Valentine’s Day had a different beginning for a bunch of cricket fans from Canberra. A once-in-a- lifetime opportunity presented
itself in the India versus Pakistan World
Cup clash in Australia!
We were among the lucky few who got
tickets in the golden first hour after which
they were sold out.
A friend who works in the hospitality
industry ensured we found accommodation at reasonable rates, a 12-seater was
rented and it was ‘Game On’!
It took some amount of TLC, but we
managed to get passes to be away from
our better halves on Valentine’s Day :)
Looking at India’s performances in the
tri-series, we kept our expectations low
and were looking forward to enjoying the
company of friends on a road trip to
The drive from Canberra to Adelaide is
about 14 hours, including breaks and, for a
major portion of the drive, it is one of the
most boring stretches of road you’ll see.
As we approach Adelaide, the barren
land starts turning green. You know then
that you are nearing one of Australia’s best
known wine producing regions, the
Barossa valley, and your mercury starts
rising as if in anticipation of the hottest
match of the World Cup.
Adelaide was a scorching 40 degrees
Celsius on Valentine’s Day and predicted
to be no better on match day.
The city center was taken over by crowd
of cricket fans wearing different varieties
of Team India shirts, from years ago to the
most recent, from fakes to the originals to
the creative! It looked like Adelaide’s
Indian population had jumped by 15,000
to 20,000 that weekend :).
This was one of the days you would
always be greeted with a smile no matter
which part of the country you came from.
It was amazing to see how much solidarity
this one game brings.
For the first time, I understood the pressure on this bunch of 11 players representing Team India.
As hordes and hordes of Indian fans
descended on the city, I realized these supporters weren’t here to watch an exciting
game of cricket, they weren’t here to be
part of the most famous of all cricket rival-ries, they were here for one reason, and
one reason alone — to watch India win!
It would have been a good idea for the
locals to avoid the city center on Sunday as
the streets were blanketed by a never end-
ing stream of blue who walked towards
the stadium as though they owned the
city.....for the day, at least :)
Finally, at the stadium, I saw the first
‘biggish’ group of Pakistani fans who were
making up for their lack of numbers by
loud cheering, singing and dancing.
In what would be a familiar pattern
throughout the game, this show of support
would be quickly drowned by the over-
whelming crowd of Indian fans.
The Adelaide Oval was prepared for this
onslaught of 40,000-plus fans going
through its gates. I must say I didn’t see
any long queues, which meant the staff
was quickly managing the flow of people
through the stadium.
As you entered the stadium, you couldn’t
help but feel you were entering a Roman
Coliseum, ready for the ‘gladiators’ from
the two teams to come out and duel with
Technology has increased in leaps and
bounds but the ‘smartest’ of TVs will not
be able to capture the electric atmosphere
inside a stadium filled with 40,000 roar-
From the chanting of ‘Jeetega bhai jeete-
ga’ to the roar when Virat Kohli stepped
out to bat, from the absolute silence when
he departed to the jumping up and down
for every wicket, four or six, it is an experi-
ence every cricket fan (or not) should
experience at least once in their lives.
Sunday, February 15, was a bad day to be
a Pakistani cricket fan.
For a limited period in the last five overs
of the Indian batting, and the first 10 to 12
overs of Pakistan’s batting, they really had
nothing to cheer about.
Add to that, with the exception of one
small section in the stands, Pakistani fans
who were nestled in between the tide of
blue were quickly quietened by the weight
of sheer numbers.
Although this was the outcome we want-
ed, considering we drove over 14 hours to
get to Adelaide and had a reasonable
amount of expenses, there was one thing
that made me feel bad about being an
Indian cricket supporter.
It was the insensitivity of some Indian
Where they should have been enjoying
the success of the Indian team, they
seemed to revel in putting down Pakistani
fans at every opportunity. ‘Jeetega bhai
jeetega’ was interspersed with shouts of
‘Harega bhai harega’ or ‘Go home.’
I realized what it feels to be a minority
and it’s a shame that some section of the
crowds refused to be inclusive, putting a
dampener on the spirit of humanity and
the spirit of the game.
I felt sorry to see a young family of
Pakistani supporters move away from
where we were and sit in the section of
the stadium that had the most Pakistani
Why aren’t we able to allow every one
who comes to watch the game enjoy the
day without having to feel intimidated?
As we drive back to Canberra, I won-
dered what the mood in the car would be
like had India lost!
Thank you, Team India :).
Bitter chocolate for
a fan of the game
At the cricket World Cup’s final much before the final, some Indian fans seemed to revel in putting down Pakistani fans at every opportunity, rues Suraj Suvarna, who watched the India-Pakistan game at Adelaide
Virat Kohli celebrates his century
Snapshots from the stands.
SCOTT BARBOUR/GE TT Y IMAGES
PHOTOGRAPHS: SURAJ SUVARNA