Visakhapatnam: When millions, including Yuvraj Singh, were sitting on cloud nine, the clouds themselves were conspiring to offload the burden of expectations.
When thousands gathered at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium, on Saturday evening, to witness a watershed day in sports, the heavens spilled water on the mood, dampening the amazing atmosphere that eagerly awaited cricket (or Yuvraj).
Somebody rightly said — it never rains, but it pours. The gloomy day that it was, it turned out to be darker one when heavy downpour led to the cancellation of India’s first T20 International of the two-match series against New Zealand.
The crowd was trickling in, with almost 75 per cent of the 25,000 capacity stadium already filled, when the expectant hearts skipped a beat or two as the groundsmen pulled out the covers. It was 5.45 pm, with still more than an hour to go for the scheduled 7pm start of the match.
The official deadline for a minimum 5-over-per-side match was 10.15 pm. There was hope, but alas, the day was hopeless. The steady showers for the next two-and-a-half hours left the cricket ground fit only for water polo. An estimate of how desperate the people were to see the game was available as almost everyone who entered the ground stuck to their seats despite the chances, visibly, of action was almost nil.
At 8.15 pm, the electronic flashboard declared that the match has been called off owing to heavy rain. That was the end of a story that never began.
If you are wondering why didn’t the officials wait till 10.15, well, the groundsmen and their Super Soppers need at least two hours to try and get the field ready. So, two hours before the deadline, when the heavens refused to budge, the officials gave in.
And disappointment found a new definition on Saturday. It’s not that it is the first time that a match has been ruined by rain. But this match was different. Matchless, one could say.
When the flashboards once again lit up to inform the spectators that an announcement regarding the refund of tickets would be done in a day or two, one wondered whether that was enough of a consolation.
It was not. And it was then that Yuvraj took it upon himself to payback the love that made him the star that he is.
After being felicitated by the ACA with a memento, minutes after the match was called off, Yuvraj, the man who took on life head-on beyond the cricket field, did a lap of honour at the ground.
The spectators, who by then had surely thought that they missed a date with the fighter, were overwhelmed. Cheers greeted Yuvraj from every corner of the ground. He waved back.
However, what stood out during this entire episode was the fact that Yuvraj, in his dressing room tee and shorts, was barefeet. The puddles, the mud, the grass… Yuvraj, having seen life in a different colour in the last ten months, seemed eager not to disappoint a single inch of the stadium.
He left his footprints as his signature on a day which otherwise turned out to be a blank sheet. If you are still guessing what was going on in the champion’s mind, here’s his tweet which he posted after the match was called off: “sory to the fans nd spectators who wer inside and watchin on tv gues have to wait 3 mor days electrfyin atmsphere and thnk u for so mch lov”
The second and final T20, to be played in Chennai, is on Tuesday. It was raining in Chennai as well on Saturday.
But they say every cloud has a silver lining. Let Visakhapatnam be the last cloud we have seen, and let Chennai be the silver lining… Hope someone is hearing.