It started to pour since the noon and the drizzle did not look likely to stop even as the clock struck seven, the scheduled time for the start of the game. Though the action stayed away from the field, the fans were still upbeat
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The clouds had gathered at the Sports Hub, Trivandrum in Kariavattom since morning on Tuesday. But that did not prevent the hundreds of cricket fans and enthusiasts from gathering hours ahead at the venue on the outskirts of the city ahead of the India vs New Zealand T20 match.
It started to pour since the noon and the drizzle did not look likely to stop even as the clock struck seven, the scheduled time for the start of the much-awaited game. Though the action stayed away from the field, the fans were still upbeat as they performed one Mexican wave after the other on the terraces of the 55,000-seater sports arena.
“It is the first time for many of us at this stadium while many are attending their first international cricket match. So, even if the rain does not allow the game to happen, we are going to enjoy the moment,” said Arjun M Kumar, a cricket anorak, who came in for the first international match in the city after 29 years.
Fans could be seen coming in by the hundreds and had crowded in front of the road leading to the stadium hours before the match. Though a majority of those who flocked to the entrance were youngsters, one could see people belonging to different ages giving them a healthy competition in the level of enthusiasm.
While the players were rooted to the dressing rooms due to the rain, the fans in the stands chanted the names of India captain Virat Kohil and M S Dhoni. “This is the spirit of the game. We came here much ahead of the match time to get a feel of the excitement. One can see much enthusiasm in all the faces,” Neeraj, an ITI instructor from Malappuram said.
He said, “A large number of fans have come from Malappuram and Kozhikode. The whole of Kerala is now in the grip of cricket fever.” On the rain playing a spoilsport, he said, “It is a disappointment that the weather is not in our favour. After all, we have come from far off places for the big event.”
The whole city seemed to be in the grip of cricket fever with everyone talking about the match and also expressing anxiety whether the rain will spoil the whole show. In some of the offices in the city, even in Technopark, many had taken half day leave to be a part of the whole excitement.
R Narayan, an employee in the Secretariat, said he took half day leave since he wanted to accompany his son to the match. “My son is a cricket enthusiast. He wanted to watch his favourite players at a close range. I am also interested in the game and hence, decided to go for the game,” he said.
Praveen and Navya, a couple from Wayanad, came in much earlier to get into the stadium. They work at Infopark in Kochi. They said they reached the capital city in the morning. “We took a day’s leave to see the match. We are really thrilled to see the players at close quarters,” they said.
Besides the couple, a whole family from Venjaramood was spotted near the stadium. For ten-year-old Anaswar, it is a dream come true to be able to see his favourite Dhoni in action. His father Anailu, also a fan of Dhoni, said, “From the day the match was announced, Anaswar wanted to see the match live. My entire family has come. Even at home, we all get together to see the match.
Since the players are coming to our own home ground, we thought we should not miss the opportunity and booked the tickets well in advance,” he said. The same feeling was shared by Radhakrishnan and Ranjith Rajesh, both of them working at the Technopark.
“We all are excited. Many working at the Technopark have taken either a day’s or half day’s leave. Cricket has come to the city and we cannot miss it. We are getting to see our favourite players at a close range, so how can we miss the opportunity,” Radhakrishnan said.
The T20 match in the capital city also saw hundreds of street vendors, a majority of them from Kolkata, on the roads doing a brisk business of jerseys, caps and National flags. Sukanto, a street vendor who was seen near the stadium said, “As many as 150 from New Barrackpore have come here to sell these things. We travel to places wherever a match is held and sell the products. Before coming here, we have been to Delhi and Gujarat.” Stating train tickets are booked in advance to all places where the matches are held, he said people from his town visited the city when the South Asian Football Federation match was held here last year. Similarly, another vendor Shantanu from Habra, said as many as 200 from his town have reached the city for the match.