For the British Indians who've danced and sung into and out of India’s games, the T20 cricket, and the World T20 in particular, is opportunity to touch base with their past in a format widely deemed to be the future of the game.
It's a fun tournament and everyone's in the stadium to have a ball, but Indians and Pakistanis are the most vocal and raucous of them all. The tournament opens another front in the rivalry between Indian and Pakistani populations. While players of Indian and Pakistani lineage have played for England, the World Cup gives them a chance to scream, yell and cry for the teams of the countries they've left behind.
Jasvinder Singh, who'd driven from Leeds to Nottingham for the match against Ireland, said: “We're proud of this Indian team — they're the world champions, the best team in the world!”
The Indian fans are especially proud of the fact that the team is the reigning world champion in T20 cricket. Queen's iconic song, We are the Champions has almost become a staple of the India games. India’s win in South Africa in 2007 has almost given the Brit fans the license to walk in to any game in the tournament, loudly singing the song.
“It is not very often that we are the reigning champions, is it?” Neil, a third generation British Indian, explains. “We have to let the whole world know that we are the champions, the best. That is why you'll see these Indian fans going to games involving the likes of Pakistan and England with an Indian flag in hand and the Champions chat on their lips.”
It is not hard to see why T20 cricket is the rage around these parts. First the World Cup victory in South Africa gave Indian fans a chance, for the first time for many, a chance to call themselves champions. And then, the advent, and eventual success of the IPL only helped these fans in proving a point to the rest of the world.
“The English might have invented the game, and this format, but India have taken it to the world. We are the champions, the brains behind the IPL. And now, all these Aussie and English players come flocking to play in the IPL. It makes us very proud,” Jignesh Patel, a fan, told me at the Oval.
“People of Asian origin are keener about T20 cricket,” said John Finch, a volunteer steward at Trent Bridge. “They're more passionate, and they celebrate victory or mourn defeat with greater excitement. The native British population is keen about T20, but I think they're keener about Test cricket or even ODIs, which require greater strategy and planning.”
It has been one big party for the Indian fans so far, they would be hoping it lasts till the 21st.