Been there, done that - Yes, I can proudly say that when somebody asks me if I've watched a cricket match live from the stadium! =) *all smiles*
I'm an ardent fan of cricket - I don't know the rules of the game in & out, but I have enough understanding to enjoy the match, despite it being lengthy (considering the fact that I don't have a lot of patience).
I developed interest in the match when I used to watch cricket matches on TV with my uncles and whatever I know of the game is what has been passed on to me by them.
I've grown up rooting for the Indian Cricket Team & my all time favourite is Rahul Dravid. Now, I have a soft corner for Virat Kohli - he's the most good looking player in the team, for now.
I'm now in Sri Lanka, a country where the people are cricket fanatics!
Sri Lanka co-hosted the Cricket World Cup last year (2011) and I desperately wanted to go watch atleast one match where India was playing. But, I could never get tickets.
But this time, when I heard of India touring Sri Lanka for the ODIs, I did my share of planning in advance. Thanks to a very good friend of mine, I got tickets and so, yesterday, I headed out to watch my first live cricket match between India & Sri Lanka played at the R. Premadasa Grounds in Colombo.
I was so excited! I wasn't even one bit sad that I couldn't watch the Olympics on TV!
But I was in a dilemma on which team to support - I've loved the Indian Team since the day I understood cricket but I love Sri Lanka - it's my second home and there arises some feeling of patriotism.
When I got my seat and looked down to the ground, I actually pinched myself - it looked so surreal. I couldn't believe I was seeing cricketers whom I've watched on TV playing just few meters in front of me. I squinted my eyes, craned my necks - did almost everything possible to see each one of them!
Only when the second wicket was lost, did I actually realise that I was there, in real, in person watching it all happen.
Sri Lanka was batting first and 98% of the crowd (full stadium!) was rooting for Sri Lanka. Inevitably, I was in support of Sri Lanka too. Screaming, shouting, wildly waving the cards displaying 4s & 6s high in the air every time a boundary was crossed - I had the time of my life. Sri Lanka ended at 286 for 5 wickets at the end of 50 overs.
It was almost 7pm by the time the Indian opening batsmen came on to bat - Gambhir and Sehwag. Sehwag was caught off guard and was out for just 3 runs. Gambhir went on to score a century with 102 runs. Rohit Sharma had yet another duckie. Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan created magic.
India did not look like they were going to win. And with minimal support from the crowd, I was sure they'd lose. I was so bored in between, hoping the overs would move faster.
But in no time, things got very interesting! Malinga almost made a hatrick taking down 2 wickets consecutively. As he bowled to get his third wicket, we were all shouting "Malinga, Malinga, Malinga..."
But whenever the Indians made a 4, I clapped - garnering deadly stares from the die hard sri lankan fans seated around me! Haha!
The last five overs with the Indians batting was just magical.
I was so excited but nervous at the same time. I felt I was missing heart beats. I was telling my friend that had I been Dhoni, the Indian captain, I'd have gotten an anxiety attack by then.
But all of it paid - the Indians went on to win!!!
The funniest incident was a dog who came running onto the field twice, pooped and ran back to disappear in the crowd. A cleaner had to come and shovel away the poop. Haha!
The 9 hours that I spent there was totally worth it.
I'm definitely going to go watch more of such matches! :)
p.s: Trivia - No team has ever chased so much (287) to beat Sri Lanka at home!
Pictures are taken from my very primitive phone - I'll steal some pictures from my friends and put them up shortly!
Special note of thank you to all who made it possible for me!
Updated (30/07/2012) - as promised, better pictures.