This post is about my experience of watching Test cricket at Wankhede, Mumbai’s cricket stadium.
Test Cricket At Wankhede – India Vs England – December 2016
Anyone who knows me even just a little bit will know how much I enjoy watching sport – but above all, I absolutely love watching cricket, which is why I’ve merged my passion for cricket and Tarot by predicting cricket games with my cricket analyst friend, Suneer Chowdhary on World Cricket Chat.
I have seen live cricket from the stadium a few times:
England Vs India – The Oval – 4th Test – Day 4 – September 2002
England Vs Australia – Lords – ODI – July 2005
India Vs England – Chinnaswamy – World Cup – February 2011
Mumbai Indians Vs Kings XI Punjab – Wankhede – IPL T20 – April 2014
So what’s new then?
In the last five years, my interest in the game has just increased manifold. There’s a stronger desire to understand the game more and be more involved with what’s happening. I hadn’t experienced a Test match in India and when Test cricket came to Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium, it would have been criminal to have missed it, and so I didn’t..
India Vs England – 4th Test – 8th-12th December, 2016 – Wankhede, Mumbai
Day 1: O’ before I start, here’s a video of the preview and prediction we had done a few days before the Test began (yes I know I sound super passionate – but it just shows, how much I enjoy this sport)
Now Day 1: Garware Pavilion Stand
You don’t usually expect a large crowd of people on Day 1 of a Test match, especially when the opposition is batting, but what you would expect at the Wankhede is a very loud crowd. A stadium with the capacity of over 30,000 was filled upto 50% – but when you’re in that stadium, the sound just echoes around, you begin to feel you’re amongst a lot more people. It’s a really special feeling. It’s an even better feeling when you get to watch a game with a very knowledgable cricket journalist and friend, Nishad Pai Vaidya. His cricket stories, and how he manages to link what’s happening on-field with historical cricket facts and lots of other interesting insights which you wouldn’t usually get to know is quite a pleasure – I was lucky to have that company.
Now, every cricket experience reminds me of how small the ground is, but you also learn to appreciate how much effort these players put into the sport. You understand the nuances from a different perspective – you’re not confined to what the cameraman shows you on tv (although that too is a lot of fun).
Another thing that I have admired over the years is the traveling English fan base – they really do their best to make their presence felt and get behind their team. As the Indian crowd got louder, the English spectators made their efforts too – it was a great friendly banter to have.
My experience of Day 1 got me hooked, I had to come again, but I decided to be a little sensible and not push my health, so I saw Day 2 from home and came back for Day 3.
Team England Supporters
Day 3: Sachin Tendulkar Stand
On Day 1, I was at the Garware Pavilion Stand, which was very easy entry, but to get to the Sachin Tendulkar Stand, you had to take a walk past university grounds which was a little taxing for me since I was using walking sticks, but Charlie Chaplin seemed to easily walk past me with his walking stick in hand.. seriously, he was in the queue ahead of me, and a lot faster, he’d certainly aged gracefully and probably had a magic stick – I should’ve asked him for it! Silliness apart, seeing such dressing up and entertainment made the walking a little less difficult for me.
Once I got past security and got into the stand, I realised what a sunny, hot stand it was – if you’re not tucked away into the shady side, you will suffer and I saw a lot of people suffering (unless you’re English and wish to tan – then it’s a great stand, but don’t forget your sunscreen and do stay well hydrated).
Sitting in the shade, eating ice cream, and having some yummy pizza all delivered to my seat – it was perfect. O’ and yes, saw a very good century by Murli Vijay, an even more fabulous 15th century by Virat Kohli (who also crossed 1000 Test runs for 2016 and 4000 Test runs in his career) and of course, the partnership that slowly changed the tide in India’s favour – the Virat Kohli-Jayant Yadav partnership.
I have to mention one experience – four rounds of the Mexican wave! I have usually heard commentators say how the Mexican wave isn’t done too well by Indian spectators, but I so beg to differ on that. The Wankhede crowd did a minimum of four rounds of this, here’s two of those rounds, have a look..
The live dhol, the fun exchanges between both sets of fans and good cricket – it was an experience I would be happy to relive again and again. If you ever get the opportunity to go, whether you like/understand the sport or not, it’s the atmosphere that makes this place what it is and it’s certainly worth the visit.
Live dhol & passionate India supporters. The man with the white box was actually an ice-cream vendor!
Just one last thing – a major negative about Wankhede – it’s not a wheelchair friendly place, or even if you’re using walking sticks like I was – it was still a major struggle with uneven steps in the stands. If I wasn’t so overly passionate (and a little stupid), I would not have gone. But like I said, if you can, and want to experience infectious energy, then it’s worth going.