India 239 for 9, read the scoreboard at the Eden Gardens as Suman Kumar Jha walked in with wife and five-year-old son in tow on Day 5 of the third Test against England.
It was to be a lesson in sportsmanship and the true spirit of an Eden fan from father to son. “Everyone supports the team when it does well but when I started watching cricket at Eden, Calcuttans would stand by the team through thick and thin and appreciate good cricket,” said Jha, 37, from Salkia, Howrah.
The Jhas were among the 30,000-odd people who had turned up at the ground despite imminent defeat.
This was, after all, a venue that had seen 85,000 people turn up to witness an imminent win by the same opposition, then led by Tony Greig, in 1977. India had been trailing England’s first-innings score by 21 in that match with three second-innings wickets left on Day 4. England completed an easy victory the next day.
The home side fared no better on Sunday. But Jha junior enjoyed the 55 minutes of cricket that he got to watch. The only time the Upper KG student at MC Kejriwal Vidyapeeth, Liluah, looked grim — and just for a few seconds — was on learning that he wouldn’t get to see Sachin bat.
“Aryan is now too young to understand why we came. When he grows up, he will,” Jha senior said from his seat in Block B, dominated by English supporters.
The last Indian pair at the crease on Sunday added only six runs to the overnight score but the fans at the stadium gave them a standing ovation.
If anybody had hopes of seeing Captain Cook play a few cracking shots, they were dashed when he was stumped in the first over. Next to go were Trott and Pietersen and suddenly the score read 8/3. The Eden crowd made itself heard, for once drowning out the trumpets of the Barmy Army with its renowned roar.
The excitement was shortlived, though. Ian Bell wrapped up the match in a hurry.
“For a moment, we had started hoping (India could pull off a win)….We have seen miracles happen here,” smiled Jha.