Monday, February 28, 2011

What a game!!

What a game!! My emotions went through the entire roller coaster of ecstasy as Sachin Tendulkar made his 98th international hundred and India put in a supreme batting performance, despondency as England for all money looked to be on course to win with overs to spare, hope for a great England collapse always remained at the back of my mind and the sheer delirium of THOSE overs when India almost looked like they pulled off a Houdini. In the end I think the tie was a fair result that left both teams satisfied with the extra point, after having lost all hopes of a win at separate junctures during the game, while at the same time feeling hard done by for not delivering the killer blow that would have landed them full points.
Chinnaswamy Stadium Map
The day had started in complete contrast with a 1km long queue that took us more than an hour to negotiate to get into the stadium from Gate 16. I went for the game with a friend, Advit Sahdev and was lucky that he found a friend in the queue, which we joined midway with him at about 1250pm entering the stadium at about 2pm. I was reading reports of the thousands of people who ended up in the same queue outside gate 16 and ended up missing a significant part of India’s innings. It is with great amusement that I read KSCA spokesperson Sujith Somasundar’s statement regarding the last minute sale of online tickets as being the reason for the delay in entry when it took just me just 10 minute outside the stadium conversing with locals to understand the real reason behind the insane queuing time.

Gate 16 catered to the entire H & G stand with a capacity of over 11,250 spectators as mentioned by Sujith Somasundar. Due to the ongoing work at the Bangalore metro adjoining the stadium the entire area behind the North & East stand, where gates are usually in operation on that side of the stadium, was cordoned off. For the equivalent area catering to stands A,B,C,D,E,P3 and P4 there were 5 gates (Gates 11-15) that I walked past where the queues were obviously much more manageable. Is it too much to expect organizers at the Chinnaswamy to think of these issues and put measures in place to ensure that the paying spectators are not inconvenienced?

Stand G at the beginning of game
To top it all there was no numbered seating at any of the stands except for the VIP seats. So after the struggle with getting into the stadium, one was faced with the next struggle of locating seats together in a reasonable location where the view was not obstructed by the huge pillars that seem to be a major part of the DNA of Chinnaswamy stadium. We struggled around for another 20 minutes to find decent seats before the police opened the gates between stand G (which was completely empty) and stand H (for which we had tickets, but which was overflowing with spectators). We finally ended up with fantastic seats with a great side on view of proceedings. What did surprise me however were the number of empty seats when the match started. While the spectators making a delayed entry played a part, a large number of seats were still empty for the duration of the game, which I found a little surprising given the entire madness around the sale of tickets of Bangalore that led to the lathi-charge the day tickets went on sale.
Still empty seats with India 16/0
Indian National Anthem - DO NOT MISS, followed by World Cup theme song

The average Indian cricket fan takes all these inconveniences in his stride and continues to throng the stadiums. I had taken the morning 645am flight from Delhi to Bangalore and came across 4-5 diverse groups of people, father/son, 5-6 office colleagues, 3-4 DINKY (Double Income No Kids.. Yet) couples, who were travelling to Bangalore for the match. The number of travelling supporters for the Indian team might actually not be as small as I think it is and I plan to keep my eyes and ears open to check more of this phenomenon in the matches to come.
The fans, BCCI take notice

The fan story that tugged my heart was of this elderly gentleman seated right next to me who had come to watch the game with his nephew. The gentleman was more than 75 years in age, walked with a very slow shuffle but without the aid of a walking stick and was carrying his dentures with him. He lives with his family in the USA but was in India to attend the funeral of a cousin who had passed away and was leaving for the US the day after the match. He wanted to attend the match as he felt this would be his last opportunity to do so in India. He and his nephew had bought tickets in black from outside the stadium, braved the queue, the heat and the struggle to find a seat inside the stadium. They could not find 2 seats together and while the gentleman sat next to us his nephew ended up sitting in the row behind us. Right after Sachin’s century he asked me for my flag and got on his feet to wave the flag while getting his photograph clicked, with the enthusiasm of a 10 year old, to the loudest cheer of the night from the gallery that we were seated in. I hope Sharad Pawar, Ratnakar Shetty and their ilk in the BCCI sometimes get the opportunity to get away from their AC boxes and their pressing engagements of hobnobbing with the glitterati to spend some time with the real fans. Probably spending a day at a game without their AC boxes, catered food and reserved parking, queuing up like mere mortals is what is required to sensitize them to the improvements that are required to make attending a game a family event for the ordinary spectator rather than the ordeal it is currently.

Sachin moves from 95 to 102, century reached at 1:20 
This was my first time watching a match away from centers in the North. I have seen international matches in Delhi, Faridabad and Mohali and the first thing that struck me about the crowd in Bangalore was their fairness. The crowd was decent enough to remain silent during England’s national anthem and applaud when the anthem was completed. In spite of the likeliness of an upset increasing with each passing landmark the crowd was generous in its applause for all landmarks reached by Strauss (including the reasonably insignificant landmark, in the context of the game, for 4000 runs in ODI cricket) and the rest of the batsmen. During the now infamous Bell UDRS review, chants of “Cheating.. Cheating” broke out from all around the stadium. Strauss was about to reach his century in the over or two after the botched review and I was thinking that the crowd might end up booing him, the mighty applause he got for his century put those fears to rest. A word though about the review, no-one in the stadium knew about the 2.5m rule and everyone in the stadium was perplexed about why Bell was called back. It was only after 3-4 overs post the event that I got to know the reason for Bell getting the review in his favour, after speaking to a friend over the phone. A similar event in the knock-out stage vs Pakistan could very well lead to a riot, stadium authorities would do well to take some steps about keeping the spectators informed lest emotions boil over a la Kolkata in 1996.
 A small but boisterous section of the Barmy Army was also sitting in our side of the stands. They were singing quite a few of their patented chants but the “Cheerios Cheerios” chant on the dismissal of every Indian batsman is something that caught the fancy of the locals who made a “See you.. See You” chant of their own to sing after every English dismissal. During THOSE overs of the batting powerplay that changed the game, the chants, singing and dancing took on an almost manic, intoxicated nature with the crowd feeding off the energy of one another to create an atmosphere I have never ever experienced at any sporting event in spite of having been lucky enough to have been present, among others,  when Kumble took all 10 vs Pakistan, when Yuvi hit those 6 sixes or when India won the T20 World Cup.
Crowd chants as Zaheer bowls during the batting powerplay
Video of last ball as the match is tied

DND, Consultant at work
Inspite of the “action every ball” nature of this match and the sometimes frenzied atmosphere, I found time for a few snoozes here and there. It had been a crazy week in which I travelled to Mumbai on Wednesday night for a team offsite returning at almost midnight on Saturday night before waking up at 445am to take the 630am flight to Bangalore. Consecutive nights from Wed to Sat with 4hr, 6hr, 4.5hr, 4.5hr of sleep interspersed with boozy, networking nights at the offsite had taken a toll before I arrived in Bangalore and while that is probably not a valid excuse I guess age is catching up. So the next time a TV camera zooms on a spectator snoozing in the most exciting phase of the match, don’t laugh, he might be a consultant balancing his working lifestyle with the love of following his favourite team in action :) Thankfully, I now get a weekend off to recover (flying all the way back to Bangalore for Ireland didn’t seem worth it) and will be attending India vs Netherland in Delhi on the 9th of March, work permitting.


  1. Nice posts .. It was super fun out there

  2. Thanks Advit.. the matchw as really good fun :) Did you go for the India vs Ireland match?

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