Virat Kohli mania part of support for Indian team in ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Virat Kohli’s magnificent performance as captain and batsman of the Indian cricket team in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 has resulted in enormous support with every game being a ‘home’ game in all venues.icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 15, 2017 09:30 IST
The annual migration of Indians to England during summer was aptly described by an observer: It’s bizarre that you fly out of Palam, arrive at Heathrow and feel like having landed back in Delhi!
This summer, all Indians, whether from London or Delhi, are cheering for the Indian team and if Virat was a candidate in last week’s election in England, he would have won hands down .He is the new star and after years of Sachiiiin, Sachiiin, the loud chant across cricket grounds is Kohliii, Kohliii. The buzz, the aura, the power and energy around Virat is unmistakable.
That he is special, supremely confident and has a decisive front-foot trigger movement is well documented .That Virat can hold his own and take on both friend and foe is also no state secret. That he is not one to be awed by any person or occasion was evident at the reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner at Lord’s Long Room.
As the MC for the evening went around asking Mike Brearley, Andrew Strauss and others about India-England cricket, the guests present were busy chatting. Irked by this rather rude disturbance, Kohli quickly stepped in to request everyone, politely but firmly, to listen to the interesting cricket conversation and keep the socialising bit for later. Result of this gentle rebuke on the invited audience: hushed silence!
In England, Kohli mania is part of the enormous support for the Indian team. For them, every match, in Birmingham or Oval, is a ‘home’ game. Indian fans fill the stadiums and add colour, flavour and lots of noise to cricket in England. Traditionally, matches here are played in front of an appreciative crowd in dignified, respectful silence.
For India games, however, the norm has changed: cricket is now high octane, high decibel, dholak and dhamaal entertainment.
Not just ordinary stands, even top end corporate boxes/executive suites are run over by Indian fans. Cricket attracts everyone, the elite and the ordinary, and such is the cultural fusion, it is not unusual for the entitled to drink champagne, eat chaat papri and animatedly discuss the subtleties of cricket in English conditions.
The Oval, venue for the Champions Trophy, is traditionally an India-friendly ground. In the main pavilion is a marble tablet put up by Raj Singh Dungarpur (former BCCI president ) to commemorate Indo-British cricket. The more recent Vauxall Stand has an India Room inaugurated in 2005 by Sachin Tendulkar, funded by generous patrons Gulam Noon, Hinduja Foundation, Nat Purie and the Bagri brothers among others.
The Indian team played three day Test matches at the Oval, first in 1936 and later in 1946. Vijay Merchant was the star performer on both occasions, scoring 52, 48 and 129 in the three innings he played.
In 1971, Ajit Wadekar’s India beat England for the first time with Chandrasekhar getting 6 for 38. In 1979, there was crushing heartbreak at the Oval: Chasing 438 in the last innings, India, at one stage 366 for 1, fell short by 8 despite SMG’s monumental 221 constructed over eight hours of batting.
Every Indian fan, whether the Palam to Heathrow/ Palam variety or the hardcore local English, is hoping India does a Lord’s at the Oval. Kapil Dev in 1983, King Kohli this Sunday.
(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with the IPL in official capacity)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author