An artist paints a Tricolour on a youth’s face on way to the stadium in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Jan. 19: The roof came down was how Ravi Shastri described it and he was not far off the mark. As Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked into bat and put the final touches to a beautifully scripted Indian win over England at Ranchi’s international cricket stadium today, the 35,000-strong crowd erupted in joy.
The day began early in Ranchi. The capital woke up to tattooed faces, tricolours and blowing trumpets as all roads led to Dhurwa where the spanking new international stadium complex was hosting its maiden ODI.
Clad in Team India tees, tricoloured headgear and wristbands in place, hundreds began their march to Dhurwa as early as 6am. As the sun rose higher, the crowds on the streets swelled. Soon, there were serpentine queues tail-backing two to three kilometres on every road leading to Dhurwa roundabout.
“I knew that many would be coming to see the match, which is why I started at 7am. But still it took me two hours to get to the stadium from Ratu Road,” said cricket buff Prakash Singh, who was present en famille. “This was the first time that I saw so many cars and bikes on Ranchi’s streets,” he added.
The collective enthusiasm was infectious, and the atmosphere both inside and outside the stadium was electric.
Small-time vendors, armed with Indian flags, posters that read 6 and 4, and colours to paint faces with jostled for space on the roads leading to the stadium.
“I have sold 60 flags so far. I have enough pocket money to keep me happy for the rest of the month now,” said JP Market resident and undergraduate student Ashish Kumar.
The enterprising youngster started stocking up on flags since early this month. “I started buying flags from Upper Bazar and soon had 200. I am confident of selling all before the match starts,” he said at 10am.
Inside the stadium, the first round of cheering for local lad Dhoni was a standing ovation from the crowd when he came into the middle for the toss at 11.30am. “Toss jeeta, ab match bhi jeetao (Toss won, now win the match),” spectators in Wing A and B roared.
As the brilliant show by Indian bowlers felled English players like ninepins, the roar in the stadium refused to die down. There were no silent spells.
Those who could not make it inside the stadium, were not to be deprived. They were there — on trees, on walls, on top of vehicle — whichever perch would offer them a sneak peak into the action inside. From their vantage positions they too chanted “India, India”.
To make match day perfect, the traffic police too did not disappoint. Senior superintendent of police Saket Kumar Singh said 1,000 traffic personnel had been deployed for the day.
“We have been working on it for long and everyone had been briefed on dos and don’ts. Our aim was to ensure cars moved freely and no road was blocked,” he said.