My son’s debut at the international cricket arena. And it couldn’t have come on a better day than this. The KKR vs KXIP first qualifiers at the Eden Gardens for the IPL 7. Just a week ago, when I had booked the tickets, I was blind to the fact that I would end up seeing the home side playing one of the best cricket of the tournament by far (though closely beaten by how they played in the finals, 4 days later). I was more hoping to see the likes of Maxwell and Sehwag locking it’s horns against MSD’s men. But then after a power-packed super Pathan performance, it was the home side who not only booked its place at the Eden Gardens, but also became favorites after 7 wins on the trot. It was going to be a contest between our bowlers and their batsmen. And given the home ground and home support, it was anybody’s guess which team was feeling the pressure.
The divine intervention –
Since it was a night match (starting at 8 pm), my son was not the first choice to use one of the four tickets I had. And it would have required divine intervention for him to make his debut (as a spectator). And divine intervention it was. The Kolkata skies opened up and poured like never before. The outfield was as wet as the paddy fields of Bengal. And by 6 pm, the match was postponed to the reserve day (next day). With the rains threatening to continue over the next day, and a possibility of KXIP winning without playing a single ball made our heart sink. And all prayers were focused to get a clear weather the next day.
The lucky breakthrough –
The next day had a promising start. The sun shone in its full glory. There was no trace of overnight rain. And the weather continued to hold. And being a reserve day, the match was rescheduled to start at 4 pm (rather than the 8 pm as of the original day). That along with the fact that one among our original party had to drop off due to some work, gave my son his first opportunity to see a live match at the largest stadium in India. Recently turned 5 year old, yet he was excited from the moment he came to know about it. And soon started announcing it to his friends that he was going to watch a cricket match in the afternoon.
The shock and the surprise –
He was ready for the big occasion. With his face painted to show his support for the home side, he was ready for the big match. We walked from the parking to the stadium amid the thousands who too headed for the same cause. And he was surprised to see so many people, so much festivities, and such enthusiasm. People decked up in the colors of the home team, vendors selling flags and trumpets, and a wide cacophony of sounds. Five years old, yet he was taking everything in his stride and getting absolutely absorbed to the atmosphere. But the biggest shock was in store when the 80,000+ strong crowd erupted in unison. He had never seen or heard something like that. Hands covering his ears he first looked at me for reassurance, and then back at the crowd with eyes wide in surprise and shock. KKR started batting first.
The boring middle period –
The match was poised nicely during the innings break. Needing 164 to win, it was still anybody’s game. Thanks largely to some mindless batting and throwing of wickets away. If not for the cameo of Piyush Chawla, the end was pretty boring with all the excitement dying away. And by the time when Vohra and Saha took the attack to the KKR camps, the noises had fairly subsided. So around 24 overs, 3 glasses of cold drinks, and 4 slices of pizzas later, my son too got so bored that he wanted to see cartoon instead. It was after I explained to him the difference between watching a match on TV and watching it live, that he agreed to continue watching the Vohra-Saha onslaught.
The turning point and the eruption –
Thanks to a brilliant Umesh Yadav for stopping the onslaught before it went out of hands. First it was Morkel though, who got rid of Vohra. But the real party began when Yadav sent back the in-form Maxwell cheaply. By that time, KXIP had lost the wind from its sail and it was a cruise from there on for KKR. The home crowd reacted in an emphatic manner – erupting to its former noisiest glory. And each falling wickets were cheered by a noise stronger than the one before. And it was no longer deafening to my son as he too picked up the mood of the thousands around him. He no longer placed his hands on his ears, but threw them at the air and shouted along with the crowd trying to out-match the loudest of the cheers.
And by the time KKR won, and Shahrukh was having his victory lap, there was no stopping of him. He continued running up and down at the aisle in sheer joy. The infectious mood around, getting not only into him but in all of us. And finally after a long walk back to the car, and a chocolate ice-cream, he was safely tucked back at the front seat. Exhausted and sleeping soundly. Recollecting his memories from the day to share with his excited mom upon arrival at home. Such was the great day when my son visited the Eden Gardens for the first time. A story to tell forever and ever.