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A love for cricket, nay, cricketers

In the wake of the Indian cricket team’s pied pipers, trilling a triumphant tune after Trent Bridge, came an assortment of followers driven by various whims, reports Rohit Mahajan.
By Rohit Mahajan | Hindustan Times, Leicester
UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2007 04:03 AM IST

In the wake of the Indian cricket team’s pied pipers, trilling a triumphant tune after Trent Bridge, came an assortment of followers driven by various whims.

There was the father, a former club cricketer himself, who presented his little son as the next Sourav Ganguly; there were the young girls in coloured garments who danced to Hindi film music; there were the fans who laid a siege under the dressing rooms and shrieked every time an Indian face appeared on the terrace above, even if it belonged to the masseur or the computer analyst. There were those who seemed to specialise in the consumption of beer, and those who could demolish biryani and chicken tikka like no other.

On Friday at the cricket ground here, there were lovers of cricket and lovers of cricketers, the latter clearly in a vast majority.

Happiest were those who derived the purest joy from the game, by playing in the lanes behind the stands or in the green when the players went off for their two breaks.

It was an overwhelmingly Asian heritage crowd, most of them at the ground for the first time --- drawn by the Indian cricketers.

“All the people in the crowd I interviewed today had never come here before,” said a BBC Radio presenter, going around the ground to record and relay the carnival-like atmosphere to her hearers.

When you cram in 6,500 people in this ground, no seats would be visible in the stands --- on Friday, a good many of the orange or red seats were visible, for the numbers were closer to 2,000, most of them in just to have a good time here. And bigger crowds are expected over the weekend.

The tickets were very affordable, £12 for the three days if you bought them in advance, £10 an adult at the gate.

The younger fans positioned them below the Indian dressing room and shouted out the names of the players they wanted to see --- Sachin and Sourav were in the greatest demand while Rahul Dravid was, of course, in the middle. They were not much, but they made clamour enough for a full house.

S Sreesanth, chastened after his Trent Bridge education, looked relaxed, made eye contact with fans and laughed around.

Just before play started in the morning, surprisingly, the familiar strains of Himesh Reshamiya's Jhalak Dikhlaja were heard. On a farther part of the ground appeared girls in colourful clothing, who began to dance even as the players warmed up elsewhere on the ground.

Wonder what the people in the houses close to the ground had to say.

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