There were tired bodies, sleepy eyes and hoarse voices at the Nagpur airport on Sunday morning. Scores of India fans from different parts of the country were on the way to their next destinations.
Apart from the physical state, something else was common between them. Irrespective of their
social, economic and geographical status, they were dejected. MS Dhoni may or may not pay heed to these sentiments, but it's they who make the India cricketers the stars they are.
"What can you say about them?" said Steven Bains, a police officer who works in Bedford, England. The man with roots in Jalandhar was in Nagpur with wife Rita, and although the "experience of being at the stadium was unforgettable", the way India showed up was not.
"They all went for superstar shots, while they could have done with some sensible cricket. Taking singles would have sufficed, given the position we were in," said Bains. "And I don't know what's keeping them from giving R Ashwin a game."
According to Prathamesh, a shop owner from Raipur, Chhattisgarh, giving the last over to Ashish Nehra was sacrilegious. "Why him, after he went for so many in his previous overs?" asked the man in his mid-20s, hardly audible, having screamed his throat beyond repair the previous night. "Why on earth did Dhoni not save (Zaheer) Khan for the last over," implored the diehard fan, on the verge of tears.
Steven, Rita and Prathamesh are just a small sample from among a sea of India fans who endure the pain of going to the stadium on a hot afternoon, stand in the queue for hours, don't care about the standard of the facilities provided and spend a lot just to be part of the Indian cricketing experience for one day.
Anand, a banker from New Delhi, was another. "It was my first day at a cricket ground for an India match. It was great to see Sachin Tendulkar score a hundred, but what did they do after that?" he, pleaded.
Together, they form the mass that sustains cricket in the country where it's religion or opium, whatever you call it. When they talk about the pain of losing, one must take it seriously. Many like them will be in Chennai too. Dhoni's men will be determined to pull it off, especially for the sake of this loyal bunch.
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