G. Narasimha Rao

Schoolchildren root for India

VISAKHAPATNAM: Vizagites once again proved that they love volleyball. The Port indoor stadium is packed much above its capacity for the first Test between India and Pakistan on Tuesday evening.

The contest is between India and Pakistan might be a big reason but the locals showed that they would not lose an opportunity to witness an international volleyball contest. The stands were full one hour before the match commenced and the aisles and the open space behind the top row of seats was quickly filled up. About one fifth of those who have been issued complimentary passes in the VIP stand did not come and about 15 minutes after the match commenced, some people were allowed to occupy the vacant seats here.

Some schools like the Sri Prakash and Nalanda sent their pupils and they were the loudest among the crowd. The children were waving small Indian tricolours all through the match.

A group of youngsters came dressed up in different attires and false long hair of different colours to attract the attention of all. They did not allow themselves go unnoticed by cheering the Indian team loudly all through the match.

The Indian team did not disappoint the crowd as they won the first set to a thunderous cheer. But when it lost the next two sets, the crowd became dull except when India scored points. Some truly sporting spectators cheered the Pakistan team also when ever it scored a good point.

But the fourth set brought the crowd to its original spirit when India won the set and went on to win the deciding final set to close the match. The crowd stood on its feet to acknowledge the greetings from the Indian and Pakistani teams at the end of the match.

Colourful ceremony

The five-Test series opened with a brief but colourful ceremony. National anthems of both countries were played.

Visakhapatnam MP and former Chief Minister N. Janardhana Reddy was the chief guest.

He and other dignitaries like Chairman of the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority P.S.N. Raju, Mayor P. Janardhana Rao, local MLAs and MLCs, Commissioner of Police N. Sambasiva Rao and others were present and gave away mementoes to the members of the Indian and Pakistan teams and officials. Vice-president of Volleyball Federation of India S. Kodandaramaiah, president of District Volleyball Association P.G.V.R. Naidu and others were present.

One jarring note of the opening ceremony was the MLC Revu Ratnakumari walking towards the area allotted for the people’s representatives even as Janaganamana was being played and every one in the stadium was standing in attention.