Among the many firsts I had in my fellowship journey, I am going to share about one of the most special one. I had been a cricket fanatic since forever and had longed to watch a cricket match directly in a stadium. The last I watched was once in a stadium in Kanpur when I was a kid and I had really faint memories of that. Now, being in NCR, I really had to grab the opportunity of watching a match in the beautiful Feroz Shah Kotla!
It was an IPL match between Pune and Delhi. Though not a huge IPL fan, I had players I loved in both teams and so I booked tickets for 5th May and eagerly started waiting for the day. Feroz Shah Kotla was huge and beautiful. It is the second oldest international stadium still functional in India after the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Now as we reached near the stadium that day, the most incredible thing happened. The cool orange bus that carries the cricketers to the ground just happened to cross by. Now, somehow luckily we were there at the same time when the bus passed by. I just couldn’t believe that there was nothing in between me and a bus full of cricketers. I saw my favourite Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane with his headphones, Irfan Pathan, Sam Billings, George Bailey and lots of other cricketers waving to the people on the road. I swear I was so close to them that I could just tell the exact skin shade of Irfan Pathan’s face. At that very moment I thought to myself, whether the match turns out to be interesting or not, I have had my share of fun.
As I walked into the stands I was immediately reminded of the scene from Kai Po Che when Ali comes out to bat. With over 40000 people yelling at the top of their voices, it felt like one was entering a cauldron. For a moment, I just looked around at the stands, at the people and at the field. It all looked so surreal, so beautiful, so awesome. I could just wonder on what it must feel for a cricketer to make his debut in front of such a vociferous crowd.
The first innings started with the Delhi team batting. Except for Duminy’s performance there wasn’t anything magical and they somehow managed to give Pune a decent score total of 162 runs. This entire time, my focus was on cheering was Dhoni. We met a couple of equally crazy Dhoni fans and together with them, suddenly the entire stadium could hear loud Dhoni cheers out of somewhere for no apparent reason. So much so, that it actually made Dhoni turn and wave at all of us because we just wouldn’t stop. I just wished time stopped then. It couldn’t have been crazier.
There were people hooting and yelling all around. After every over, the DJ used to play some song or the other from Party Abhi Baaki Hai to Lat Lag Gayee much to the delight of the crowd who were dancing as if it were a party. The IPL tune in particular used to make people go crazy. And then there was also the Mexican wave which the whole stadium did almost 8 times with such amazing coordination across different stands. It felt like a carnival. Truth be told, cricket was a small part of the puzzle.
Though there were a couple of good batting and bowling performances by Duminy, Rahane, Ashwin, it was a dream come true to see M.S Dhoni bat in style and those two sixes above her heads in our stand when it mattered the most were brilliant. In the end, Pune won the match leaving the entire Delhi crowd in the stadium disappointed. It was a fantasic night! Though the cricketing purists may not like it, the party and carnival like feel of an IPL game is sure to keep it popular among people of all ages for years to come!