They flocked to the Barabati Stadium from all corners of the city on Tuesday. It was no wonder that three hours before the start of play, there was hardly any space for a two-wheeler to be parked along the sprawling river bed, which had been converted into a parking lot for the big day. And even before Virender Sehwag and Darren Sammy came out for the toss, virtually each of the 45,000 seats had been taken.
Most of those who queued up for more than six hours to get into the venue had expected a run feast as India took on the West Indies in the first of five ODIs. They would have wanted the Gambhirs, Sehwags, Bravos and Pollards to make a mockery of the bowlers by carting them out of the park through the day.
But, apart from the 33 fours and four sixes, what they got to witness was disciplined bowling all along, two sensible knocks, three useful partnerships, and most importantly, an India victory.Despite being 59 for five and, later, 159 for seven, India never looked to be out of the match because of one man's presence. Rohit Sharma, who walked in when India were 47 for three while chasing West Indies' moderate 211 for nine, was so relaxed at the crease and placed the ball with such ease that he looked set to carry India to a famous victory.
It wasn't surprising that during his 42-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Vinay Kumar, every single was cheered by the crowd like a towering six.
Tragedy struck when Sammy brought back leggie Anthony Martin in the 46th over with India needing 11 runs to win. The second ball of the over ricocheted off Rohit's pads on to the stumps to give West Indies the upper hand.
Five balls later, Vinay holed out to Kemar Roach at mid-off off Sammy to put the West Indies firmly in control of the match. With Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav, the No. 10 and 11, required to repeat their heroics with the ball with a willow in their hand, India were virtually down and out.
But a boundary each by both men off Sammy in the penultimate over sealed the deal for India.