Why Indian spectators cheered for Sri Lanka at Wankhede

Only the last over finish allowed the crowd to get into the act.

 |  2-minute read |   25-12-2017
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It was the quietest I have seen a packed Wankhede stadium at the fall of an opposing wicket. Large parts of the famed Mumbai stadium were egging the Sri Lankans on to post a sizable total so that they could see Rohit Sharma bat longer.

It was a sad reflection of what Indian cricket fans made of the Sri Lankan effort on this Indian tour. Not too many who were still in the queue to get in while India had dismissed four of Sri Lanka's batting unit had any doubt that they would be robbed of their money in this game.

I was the last man in the queue en route to my stand and I must admit most of my entertainment came from the colourful commentary in the stands that is a feature of cricket viewing at Wankhede.


Very few in the crowd had any doubts after seeing India play Sri Lanka 19 times this year across formats, (Sri Lanka won only twice) that India had to bat first if they were to get their "paisa vasool".

As the Sri Lankan innings was meandering towards an inadequate target, there were chants of "We want six" as well from the Mumbai crowd.

I spotted a shirtless Hardik Pandya painted fan as well in the crowd, only the third of a kind I have seen after Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. He tried his best to catch his idol's attention showing him his streak of coloured hair. Hardik is an exciting all-rounder in the making and tattoos and blonde hair do help the fan following.

With nothing else to do, chants of "Dhoni-Dhoni" would go around as he fine-tuned field placements aiding captain Rohit just the way he has been helping captain Virat. "Captain Kaun hai, Rohit ya Dhoni," one of my fellow spectators asked aloud.

Having seen a fair share of international matches from the stands, I thought it was one of those where the crowd found no momentum in their cheering, nor did the Mexican wave ever get going in the first half.

Fortunately for the crowd, Sri Lankan seamers decided to stand up making use of some lateral movement in the wicket and yet again, the Indian middle-order wobbled.

It was for the calm of MS Dhoni and experience of Dinesh Karthik to see the team through at the end. The last over finish allowed the crowd to get into the act, the Mexican wave was up and about and so were the cheers and jeers.

Mumbaikars, having stomached a few losses of late from the 438 ODI against South Africa of 2015, the World T20 2016 semi-final defeat and the last one day defeat against Kiwis this year, they were happy to take a smiling face back home.

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Rasesh Mandani Rasesh Mandani @rkmrasesh

Broadcast journalist. A sports buff. Honest human being.

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