THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fans painted the state capital in blue as international cricket returned to the city after a gap of three years. And the excitement at the Greenfield Stadium reached its zenith when India trounced South Africa by eight wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series. If the fans missed anything, it was local hero Sanju Samson, who had not made it to the squad.
All streets leading to the venue remained busy from the morning, with roadside vendors doing a good
business. Fans started reaching the city right from the morning. Spectators were allowed to enter the stadium only from 4.30pm, but many of them, clad in blue, were at the entrance before noon. They had Tricolour painted on their faces and kept chanting “India, India” and “Sanju Sanju”. ‘Samson’ jersey was the most preferred one, too.
Many of them did not hesitate to express their displeasure at Sanju’s exclusion from the Indian team for the upcoming T20 World Cup. “Sanju should be included. My cheers are for him,” said Althaf Ameen of Vizhinjam.
Huge cutouts of captain Rohit Sharma, his predecessor Virat Kohli and Sanju formed the perfect background for fans to take selfies. “We’re coming all the way from Kannur. We’re excited to see our stars and watch such a high-profile match,” said Renjith S, who came with six others from his native place. “Say Yes to Cricket, Say No to Drugs” said a banner raised by a group from Malappuram, expressing solidarity with the state government’s statewide anti-drug campaign.
“This is the best place to propagate our ideas and create an awareness as almost all the fans who reach the venue are youngsters,” he said. Cricket fans from south Tamil Nadu, too, did not want to miss the chance. Sundar Sankar from Tirunelveli was impressed with the overall atmosphere.
“The energy has been so high around the venue. I had gone to see cricket matches in metropolitan cities and I could feel the same level of vibrancy in Thiruvananthapuram. I’m a fan of Kohli and Aswin,” he said. The police had a tough job managing the crowd, which grew in number by around 3pm. There was a big cheer when the players hit the ground at 5.30pm.