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How many times have you heard a 4,000-strong crowd gathering for a practice session of Team India? It could only have happened in Indore! © IANS

‘Hi Bhaiya, Aap Indore Test cover kar rahe ho? Please mujhe Virat Kohli se milva do! Please.. (Hello big brother, are you covering the India vs New Zealand third Test in Indore? Please make me meet Virat Kohli), my younger sister’s friend asked me. She perhaps mistook me for Team India’s media manager in saying so. But that statement somewhat summed up the frenzy for India versus New Zealand Test in Indore, city’s maiden. Ever since it was announced that Indore would get to host a Test match, the purists started planning on how to catch the historic Test at the Holkar Cricket Stadium at any cost. On the other hand, a new generation of fans (created possibly by the advent of T20 cricket) that loves cricketers more than cricket  wanted just a glimpse of their favourite stars and perhaps also a selfie with them. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs New Zealand, 3rd Test.

It is not for nothing, that Sunil Gavaskar calls Indore the ‘selfie capital’ of India. And once the Test went underway, it was visible as you took a good view of the audience at the Holkar Stadium. The crowd there could easily be bifurcated into two — one section which came to watch Test cricket and the other which came only to get a feel of the atmosphere and click a few selfies to flaunt on their social media pages.

That, and a few more up-close nuggets right from the heart of India, Indore’s Holkar Stadium, in this segment.

Fans frenzy: Both the Indian and New Zealand teams have been put up at the Radisson Hotel in Indore. The teams usually stay in the same hotel every time there is an international match in the city of late. So when the dates for Indore Test were announced, some of city’s cricket-mad people booked not just the date in their calendars, but also a room in Radisson. Some others, who have an annual membership at the Hotel, where they can enjoy a couple of days’ stay at the Hotel anytime in the year, chose this period as the most opportune time. The reason was obvious.

They hoped to come across their favourite cricket stars at the Hotel during this period so that they could get a selfie clicked with them. Niloy Meher, who teaches Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning at the TIME Institute in Indore, was one of them. A cricket buff, Niloy decided to redeem his annual membership during this period and earned rich dividends, when he got clicked with Gautam Gambhir and Amit Mishra in the lobby of the hotel.

 

Niloy (extreme right) got clicked with Gambhir and Mishra at the Radisson Indore lobby.
Niloy (extreme right) got clicked with Gambhir and Mishra at the Radisson Indore lobby.

Divyansh Mulchandani, a 10-year-old kid from the city, celebrated his 10th birthday on October 6. He got a selfie with Ravichandran Ashwin and Kohli as the gift from parents Manish and Yoshita, who had booked a room at the hotel for a day. Ashwin, who was working out in the gym, was sent a letter and asked to come out, so that he could cut the cake with Divyansh.

There were many others, who booked rooms at the hotel during the Test just to get a glimpse of or a selfie with the cricketers. Some got their wish fulfilled when they met the stars at the Hotel restaurant, gym or lobby. A few others stay put at the hotel lobby all day for the same. Some of them had finished their engineering paper early; some others had given up lunch for the day so that they could catch a glimpse of the stars.

How many times have you heard a 4,000-strong crowd gathering for a practice session of Team India? It could only have happened in Indore!

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When Jumbo met Jumbo-in-the-making: How many players have taken all 10 wickets in an innings? The immediate names that come to mind are two — Jim Laker and Anil Kumble. But if you are in Indore, the count goes to three. Add Palash Kochar to the list, a budding Madhya Pradesh cricketer who hails from Ujjain, barely 60 kms away from here, but plays his cricket in the city. In April this year, he did a Kumble in division cricket, picking up all 10 wickets in an innings. He was playing for the Ujjain division side in the Maharaja Yeshwantrao Memorial Senior Division Cricket Tournament against the Naramdapuram division side and ended the innings with figures of 10 for 53 in 28.1 overs.

Kochar was not not the first one to achieve that, and will certainly not be the last — but there is a twist in the tale. When Jumbo was in the town with his panthers for the maiden Test in Indore, Kochar was called upon to bowl his leg-breaks to the Indian batsmen at the nets. The moment Kumble came to know about young Kochar’s achievement, he went up to meet him specially. The head coach of the Indian team also wished this budding cricketer all the best for a glorious future. “It was a great moment, one that I will cherish forever. It’s a huge motivation to meet such legends and bowl to Indian batsmen at nets,” an elated Kochar, currently on standby with the MP Ranji team, told us.

