I have been traveling across the world to support team India for some years now but no year has been as significant as 2018 – 3 massive away tours to SA, England & Australia. I have been a test cricket lover for years and the chance to see India play in these countries was a mouth - watering prospect.
I started planning for the SA trip way back in May-Jun 2017. We were in our 10th year of marriage and wanted to celebrate in a special way. Hence my husband, daughter and I decided to watch 3 ODIs combined with wildlife safaris and sightseeing in SA (all happy that way!). I worked with The Bharat Army travel team to plan my SA tour and it was mind blowing – from the match tickets, hotels to sightseeing - all top class.
The 3 ODIs in the landmark stadiums of Wanderers, Cape town and Centurion were superb! My family had a tough time with me because once I enter the stadium, everything else is a blur – don’t need food, water, restroom etc. I used to ensure that we were at the stadium before the players arrive and left after the team bus had disappeared. We faced some issues with the weather– was super-hot in Cape town, rained like crazy in Johannesburg and the match was a single sided affair in Centurion but who cares? Well, my family did:)!
Some moments to remember -
1. We won the Centurion and Cape town matches. We missed watching AB as he was injured but he came back in Johannesburg. The ABD, ABD chants are unforgettable but we lost the match
2. In the match in Cape town, the Indian team was warming up before the match and my daughter was screaming “Virat uncle, Virat uncle” and Virat stopped and looked for her, waved at her and continued playing. She hasn’t been able to forget it till now and guess never will!
3. On the way back to India, at the Johannesburg airport, my husband and I were looking out for the Indian team (guess it rubbed off on him too) but missed them by 5 mins I guess
4. The way people enjoy the matches in SA – getting their own tents and barbeques, relaxing on the grass, enjoying in a jacuzzi in the stands, dancing on African music– was just unbelievable.
Though I enjoyed a lot, my family decided that they would never join me for any match going forward, as I ignore them completely once we enter the stadium. So now, our family vacations and my cricket vacations are mutually-exclusive – my husband says family vacations are non-existent!
I had gone to England for the last test match at the Oval. We were already 3-1 down in the series and everybody was asking me – what is the point of going? Whether we win, lose or draw a match, we must unconditionally support the team and so I went! My cousin Siva is my companion for all matches and we love traveling together.
There are some great memories from the trip. Though I knew some Bharat Army members, I got a chance to meet all of them at this match. The experience was magical!
From Shikhar Dhawan doing a bhangra with the BA on day 1 to dancing and singing whole day on day 2 to watching Alistair Cook’s last match century to Jimmy Anderson becoming the highest wicket taker and KL Rahul and Rishabh’s centuries .. it was incredible! We also gave a good fight towards the end but fell well short of the target. The score line of 4-1 was not reflective of the kind of cricket we played. We were extremely competitive but results did not go our way due to selection errors and not keeping the pressure on England at crucial times.
The sight of a full stadium in a test match is indescribable for a test match lover and you can experience that in England. The Barmy Army and Bharat Army songs, chants and Banter was super enjoyable.
Another away test series loss! Will it end my travel plans? Find out…
The third away tour was to Australia and I started planning for it way back in 2018. The BA Australia team was all geared up and I could not wait for it to be December. The dhols, banners, flags were all set in advance.
I grew up watching boxing day and new year’s test matches at the MCG & SCG and always wanted to be a part of it some time in my life.
My cousin and I landed in Melbourne on 25th and visited another cousin who lives in Melbourne. The feeling on 26th morning cannot be explained – have been waiting for this for years and here it was. It was a goose bumps experience at MCG on the boxing day! Unfortunately, our seats were not with the BA but nevertheless I enjoyed India’s batting display on the first 2 days – gritty, patient test match batting.
From the 3rd day, we sat with the BA team and the rest is history. The way the group cheered the team with flags, drums, chants, songs was something the crowd, the Indian team and the Australian team will never forget. Why Australian team? We were sitting next to the Australian dugout and the banter was super entertaining.
We were about to experience something very special that will remain with all of us for life. We had not won a test match at MCG since 1980/80 and had never taken a series lead in Australia. It was their fortress for so many years and to experience a win there was a dream come true. Some things are priceless in life - The way the team fought, the way the Bharat army got the crowd together to cheer the team and above all we got what all Indian fans dream of – a thank you from the Indian team. They walked towards our stand to appreciate our efforts. It means a lot to fans like me who travel from different parts of the world to support the team - managing work, family and finances. This small gesture goes a long way in making us feel valued and motivates us even more to travel with the team.
The Bharat army went to the team hotel to welcome the team with the chants and songs and the Indian team really enjoyed the gesture. We even partied at the team hotel for some time and the crowd around also joined the celebrations.
The Bharat army is the Indian team’s 12th man and as we grow in numbers, the Indian team will never feel like they are playing away from home!
I am all ready for the SCG test and what do I want???
2-1, 2-1 ,2-1…We want 3-1!!!!
Next, I look forward to the ODI series with Australia in India and the world cup in 2019 in UK. I hope to see more people join the BA in the stands and ensure that the Indian team hears us loud and clear!!