everything, but the pressure under which they perform under the scanner of a live audience – Indian audience – is definitely commendable.
And now I’m addicted. Let’s see when I can get the next chance!