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Backing their heroes, crowd soaks in history

They were not heard at all in the first three days but when India needed a few voices from the stands when the chips were down, they got some on the last two days of the fourth Test.

cricket Updated: Nov 11, 2008 01:11 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

They were not heard at all in the first three days but when India needed a few voices from the stands when the chips were down, they got some on the last two days of the fourth Test. There were about 8000 to scream their team out of trouble, even though a vast majority of the seats was empty.

They were right behind their stars when India started after tea on Day 4, having lost six wickets in the previous session and in desperate need of a partnership. Apart from the loose deliveries Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh got, there were also vociferous chants of 'India, India' with horns blowing in the background.

And on Monday when Matthew Hayden cut loose and Harbhajan Singh changed ends to bowl from the pavilion end in the seventh over after lunch, a Sikh man in a white jacket sitting right below the press box started an inspirational "Jo bole so nihal…" which was followed by an instant roar 'India, India'.

This is not why Hayden fell in the second ball of that over, but definitely a reminder that players do at times lift their game by a notch once the crowd gets behind them. "You cherish it the most. These are spontaneous expressions of appreciation without agendas," said Sourav Ganguly.

The non-availability of daily tickets, more than anything else, kept the crowds away. "Who will come to the ground all five days?" asked Harvinder Singh, who started that chorus before Harbhajan got Hayden. "It's a question of squeezing out time. I had to take leave to come today. That season tickets cost more is not a factor," said Harvinder, who works at the National Academy of Direct Taxes and is also a badminton coach.

Others who came to witness the last day's action agreed and said distance was also not a problem, though the stadium is about 15km away from the centre of the city. "We don't mind the distance because parking arrangements are good. You would have seen more of us if there were daily tickets," said Shirish Gode, a government employee.

Empty stands in a pretty stadium was a sore sight in this momentous Test match, although things improved in a miniscule level on the last two days. It helped because there were at least a few thousands to scream 'Dada, Dada' one last time