I was sitting in the Obstetrics and Gynecology OPD, measuring BPs and weights and filling thick registers, when I hear that the tickets are available!!! I knew it was on 28th, but had totally forgotten that it was this month. And then I made the worst decision, I postponed the ‘Ticket buying ceremony’ by a day. That day I spent thinking about who will I go with, how many tickets will we need, what level tickets… only to find next day that the tickets are no longer available!! But if you live in India, ‘Sorry, the tickets are no longer available’ doesn’t say its over! I made a few calls, a friend knew someone, who could ask someone to get us a few tickets. So no harm done, the only downside was, we had the cheapest seats that there were! But that doesn’t bother a cricket fan. By the way, I was talking about a cricket match, but you got that!
The day arrived, and what happened that day was legendary!
We had learned from our past experiences to get to a cricket match well before time if you don’t want to miss anything. You just don’t walk into the stalls waving your tickets at the checker, you get past the traffic, find a parking slot, stand in a looooong queue, get frisked and then your companion loses their tickets, you spend some more time explaining it to the authorities, and then finally you get to the gate leading to your stall.
Now what I saw next was a scene Steven Spielberg would be proud to shoot. I walked up the stairs and I could see people sitting around, all pumped up… I went further and I saw more of them. There was a heavenly glow around. Everywhere I saw, everyone I saw, had a wild excitement in their eyes. And then I finally climbed in to my seat. It was just beautiful. Smooth green grass, neatly cut, a nice dry pitch in the center, wickets at both its end, two huge screens on my right… and the crowd, it was amazing. It was a mind numbing experience.
Once the view had sunk in, we started to wait for the players to get out. And when they did, it felt nothing like on TV. They were really there! It was great to see Sehwag and Tendulkar walk out of the pavilion and take their stance. And then it all started. Bowlers bowling, Batsman batting, fielders fielding… it was a show sync to harmony. It was like music for your eyes. Really good music.
But this wasn’t about how the players played, it was about the atmosphere. Literally, it was hot as hell. The first few hours the sun was scorching at 40 degrees trying to mellow us down. But that had little effect. The tricolour was being waved around everywhere, everyone would jump up at even the slightest sigh of aggression. And the Mexican wave, what should I say about it? It just didn’t seem to stop.
The Indians batted through the sun and as the sun started to set, we had shouted our throats sour. We were piling runs like it was some backup team from Bangladesh we were playing against. With a beautiful century by Dhoni, we had pocketed a decent 354, and the players walked back to the pavilion (the Australians with their heads down.)
The flood lights had come up by now. And I never knew a stretch of green grass could look so beautiful. With the glow from the four huge flood lights towering above us, it was magical.
A few minutes later the entire Indian squad came out, stretching, running, throwing the ball around. And soon they scattered in a neat field formation. Pravin Kumar and Nehra started the massacre. The Indians, when they were batting, had the ball cover every inch of the ground. But the Aussies just couldn’t connect. With the wickets falling at the right time, no Australian looked dangerous. These cold blooded hunters were easily tamed by the Indians.
At the end, India won with Australia still 99 runs short. But even a hundred grand HD screen or cinema display can ever replace the experience that those cheap tickets gave us. I felt like a kid in a toy store. The excitement, the entertainment, the emotions, the enthusiasm that a live cricket match brings can hardly be felt from that comfy sofa of your home.