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Memories From My First Visit To The Eden Gardens

December 4, 2012

Eden Gardens cricket ground

Right from the early days of my childhood as I started understanding the game cricket a little bit, my dream was to meet the people representing our country. It could not be fulfilled anyhow as I then lived in a place far away from the city of joy and even farther from the rest of the international cricket venues in India. But when I stepped in to Kolkata it was always somewhere back in my mind that now I am in with a chance for this. And finally the opportunity knocked the door. It was back in February,2010. South Africa, the number two team by that time in the ICC test ranking were visiting the number one side India. The champions were thrashed in the first test of the two match series by the solo attack of Dale Steyn. The visitors were threatening team India to claim the top place. India had to win at the Eden Gardens to pull the things back and save their top position. One could not expect any bigger and any better of a context in his first ever visit to a test match.
I still remember the previous night to the opening day of that test. I was so excited thinking that I am going to see Sachin Tendulkar live that I could not sleep the whole night. I was thinking that if I ever get a chance of saying something to him how could I be able to make him understand that how big a fan of him I am. I was wondering about what to say to the great man! I used to stay in my college hostel then. Two of my juniors finally agreed to go with me having earlier talked like as if they were vastly experienced in watching matches sitting in the ground,although they were not. We did not have tickets either. And no idea whatsoever regarding how to book the tickets and from where. We set out at 4am without having thought about what should we eat, and what about taking bath and etc. I took a fresh new diary with me,so that if I get the chance of taking autographs I don’t have to miss out, and that was the only thing struck in my mind.
We reached Eden Gardens by 4:45,and asked the policemen standing over there about where can we get the ticket from. We were directed to go to the Mohamedan Sporting Club Tent. We went and discovered a couple of queues. One of Rs. 300/- and the other of Rs. 150/-. We decided to go big. Almost without hesitating we stood at the 300 rupees ticket queue. We had to wait long as the counter won’t have opened before 7am. And the time finally came, so as the tickets in hand. It was really an exciting feeling that now I’m going to watch the things live! From this to the very moment of entering the gardens for the first time there were quite a few incidents in between, some of them were enjoyable, some of them not. For example, when I asked a policeman about when the team bus will arrive, he replied,”That I don’t know,but the gate of the stadium will open at 11am”, although slip of tongue, but very funny nevertheless, as by that time players would be about to leave the field for having there lunch. At the same time I did not like the way an other policeman broke our flag-stick with his foot as the sticks are not allowed inside the stadium.
Finally it was the for us to get inside the stadium. “WOW” was my first reaction having seen the ground for the first time that had itself witnessed probably the most of the glorious and emotional moments associated with the Indian team over the decades. And immediately my sight went to the giant screen, where I could see two of the little masters of the Indian cricket having a chat between them. And I soon spotted the actual place of the ground where they were shot was taken from. And yes, that’s the moment I would remember till death…. the man of whom I dreamt about seeing live was standing in front of my eyes. It took a little time for me to believe what was happening out there, and even what was happening inside me. And when I got my senses back, I shouted,”It’s Sachin!! I have seen him… I have seen him!!!”..
I remember those days Mahendra Singh Dhoni was having a streak of back to back toss defeats in tests. Probably some months after he went on to convert that as an all time record. Yes, India lost the toss again. Under the circumstances Smith did not think twice before he elected to bat first. Our fate was sealed for the rest of the day, my companions immediately started to show their anger on the Indian captain. I calmed them down.
After a while players were in the field. Once again I kept looking at the same place, as if there was only a single person in the field. I said,”Hey,why don’t we cheer? Lets shout India .. India…! “, they were hesitating a bit. I said,”Okay then..lets shout Sachin.. Sachin…”, This time they started with me. So as our gallery with us, and at that cheer for the man whom it was intended, looked at me, and acknowledged the cheer! And if one would tell me to choose the very best moment of the day for me, I don’t have to think again before declaring the last one.
