In spite of being an ardent cricket fan, I had never seen a cricket match inside a stadium. This time I made sure that the tickets were booked well in advance. The venue was the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi and the encounter was between the Delhi Daredevils and the Mumbai Indians. I was accompanied by one of my friends, needless to say, another cricket devotee.
It took us almost three hours to come up with three creative slogans for our placards for the IPL match.
1. <b>CONGRATS SACHIN!! </b>For making it to the <b>Indian Political Team!</b>
2. <b>THANX SET MAX for MAX FUN!!</b> (This one was a part of our strategy as we were sure that the cameras would reach us due to the false praise.) It took me almost an hour to draw a huge SET MAX logo on a chart paper.
3. <b>Sorry Honey, no date today, WORKING OVERTIME! </b>(the cameras generally focuses on such slogans, so we decided to make one of them as well)
The match was scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm. It was already 4:30 pm and we were aware of the traffic we might witness near the stadium. But I was not through with my preparations yet. We went to Sarojini Nagar to get some vuvuzelas. For the World Cup Final, I had purchased a huge Tricolour and half a dozen vuvuzelas to cheer the Men in Blue. We went to the same shop and bought two of them after which we boarded the Metro from INA to New Delhi. We were wearing the Mumbai Indians jersey and thus remained to be the centre of attraction everywhere. Some of the people even stared at our faces to see whether we were one of the players.
We were supposed to make entry from Gate Number 15 and after a lot of inquiry, we finally found the way towards it. The crowd had turned up in huge numbers and everybody had something in their hands to cheer their favourite team. While most of them wore the jersey’s of their favourite teams, many had their faces painted and different balloons and merchandise adorned the stadium. We entered the stadium and went to the third floor, the North East stand which was over long-off.
<b>The advantages of our seat were:</b>
1. It had a better view from the top which almost covered the entire ground.
2. We had a huge screen just in front of us.
3. The third floor was an open one and thus the pleasant weather added much more anxiety to my debut.
<b>The disadvantages were:</b>
1. We could not hear anything which made most of the crowd go berserk. The reason being that most of the speakers were installed in other areas.
2. It was a little difficult to recognize the players initially as they practiced on the ground but once the match began, we had no problems whatsoever.
3. And last but not the least, the cheerleaders were too far from us. Thus we weren’t a part of their celebrations when they cheered for boundaries and DLF maximums for their respective teams.
Though I wore a Mumbai Indians jersey, I have huge respect for the Delhi Daredevils. They have players like Mahela Jayawardene, who is one of the most honest cricketers to have played the game, Kevin Pietersen, who shows how boundaries can look elegant even from a right hander’s willow and Irfan Pathan, who according to me can be nurtured as one of India’s finest all-rounders. And they are led by Virender Sehwag, who is India’s most explosive opening batsman to have played the game.
But we were there for Sachin Tendulkar and thus we cheered for him and his team continuously for four hours. We rose to our feet on every wicket taken by Mumbai, and blew our vuvuzelas as hard as we could, in a specific rhythm. The crowd around us was too decent to react like us, though they thoroughly enjoyed our gestures, slogans and our spirit for the game.
Mumbai Indians ended up losing the game, but I was very happy to have experienced my first cricket match inside a stadium. The only grudge we had was that none of the cameras reached our slogans. But as we walked out after the match, several fans of Mumbai team came to us to borrow “CONGRATS SACHIN for making it to the Indian Political Team” placard and clicked photographs holding it. And that was it; we were finally rewarded for our hard work and creativity as well. Thus ended what was a memorable debut inside a cricket stadium for me.