Cricket India's Tour of Australia ODIs World Cup 2015

World Cup Travel Diaries – Umang

You might have been wondering why we’ve been so silent these past few weeks. After all, it’s the marquee event in the cricket calendar.

Well one of us has been off following the Indian cricket team in Oz. The other one has been…well…drowning at work (sad, I know).

Anyway, the group stage is out of the way.

6 out of 6.

Not a bad gig for a team that was struggling to put bat on ball (and was putting way too much ball on bat) not so long ago.

Tomorrow is the first of the knockouts for us – India v Bangladesh – so we thought it would be a good time to take a look back.

Therefore, with a lot of help from Umang (a senior and friend of ours from school) see below the first instalment of the WORLD CUP TRAVEL DIARIES!

Umang’s World Cup travel diary 

In 2011 I bought tickets to the WC in India about a year in advance. Plane tickets 8 months in advance. Train tickets 2 months in advance. Then planned a trip to India (full on Bharast Darshan) and travelled the length and breadth of the country with Basu, one of my oldest friends.

So obviously with the WC coming ‘home’ to Australia, I was hoping for an encore. Planning started a year in advance again, many things fell apart along the way. But all was well in the end.

India v Pakistan

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THE GAME of the WC for about 2 billion people! Tickets sold out a year in advance, scalped tickets going for more than 20 times the price, obviously this game was going to be a cracker. Despite my planning, I couldn’t get a ticket the day before the flight. I settled for flying a day in advance, for return flight of 3 hours coming in at $800!!!! Hotel prices were even more of a shock. But all for good reason. The moment I landed at Adelaide airport, it was like I was back in India. There were desis coming of every flight. I had spotted about 20 on my flight itself. 

There were plenty more at my hotel. Conversation flowed easily and friends were made instantly based on the answer to that most important question – India or Pakistan? Last Valentine’s Day I inadvertently went to watch a lovey dovey movie (Hasee Toh Phasee) with my cousin after getting him to bunk school. This year I went to a masked freak show at the Adelaide Fringe Festival with an engineer from Vancouver. We even discovered that we’d both just quit our jobs at the same company (Hatch Inc.) to go travel the world. If only he had been an attractive she, haha!

The most interesting fan I met was an older man from Chicago – Pakistani himself but with an Indian wife. He always wore a robe that was half Indian flag and half Pakistani flag. He was here to watch every Indian and Pakistan match (his impressive stack of tickets proved he wasn’t fibbing). He said he was neutral but his heart clearly beat for Pakistan as he fell sick the very night after the game and had to be taken to hospital.

The game has been watched and dissected many times over already. But what the world doesn’t know is the party Adelaide put on. When people think Australia, it’s always Sydney & Melbourne. But man! Adelaide, what a place! The morning of the match, I put on my blue Indian shirt, walked out of the hotel, walked 10 steps to the traffic light and there were already 50 blue shirts around me. By the time I was nearing the ground, there were blue shirts and tirangas streaming from every direction. If an enterprising photographer had taken an aerial photo, the blue shirts converging on Adelaide Oval would’ve resembled the Indo-Gangetic delta. With a 80-20 fan split, the result almost felt like a foregone conclusion. 

Ind v Pak

The little strip of green shirts had nothing on us and started leaving about 20 overs into the 2nd innings. Check this out for atmosphere!

Some figures heard on the street were 30,000 Indians from around Australia and about 7,000 from India had flown in from the game. I spoke with the owner of the cafe where I had my breakfast. He had never opened on a Sunday before and e had never sold out before either. Another number heard on the street was that businesses in Adelaide’s CBD had made an extra $4 million that weekend.
Ind v Pak 2

The impromptu street party afterwards made it clear to see why. There were happy Indians in the ubiquitous blue shirts every bloody where!! Kilometre long lines, I kid you not, poured out of every kebab shop, every McDonalds and every Indian takeaway. At every corner, iPhones and bluetooth JBLs doubled for DJs, people dancing everywhere. Police on horses stood by, but the crowd was too happy to do anything silly. A few brave Pakistani fans stuck around, looking sad, congregating at the Lebanese shisha bars. In the midst of all this, I somehow bumped into my maths teacher from back in India. The whole experience was just too surreal. Years of watching reruns of the game might make it a bit more real!

Here’s a taste of what the street party was like! Chak de India!

 

India v UAE

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The game sucked. I always was going to. So I went dressed as Kejriwal.

Ind v UAE2

Made it very interesting. Apparently there’s an election taking place in Punjab and AAP is looking like a forerunner. A few drunk peeps made an evening out of shouting AAP naaras and carrying me on their shoulders. One of them was so drunk, I think he thought I actually was Kejriwal and asked me to do something about his electricity and water supply. I promised him I’d look into it. India won.

 

India v West Indies

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In 2011, I missed the whole first innings and about half the second innings of the Australia v New Zealand match after Indian Railways delivered us to Nagpur about 24 hours late. Note from the wise – trains from Calcutta don’t start between 11pm and 4am thanks to too many Maoists blowing up train tracks.

This year I almost missed another game, but for entirely different reasons. I was working on the day of the India-Windies game and having just started a new job wasn’t gonna bunk a day.

So I patiently followed the game on Cricinfo. And as every wicket fell, I could feel my 20 bucks slipping away! Fortunately, Holder played a captain’s knock and I made it back just in time to watch the last wicket fall.

The Indian innings wasn’t much to write home about. They seemed intent of making a game of it. Dhoni took us home. Anyway, thanks to that we finally escaped the terrible Perth sun as the lights came on over a game that seemed destined to finish before the dinner break.

Ind v WI 2 Ind v WI

 

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