And the match got underway. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma started the proceedings from the club house end and the high court end respectively. We were sitting at the long on boundary, opposite to the club house gallery. India struck early, Zaheer had two of the deliveries of the same over to Smith as the out-swingers, and the third one came the other way. Middle stump went for a walk and we got the chance to cheer the first wicket for the very first time in our life! 11-1 it was.
In came Hashim Amla, and he just went on and on along with the debutant Alviro Petersen. We were unmoved from our seats for the next couple of hours and discovered that at lunch it’s still one down only for the visitors. The play resumed, but the two batsmen just carried the things on from where they had left. Things started to go wrong for India. Probably one or two leg before decisions went against them. Laxman dropped a dolly of Amla in the first slip and of course taking nothing away from the batting team one had to say that it was a great display of test match batting. The eyes were getting tired. And then again I was looking at short mid on or mid off, where Tendulkar was fielding. I did not ever bother to watch the balls at times, i just stared at Sachin thinking that this the first time that I’m seeing him, and may well be the last time.. so I should make every bit of use of this golden opportunity, after all he is the man whom I paid to watch for! And then I could see a diving effort to deny Amla a boundary, getting up, and hitting the stumps from the angle having only one stump to aim at. And that’s what I call commitment. When the rest of the 10 players are seeking a break, and looking to do the things after coming back, there this man stands out as an example. We all clapped again for the great man’s great commitment. So did we clap as both of Amla and Petersen went on to make three figures. And finally just at the stroke of tea, Zaheer came in and provided a breakthrough. Peterson departed.
At tea SA were still placed in a very good position as they were 226-2. Some people started leaving the field. My friends even wanted to leave the field, but I did not. I said that if they want to go thay can, but I’ll be there till stumps. We hardly had something to cheer for till then, but probably the stroke of luck was supposed to arrive at the time which could made up the day for us. Play resumed. Ishant bowled a furious over with a couple bouncers and showing some serious pace for the first time in the day. Zaheer followed him up, and got the outside edge of Hashim Amla’s bat. Dhoni made no mistake. And that’s the wicket what the doctor had ordered for the Indians to open the flood gates. Harbhajan came in from the other end, Kallis swept and got a top edge. Laxman ran back from the leg slip and caught it and made up a little bit for his previous mistake earlier in the day. Momentum started to shift towards India. At a time it seemed like every LBW is going against the bowlers, but this time Harbhajan sends Prince and Duminy both catching plumb in front of the stumps.
The rest of the day belonged to team India. Sachin used to say one thing,”Eden is the only ground where if you take one wicket, crowd will help you to take the remaining nine”, and that’s exactly what we witnessed. Those days the repairing works were being done at the Eden Gardens, and for that the crowd capacity was reduced to less than a half. But still whatever people came were jumping around, cheering at every dive, even at times for dot balls. Mexican waves started to flow in our gallery. Sehwag fielding at long on, just in a handshaking distance from us, was making the crowd go. And these are the feelings that one can’t ever imagine to have when you are watching the same thing on screen.Suddenly all the Indian fielders were pumped up, the body language seemed like ultra-positive and one could get the feeling the bowlers were looking like taking wickets every time they went to deliver a ball. And when this happens no wonder that even the fielder like Zaheer Khan sees off A.B.De Villiars with a direct hit and that too in a test match. And in the process, at last session SA lost 7 wickets for 26 runs.
Now as I am looking forward to watch a game live tomorrow, when I am thinking over it, it reminds me every bit of a moment of the glorious things that I had the chance to witness in my very first visit. We witnessed two classy centuries, yet we were so happy with the end result of the day what we saw, and even more with the things what we saw over the next 4 days of the test, as India went on to register an innings victory, with just 7 balls remaining to the end of the match. We were so very lucky to witness all such things and really that was one of the rare days of my life that I can’t ever dare to forget.

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2 Comments
  1. Prasenjit permalink

    victorious…
    i hv a question,how could u do every thing so perfectly??

    • Hahaha…. Well it was just luck! Not only with me,but with all those spectators who were there till the end.

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