The anticipation and anxiety had taken over my body as I clutched Aishu's hand tightly while the auto-rickshaw jolted all the way from my house to the Chidambaram cricket stadium. On reaching there both of us paid the rickshaw driver and ran towards Gate 5 and 7, from where we were to collect our free tickets and meet with our friends Deeptha, Keerthana and Subashini. The atmosphere outside the stadium was really upbeat. Vendors came upto us and quickly started painting the national flag on our faces. I even bought an Indian flag and waved it around proudly as I walked.
A reporter from NTV walked to us and took our interviews. She asked me who my favourite player was and without a moment's hesitation I said 'Virat Kohli' and Aishu said 'Sachin Tendulkar'. On being asked what we wanted Yuvi to score today, both of us said 'a century, we want him to score a century'. Then Aishu's friend Adithya gave us the tickets and we stood outside gate 5, waiting for our other friends. I was getting all panicky and frantic as the three of them hadn't come yet, but when they did, I screamed out in delight. It was finally happening. I was finally going to see my Team India play live.
We were the only girls in a stadium filled with men, and as worried we were about the fact, we didn't think of it much. We were slightly disappointed to learn that the New Zealand players were practicing near our stands and not our Indian ones. But the minute the first Indian player, Irfan Pathan walked into the grounds all of us in our Nike blue jersey screamed out loud for him. The real screams and cheers were heard when our Punjabi prince, my Muthan incarnate, Yuvraj Singh walked out into the field, taking the blessings of mother Earth.
All of us were chanting ecstatically 'YUVI! YUVI! YUVI! YUVI!'. They wouldn't stop. We could see his face on the screen, grinning happily. Standing next to me, Aishu muttered 'oh God he is smiling, he looks so happy!' I looked at her and smiled broadly. I was so happy to see him. The wound of Muthan's loss was still so fresh in my mind that seeing Yuvi there, fine and healthy after beating the nasty cancer made me very, very happy. I had tears of happiness in my eyes. When Virat entered the field everybody screamed, but I just kind of went silent, I have no idea. I was trying to get a better look, but I didn't scream that much, not then.
Long before the match the five of us had exhausted ourselves. We had already screamed so much. We decided to pause and get some snacks and drinks and take a few photographs. Then it was time for the toss. Dhoni and Ross Taylor walked onto the pitch and within moments we learnt that India had won the toss and had selected to field. All of us cheered loudly once again. Then, before we knew it, it was happening- the match was starting.
For the first over of New Zealand's batting innings, Pathan took a wicket. I jumped up and down, roaring like the wild, untamed lioness I am. I turned to Aishu, who looked puzzled. 'WICKET WICKET WICKET' I screamed, before she burst into a happy dance. During the next over Yuvi was standing in front of our stand - not next to the boundary line, much further, but close enough. All of us began chanting 'Yuvi Yuvi Yuvi' again. He turned around and waved amiably. The crowd grew louder. What an amazing sight it was.
For the next over Virat stood where Yuvi was. The crowd started screaming 'KOHLI KOHLI KOHLI' while I screamed 'VIRAT VIRAT VIRAT'. He turned around and waved at the crowd vaguely. A few minutes later Aishu, Keerthana and I began screaming for him again. While they chanted 'Kohli', I screamed 'Virat'. We screamed so much that he turned around properly, looked at us and waved, grinning that trademark sheepish grin of his. We kept screaming for him that he once again turned around, looked at us and signalled us to increase our cheers. We laughed and did so.
I don't know whether it was my overimaginative brain or something, but I think he did turn around quite a few times, looking at us. Twice during a particular over he came towards the boundary line, and both the times I jumped onto my chair like Damon 'Awesome' Salvatore and called out to him, jumping up and down excitedly. He looked back, waved and laughed. I think all these little moments will remain etched in my memory forever.
When Ravichandran Ashwin came to our boundary line Deeptha went insane. She started screaming for him so loudly that he turned back and waved to her atleast a hundered times (the poor girl almost lost her voice). The bunch of men sitting next to us were very nice. They weren't the typical lechers, they actually cracked good jokes and even helped Deeptha catch Ashwin's attention. I was glad. Maybe not all men here were creeps.
Then it was India's turn to bat, and my favourite Delhi duo of Virat and Gauti opened the innings. I cheered loudly. Each time Virat was at crease I kept screaming out his name and each time Gauti was at crease I kept screaming out his. Whenever it was Virat's turn to bat I became super anxious. I didn't want him to get out. I kept clutching my copy of Muthan &Ammamma's photo, begging for them to make sure he hits his first T20 century and also that India wins the match.
When he got out I just slumped down on the seat, disheartened. He had hit 70 from 41. I then remembered Muthan's text to me after the RCB vs DC IPL11 match 'Virat Kohli played and fell like a hero'. Truer words haven't been spoken. We were 45 from 42 balls. I believed we would have an easy win, but I had wanted Yuvi and Virat to be there till the end. I hated how the crowd cheered when he got out. I get the fact that they love Dhoni way too much, how would the batsman who just got out feel?
After that the match lost it's previous feel. Dhoni kept hitting singles and dot balls. Yuvraj's midwicket sixes were like the sky opening up after a period of drought, but all that went down in vain. Virat's brilliant knock went down in vain. Yuvi's comeback went down in vain. Despite all of that, he made the best comeback ever and I was SO SO SO SO proud. It was amazing to watch his mother's face light up on seeing his first six. :') Aishu's face too bore a similar expression.
Sometime in between the match Harsha Bhogle passed our stands and Aishu was left speechless. She kept looking at him, her eyes following her idol as he made way to the dug out. I have never seen this noisy little thing so speechless before and I was so happy for her. I knew exactly how she felt, because I would have been the same if it had been my Queen Jo Rowling in Harsha's place.
I was so hot headed because we had lost the match by one freaking run. We threw away what truly belonged to us. But we did gain a lot too. We saw Yuvi's much coveted comeback. Virat waved at US and turned back and looked at us randomly. Yuvi did a little bhangra for us. Virat played a brilliant knock. Ashwin turned around and waved at Deeptha. Aishu saw Harsha. Aishu and Keerthana cheered on for Sachin despite him not playing. We lost, but we gained a lot too. The five us also made a bond of friendship unique, since none of the others were there to share this special moment with us. No one else knew what it was like to be there, to experience every moment like we did, to feel what we felt when someone special and close to our hearts waved and grinned at us, to feel the ardenaline rush inside us as a ball went for a sixer. It was truly a one of a kind experience, unparallel, unbeatable, and nothing shall ever come close. After all, it's the little things that make all the difference in the world.
I dedicate this post to Virat- a person who means more to me than I care to admit, Yuvi- who made me feel like my Muthan was still beside me, Aishu- my best friend and partner in crime, Deeptha- who almost lost her voice screaming for Ashwin, Keerthana- who continued cheering for Rohit Sharma even though we taunted her about it and Subashini- who is totally insane and fun to be around. Thank you for the memories.
And with this post I'd also like to take the opportunity to congratulate Virat on winning the 'ICC ODI CRICKETER OF THE YEAR' for his extraordinary performance. No one deserves it more, and I'm very proud. :)