As the World Test Championship final gets underway, the Oval replicates a slice of India

Wednesday began like any other typical early English summer morning. The clouds were low, there was some chill in the air and a hint of moisture without any rain and the wind...

Published: 07th June 2023 07:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2023 07:50 PM   |  A+A-

The Oval

A mini-India at The Oval. (Photo | Swaroop Swaminathan, EPS)

Express News Service

LONDON: The Oval metro station, a solid hit away from the ground, has been feeling like India for the last few days.

Two big Indian companies -- a bank and a media house -- have been dominating the ad space. When you are riding the elevator, it's hard to miss it. The A4- and A3-sized hoardings are everywhere.

On Wednesday, the station itself was taken over by Indian fans. They streamed out of the metro, entered Harleyford Street before they went to the different gates. Some of them -- admittedly half-heartedly -- tried to work up a Bharat Mata Ki Jai chant. Others stuck to a more generic 'India, India'.

Wednesday began like any other typical early English summer morning. The clouds were low, there was some chill in the air and a hint of moisture without any rain and the wind was gently biting into the skin. The scene outside the Alec Stewart Gate -- one of the main entrances to the Stadium -- was similar to whenever there's cricket involving India in this part of the world. Fans pouring in from all parts of the world. From San Francisco to Chennai, they were all here from 8.00 AM local time, waiting for the gate to open.

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This match -- the final of the World Test Championship -- is still trying to find its footing in the calendar but these fans have already embraced it. A few, like Sujoy, have travelled from as far out as America's west coast for one day's worth of cricket. Over the next month or so, London will play host to a number of events (Harry Styles, Arctic Monkeys, start of Wimbledon) but over the next five days, the one happening at The Oval is the hottest ticket in town.   

Suman, who travelled from New York city, holds tickets for the first three days. "It should be a fantastic game," he said. "Yeah, I do travel a lot for cricket. Last year, I was in Florida when India toured the West Indies," Suman, sporting a Bharat Army T-shirt, added.

Across the street, there was at least one vendor who was making brisk business selling flags and cheap jerseys. Next to the vendor, another fan had a poster that said: 'Ee sala WTC hamde (this year, WTC is ours)'. "Last time we couldn't win it. This year, I'm very much sure we will win. Players are very much in form coming out from the IPL. I think Virat Kohli will be the key batter from an Indian perspective," he said. Optimistic? You could say so considering Royal Challengers Bangalore fans adopted it over five years ago and are waiting for their moment in the sun...

ALSO READ | India's Test legacy on the line in WTC final against Australia

There was another aspect of Wednesday morning that reminded one of being back home. There were people looking for tickets just outside the Alec Stewart gate while at the metro, a man was screaming at the top of his voice: "Looking to buy or sell tickets?" 


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