All roads led to the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Tuesday as arch rivals India and Pakistan took to the pitch after a gap of nearly five years. Cricket frenzy gripped the city on Christmas and the holiday only added to the crowds that enjoyed the shortest version of the game eventually won by Pakistan.
Streaming in hours in advance to be greeted by tight security, spectators were subjected to multiple rounds of frisking and metal detector tests. Anticipating a good match between traditional rivals, the cricket enthusiasts, many of them donning the Indian tricolour, were made to flash their tickets at a number of barricaded checkpoints at the stadium.
As the team buses whizzed past the gates and into the stadium, the fans gave the players a roaring welcome.
The famed rivalry between the fans of the two teams was in full display. “Paanch saal ki lambi judai, aaj hogi fultu dhulai,” was one of the placards spotted among the sea of excited Indian cricket fans. As the match began and the host team started its innings, the crowd cheered India for every run made. Even singles sparked wave formations. The sprinkle of Pakistani fans strained their vocal chords to match up.
While many fans sported multi-coloured funky wigs, one group hailing from Rajasthan displayed a show of tradition with their pink turbans. “It’s been a long time since they played us and we are very confident that India will win the match,” B. Ajit said before rushing into the stadium.
A show of the high spirits that a good game can bring was when Prashanth, an archer who has competed in various competitions, went into the stadium on his wheelchair to cheer his team.
Even exams were forgotten as two Class 12 students decided to take a break from studies for the big day. “We are supposed to be studying for an exam but we are too excited to miss the match,” said Prajnapti and Sanjana.
Police officials, though amused by the excitement, continued to do the checks on people entering the stadium and threw away the banned items. Police officials at the stadium claimed there were no problems in parking despite the huge turnout. Traffic movement was prohibited on Queen’s Road and alternative parking arrangements made at KGID buildings, General Post Office and High Court premises and other grounds nearby, the police added.