There was a time when I used to get annoyed for missing TV serials or Movie on Doordarshan, because a cricket match was live. How much joy is it that now I am here to watch the ICC World Cup live – the match between India and Sri Lanka at Leeds on 6 July.
Though India has already earned its place in the top 4 the ground was filled with Indian fans. The blue tinge on the stadium was only matched by the green on the ground.
To be honest I am not a big cricket fan but I am married to a person who eats, breath, sleeps Cricket. An year ago when I saw him talking to his friends at 4.00 am, I was bit worried but then he clarified that they are trying to get the ICC World Cup tickets in lottery. Luckily we did got 2 tickets for India vs Sri Lanka game and here we are at Headingly Stadium in Leeds, UK.
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We started early morning from our hotel with a group of friends. While looking for parking, we noticed the tri-color flying all over the streets in Leeds. As soon as we saw this sight, our heart were filled with pride and we started floating with the tri-color wave. A large number of groups, both friends and families were gathered in front of the stadium, chanting “India” “India”. It’s amazing to see India shining in the game of Cricket in the very country that introduced the game to India. It was indeed a moment of pride and happiness for us.
Fans were taking pictures with the biggest fan of Dhoni (Chennai Super King) and Sudhir, a Tendulkar fan who travels all over the world and never missed any game of Sachin Tendulkar. I had watched them many times on TV but was fortunate to click pictures with them in person. On the other side there was a live TV reporting on NDTV and Aaj Tak by Boria Majumdaar.
I got a chance to stand next to him and chant with other fans for Team India and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.There were street hawkers selling Indian Flags and various CWC merchandise, but most interesting combination was an English man holding India and Sri Lanka flags together, which shows how cricket game brings all nations together.
Finally we entered the Stadium and watched players at net practice, and took our seats.
We got the best seat on east side, opposite the pitch length, so we had the best view of the entire ground.
Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat first. With Bhumrah and Jadeja’s bowling and Dhoni’s catch and Stumping, the entire environment got electrified. By taking 4 wickets of Sri Lanka in first hour India placed itself very strong, but still Mathews century got well deserved applaud.
Usually we can’t appreciate the fielding on TV but being live in Stadium we could appreciate every players efforts and how each of them contribute to his team.
During lunch time there was a long lines for food and extra long lines for Indian food, which included biryani, chole, pao bhaji and samosa. While their family members were waiting in lines rest of the fans were busy dancing on Dholak ki thaap. I couldn’t stop myself singing the song “ mere desh ki dharti..” with rest of the group.
With Rahul and Rohit, India came on ground in second half for batting. I don’t know if it was the electrifying energy of dholak thaap or fans shouting, ball kept hitting the boundary and India scored first 50 runs in short 7 overs.
When Rohit Sharma was close to his century, every single person was on their feet chanting “Rohit” “Rohit”. Rohit was the first wicket loss for India but we were happy that he could complete his century before leaving the ground. Virat Kohli was welcomed with similar energy and applause. Kohli helped Rahul completes his century and we were jumping on our seat. This is the first live cricket match of my life and can’t believe that we witnessed 3 centuries in one game. It was a soft dismissal of Rahul when his bat touched the wide ball and he got out at score of 111. Though Pant didn’t stay long on crease but Kohli and Pandya brought India to the finish line smoothly.
Watching live was not all about the game but experiencing the craziness and energy of crowds. It was an interesting sight to see how they dress or add costumes on their jersey to catch attention from TV camera. Though we were keeping an eye on Anushka, we also made new friends while analyzing each and every ball and hits. Knowing Sri Lankan fans were in minority, we clapped with them and enjoyed friendly rivalry. Overall it was a great game with even greater experience.