MELBOURNE: If one has heard the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ at Johannesburg, Mirpur, Colombo, Kolkata, Birmingham, Adelaide, London and Manchester during an India-Pakistan game, he would vouch that Sunday was different at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Among the 90,293 people present at the ground, at least 60,000 were Indians and the ‘Jaya He’ chorus created an atmosphere like never before.
It was even humbling for Indian team skipper Rohit Sharma, who looked a touch emotional as he looked heavenwards, trying hard to keep his emotions under check.
“I am opening my first restaurant in Bangkok and there is a lot of pressure due to logistical issues. My visa got cancelled once and I had to reapply and get it on the second go.

(AFP Photo)
“I bought an air ticket worth Rs 1 lakh one way to reach on the day of the match,” Kolkata- based Samiran Chowdhury couldn’t stop grinning ear to ear as he proudly flaunted his match ticket.
There wasn’t any such tension for his friend Dipanjan Ghosh, a software professional, who has made Melbourne his home for the last 12 years.

“I have never missed any of India’s matches across formats at the MCG. I have watched Ashes, too, but nothing beats this atmosphere,” he said.
Two Pakistani supporters, Abbas and Azaan, had come from Sydney and are planning to follow the team to every city.

Pakistani fans

(AFP Photo)
From the morning itself, Melbourne’s bustling CBD (Central Business District) was literally under Indo-Pak siege.
At the famous Federation square, India and Pakistan fans danced together and yelled their guts out, easily crossing the permissible decibel limit. But who cares when emotions run high.
The most hilarious scene at the Federation Square was when Pakistani fans outnumbered the Indians at a certain time, and even as chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ made an impact, the pitch of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Jeeve Jeeve Pakistan’ was slightly higher.
One Sardarji took it upon himself and shouted ‘Ganpati Bappa Maurya’ and, in unison, the entire Indian lot joined. Parity was restored.

There was a group of people who had come from the UK and were dressed like saints. One enthusiastic Indian reporter (don’t know whether from a channel or a YouTuber) asked the elderly gentleman “Baba ji, kya aap Indian team ko Ashirwad denge”.
But the most remarkable aspect was the bonhomie. There was no malice, no aggression as they enjoyed each and every moment together.
A lot of them, in fact, know each other, having lived in the same localities or worked in the same organization in Australia, and this match was like one big party for them.
The MCG at night looked splendid and even more spectacular, when the floodlights were switched off for a couple minutes, and the entire crowd switched on their cell-phone lights.
An Indian intruder wanted to shake hands with Bhuvneshwar Kumar but was apprehended quickly. He will pay a fine of AUD 9313.20.
A few brought loudspeakers and 50-odd joined immediately to groove to “Amritsari Chudiyaa”. It was very difficult to control the urge of not grooving while forgetting professional duties.
The ICC must have realized that systematic cricket tourism in coming years could turn into a commercial behemoth. The economic potential is mind numbing.
Sport does indeed bring people together. The supporters from the two nations, who share a common border, also share their common love for the game.
On Sunday, they celebrated their love for the game and left everyone yearning for more.


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By Dipak

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