Cricket lovers have flown in from all corners of the world to soak in this extravaganza of cricket © Getty Images
The Indian fans would be present at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium, when their team takes on Sri Lanka for the ICC World T20 2014 final. Nishad Pai Vaidya reflects on the mood at the scene and speaks to people from different parts of the globe.
As the Indian team indulged in its game of football on the eve of the final, you could see a huge Indian flag waving in the background. The bearer was none other than their loyal fan Sudhir Kumar Gautam. We all know him as the one who paints his body in the tri-colour and etched the word “Tendulkar” on his chest. But, a day before the game, he was in a normal attire, only there to raise the spirits of the side. Sudhir had become a famous name due to his unparalleled passion and people in Bangladesh also know him.
“Woh Sudhir wahan par rahta hai,” (Hindi for: That Sudhir stays there) said a Bangladeshi fan, pointing towards a building close to the stadium, when I asked about his whereabouts. Sudhir is staying a stone’s throw away from the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium and most fans and volunteers know where to find him. As this writer collected his accreditation pass, a man approached me, “Sir, main Assam se aaya hoon. Badi shauk se match dekhna hai. Kya aapke paas ticket hai?” (Sir, I have come from Assam with great hope to watch the match. Do you have a ticket) With tickets hard to come by, the fans often approach their own journalists for help.
I was unable to help him, so the man said, “Koi baat nahi. Main Sudhir se poochta hoon. Suna hai who help karega.” (No problems. I will ask Sudhir I have heard he can help) Fans want to catch a glimpse of play here. On the eve of the final, dozens of fans gathered around the well-lit Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium. The most common word you could here there was “tickets.” And, in the age of camera phones, how can you forget the new Ellen de Generes created rage – the selfie. One can see many fans posing with the stadium in the backdrop. If they don’t find someone to take a picture, they help themselves.
And as the hours ticked and both India and Sri Lanka braced for the big game, there was a word that the two icons of Bollywood, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan would make their way to Dhaka. They are human after all, and the Indian fans won’t forget one thing: Shah Rukh was at Johannesburg in 2007 and Aamir was at the Wankhede in 2011. There will be some buzz if they come and appear on the giant screen. Expect a huge roar from the local crowds, who should come in numbers. As one fan told me, “In our country, you will find people coming for any game. We love our sport.” Doesn’t matter if the Bangladesh team isn’t here.
Chicago Hope in Dhaka
When there is a world event, people from all around the globe and all walks of life flock to follow their passion. When the Super 10s came to a close at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, this writer met two individuals who came all the way from Chicago for the love of cricket. And interestingly, they came in different capacities. It is quite fascinating to see the two men making the long journey, away from their families. And, this isn’t the first time they have done it.
Meet Dr Nilesh Mehta, an oncologist based in Chicago. He has come to Dhaka as a journalist, covering the World T20 for an Indian newspaper in Chicago. This is his fifth World Cup since starting off in St Lucia during the 2007 tournament in the West Indies. Yes, he has not missed some of the big moments in the recent times. “When MS Dhoni hit that six to win the World Cup, I was there in the press box,” he says. “This is my passion and I do take time out to come and cover the World events,” says Dr Mehta.
Hailing from Baroda, Dr Mehta knew a few cricketing figures in the city. After completing his education, he moved to the United States and has been based there. This may be his hobby, but he also loves his golf. Gaurav Joshi, my fellow writer at CricketCountry also likes to play golf and the two men were instantly making plans for a round. They then turned towards me, and he said, “That is one sport I don’t understand.” Then, Dr Mehta points towards the stands and says, “You see that man there. He is also from Chicago.” He was talking about a Cricket Chacha look-alike, who is rumoured to have been cooking biryani for the Pakistan team.
“I am a cricket fan and follow the Pakistan team. Now, that Pakistan has lost, will support my wife’s team. She is from Hyderabad in India. Can’t argue with my wife, plus I have no choice now,” said Mohammad Basheer Bozai. “Main Chicago mein Hyderabadi biryani bechta hoon, isiliye logon ne yahan mazaak me bola hai,” (Urdu for: I sell Hyderabadi biryani in Chicago, and hence people have cheekily spread that news). And, as his wife’s team fought it out in the semi-final against South Africa, Bozai was still here and will also be seen at the stadium for the final. Dr Mehta though, had to leave for Chicago to attend to his patients.
The buzz and all the drama reaches its crescendo on Sunday. On Monday, Dhaka will go back to its normal life and the banners depicting the festival of cricket would gradually come off.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)