It was 9th December, 2007 when our own Sourav Ganguly, a.k.a. Dada was dazzling his bat to his only Test double century at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. Lallan, though not a sports fanatic, made his cricket debut the same day. Not the way you are expecting. It was his first experience as cricket audience which turned out to be Dada’s best cricket day in his sports career.
To give company to a set of stupid flaunts, Lallan invited three of his own colleagues with him including me. Unfortunately, I had already booked my ticket online much before he made his offer. Apart from us, there was one more man (my Manager) who seemed to be at his mid-forties that time, carried himself to the stadium from the same office.
It was broad daylight – the second day of the match. I reached much early, perhaps an hour before. The best part of it was to see the players from both sides practicing on the ground. That’s one of the beautiful attractions for a Mr. Late like me to be there much before the match time, that too a Test’s first innings. When I entered the gallery, it was all vacant. Suddenly my eyes fell on the P5 Tower. There was a man sitting alone, with a white hat on head. By chance, my seat too was at the same Tower – just behind the wicket-keeper. “He must be a true sports lover” – I murmured and proceeded towards my seat. Reaching the place, I discovered him to be my manager, Suraj. He too took a few minutes to settle, finding me in the gallery so early. It’s the feel of the encompassing peace and thrill of watching international sports stars practicing on ground which brought us together beyond office premises.
Couldn’t count when the gallery got crowded gradually. A sudden heavy roar brought us back to sense, “Hey Akash, come to the back seats. It’s vacant there. Why are you scorching yourself under the sun?” It was Lallan with his two colleagues, Suzanne and Ramaiya. The smell of the green grasses, awesome view of the ground and proximity to the wicket-keeper made me prefer to bear the scorching heat than to enjoy the back rows (which I wouldn’t have otherwise dared to reject at any place except a sports stadium). Disappointed, Lallan continued with his flaunts as the match went on.
Hundreds of Indian flags were swaying across the stadium as Irfaan and Dada lifted their bats respectively. Experiencing such an ever-green innings in Indian cricket history live right at the stadium would be an awesome memory for any cricket lover. Just to share the same with Lallan, I looked back. Couldn’t believe my eyes – he was dozing! The two ladies on either side, with utter disappointing expressions, were nonchalantly moving their hankies around to keep off the heat. Didn’t dare to look back again till the match broke off for lunch. Thousands of spectators breaking for just an hour’s lunch break create a huge mess, ending up in missing few overs, close to five at least – and that’s where my previous experiences stopped me from leaving the seat. Suraj too chose to stay back skipping the lunch than five Indian overs.
As expected, a jerk from Lallan made me look back again. He, along with his companions, was eager to take the complementary lunch. For Lallan, it was the only entertainment in a Test match.
Suraj was so engrossed with Kumble’s one and only test captaincy at his home-ground, he missed his conventional office etiquette! Just before closing the day, as the umpire’s finger went up in favour of Kumble, Suraj hugged me madly…which hardly would any manager do with his petty team mate. I thank my fate to book a seat much separated from Lallan, otherwise could not have enjoyed the match till the last ball.