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The best Test crowd ever: Meet Paul Reid. In his other life, he is a government employee in the healthcare sector in Christchurch. But here, he has come as a cricket enthusiast, who has travelled every Test-playing nation but Zimbabwe and Pakistan. Reid has been travelling around the world and following New Zealand cricket team for a decade now. Ask him about his experience of watching Indore’s maiden Test and he calls it ‘incredible’.

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An avid traveller and one of the most passionate fans of the sport, Reid called Indore crowd the ‘most energetic Test crowd anywhere in the world’.

He reserves a special comment for the Indore crowd though, which, according to him is the ‘most energetic Test crowd he has ever seen anywhere in the world’: “I’ve been to Mirpur, where the crowd is loud for a Test. I have been to majority of Test venues across the cricket playing nations except for Zimbabwe and Pakistan. But this has to be the most energetic Test crowd I’ve seen anywhere in the world,” he said. He found the atmosphere inside the Stadium akin to T20 crowd elsewhere. An avid traveller and one of the most passionate fans of the sport, Reid had many other interesting stories to share. But let’s keep them for some other day.

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Maharaj: India does not have kings anymore, as the titles of the rulers were stripped after the country gained independence. But their families still enjoy the royal status. Congress MP and Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) Chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia enjoys a similar status, not only in his city Gwalior or his constituency Guna, but also in the cricket circles of MP. Grandson of Jivajirao Scindia, the last Maharaja of the Princely state of Gwalior, Scindia has done a terrific job as the MPCA chief for past few years and quite naturally, it was a proud feeling for him when Indore got its first Test.

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Scindia obliging a young fan by getting clicked with him.

On the first day’s play, Scindia personally went to meet every person sitting in the Captain Mushtaq Ali Pavilion. Those close to him, say it is a norm whenever there is an important match. But this was special, and ‘Maharaj’, as the MPCA members fondly call him, made sure this was special for everyone. He obliged every single person who asked for a selfie while meeting the fans.

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The rich legacy: As I said before, Indore has a rich cricketing legacy. The Holkar side, which represented the city in Ranji Trophy between 1941 and 1955 and included class players like India’s first Test captain Col. CK Nayudu and India’s first away centurion in Tests Captain Syed Mushtaq Ali, won the title four times and finished second on six other occasions. Even Gavaskar mentioned while commentating during the Test that how other teams those days aimed to finish as the runners up, as Holkars winning the title was an obvious thing. The MPCA has ensured that the legacy finds a befitting mention at the Holkar Stadium, being constructed at the land donated by the Holkars who ruled this area.

All the important parts of the ground are being named after Indore / MP and India legends. If the stands in the West gallery are named after India legends Sachin Tendulkar, Kumble, Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Vijay Hazare and Ajit Wadekar, those of the East gallery pay a tribute to the legends from the region, being named after JN Bhaya, MM Jagdale (father of current MPCA President Sanjay Jagdale), Khandu Rangnekar, Hiralal Gaekwad, Chandu Sarwate and CS Nayudu.

 

The pavilions are named after Col CK Nayudu and Capt. Syed Mushtaq Ali, while the box above the pressbox is named after Madhav Rao Scindia, former patron of MPCA and current Chairman’s father.

The dressing rooms are named after two legends born in MP, MAK Pataudi (Bhopal) and Rahul Dravid (Indore). The Stadium gates are named after iconic MP cricketers Narendra Hirwani, Rajesh Chauhan and Amay Khurasiya; the commentary box is named after renowned Hindi commentator Sushil Doshi; and the umpire’s room after Narendra Menon.

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The ICC mace: Finally, it was only apt that at the home of India’s first Test captain, Team India’s current captain Kohli scored a double hundred and his team won the match and the series. The ICC mace for the No. 1 Test team was a cherry on the top.

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Kohli got the ICC Test mace for No. 1 Test team in the world at the hands of Sunil Gavaskar in Indore.

Col. CK Nayudu must be a happy man, wherever he is, for there could not have been a better homage to him. As far as Indore is concerned, the city shall remain grateful for being able to host a Test in the first place, and for all the happy memories.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)