MELBOURNE: Siraj. Pant. Sundar. Repeat. And then Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Repeat. At the Gabba, as India notched up a historic win powered by players who would mostly have warmed up the bench, these were the mantras uttered most fervently by India fans in Australia.
Twenty-year-old student Madhav Thapa reached the stadium alone when 19 overs were left on Day 5 of play. “Bharat mata ki jai could be heard loud. After the match was won, it was like a storm in the stands. I felt the entire arena was shaking,” he told TOI. “There was a sea of blue. I could barely see two Australian flags. Like, wow,” said Thapa.
Rohit Bindra, 38, a contractor in Australia, was hoping for a draw at best. “We were chanting ‘Jite ga bhai jitega’. And we did. On Day 5 even the Australian supporters started cheering the Indian boundaries. I could see Australian supporters around us applauding the fours and sixes India was hitting. It was just unreal. People were chanting Vande Mataram. We knew India was going for the win when Starc was hit for 20 in one over. It became absolutely electric. Siraj running around, waving, interacting with the fans. The team looked very happy.”
Railway controller Narvinder Singh was present all five days of the Test with his 10-year-old kid. For him, watching Rishab Pant batting “was as exciting as watching Virender Sehwag bat 15 years ago.” He said: “We were sitting in fear hoping he (Pant) would be careful. And he was, doing a reverse sweep with 25 overs left. We watched history being created.”
There was also less sledging after the events in Sydney. “The crowd was very cautious throughout the test. There wasn’t as much sledging, instead there was more chanting,” he said.
When the Indian team was taking pictures with the trophy, the stadium reverberated with “India! India!” This was at the same time Justin Langer was being interviewed by a channel and the correspondent had to request the crowd to be softer so that the interview could be conducted. And when Tim Paine was being interviewed after the game, all that could be heard was “Ashwin! Ashwin”.