One of the images that will stay with me for a long time is that of the lady from the cleaning staff of the MAC stadium in Chennai, running up to Sachin Tendular, shaking his hand, and blushing and running back. I was not planning to watch the match in the stadium. One of my friends asked if I would be interested and I said ‘Yes’. When we walked into the stadium Dravid was already gone. Gambir and Sachin were at the crease. ‘Same old story!’ I thought but I was wrong.
Let me assure you that being there with the crowd is a fantastic experience. If you want to understand and experience the Indian Cricket Mania, go watch it in the stadium. I saw old men, with packed lunches, sharing their wisdom with strangers. “Now, he will bring the forward short-leg.” the old man told the guy sitting next to him and to my amazement, KP did bring in a short-leg fielder.
The guy sitting behind me has an amplifier in this vocal cords I think. He kept screaming at Sachin. “Thambi! Paathu daa kanna. Rahu kalam will pass at 1 PM. Go for your fifty then!” and “Otha oyeee! Flitooffu, oootukku poi sera maattey!” He was with his sister and two nephews. He was screaming at his nephews “Otha saapda vandheengla match paakka vandhingala? Lavadeykabaal!”
He was actually having a conversation with Sachin. He reminded me of my friend’s brother who used to ‘put mandhiram’ when the opposition was playing. No, he actually believed he got India wickets with his ‘spells’.
The TNCA lunch was delicious. It was a typical Iyer lunch. So the veggies had a lot of fun. During lunch I overheard an old man recounting a story from the 80s to his friend. Another TNCA staffer predicted that Sehwag would be the Man-of-the-match. Another was rattling out statistics on all the winning 4th innings chases and a break down on successful chases in the sub-continent.
As I walked back in to my seat, I thought ‘Hope Sachin finishes this one unlike that Pakistan match!’ A shudder went up my spine. The master did not make that mistake this time. The mad guy behind me was now coaxing Sachin by screaming ‘Thambi, come back for tea, don’t get out now!’ I also found it enchanting that the crowd applauded good fielding efforts by England. I don’t think you’ll see a better sporting crowd in this country.
To watch VVS hit those sublime drives is sheer joy. I don’t think there will be another artistic Indian batsman as VVS: his silken touch, grace, and elegance is beyond human comprehension.
The only regret I have is Dravid’s horrific form. I hope this man bounces back fast enough, for it would be a shame to watch one of the greatest batsmen this game has ever seen, walk away in the shadows of obscurity: unsung and hurt.
Just before tea Yuvi hit a massive six off Monty. Somehow, I realized that we were going to win. We still needed 100 plus runs but I knew the result. Indian cricket is in good hands. The guy sitting behind echoed that thought by saying ‘Apdeedhaan thambi, Kulla, nee weight machi!’
P.S. I did not translate the Tamil in this post. You need a Chennai boy to translate the slang. Sorry!