The 2nd of April 2011 will always go down in history as one of the most memorable nights in Indian Cricket History. From the moment MSD lifted the trophy in a packed Wankhede stadium, their was no doubt Indian fans from all over the world would travel to support Team India’s efforts in retaining the cup in the next edition of the World Cup Downunder.
The Bharat Army planned for 4 years for the next event in Aus/NZ and it’s hard to believe the tournament has already come and gone.
We relive some of the experience we shared and some of the cricketing highlights and lowlights from a Bharat Army perspective in what turned out to be a fantastic tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
It’s fair to say not many Indian Fans came into the tournament with much hope based on the Tri Series performance in Australia during the run up to the tournament. Their was also the overwhelming feeling that although India had arguably the best batting line up in the world they also had one of the most inexperienced bowling line ups out of the teams in ‘contention’.
Raj Patel from Bharat Army Leicester tells us what his expectations were before he left for Australia:
Being a realist, I always felt we would struggle to retain the cup in Australian conditions and that a team from the southern hemisphere would be best suited.
With this in mind, a group from Bharat Army Midlands planned to go to watch India play in the group stages.
I had no doubt that we would qualify from the group stage barring a disaster, thereafter it was a straight shoot out to the final.
My main expectation prior to the world cup was to beat Pakistan and retain our unbeaten record against them in the World Cup – Well we did that at a canter! Need I say anymore!
As with all tours both abroad and at home, it wasn’t all about just the cricket. We wanted to meet up with both old and new Bharat Army members and share experiences together and have lasting memories, as well as see and explore what Australia had to offer – we weren’t disappointed and it was everything we expected and more. We met some great people with whom we will have a lasting friendship for years to come.
The ‘Big’ One:
Many Indian fans felt the first match of the tournament against arch rivals Pakistan would set the tone of how India would play and how right they all were!
Rakesh Patel, Founder of The Bharat Army talks about his experience in Adelaide:
With the tournament spanning over 6 weeks I, like many other Indian Fans had a problem. The Big Game v Pakistan was the first game of the tournament however I had massive belief we would make it to the finals and didn’t want to miss out on watching India later in the tournament either. What to do?
I managed to convince two good friends to fly out to Adelaide for just the weekend and then travel out a second time to Australia from QF stage. 2 Trips to Australia in 2 weeks, 48 hour round trips each time – still can’t believe we did it! I personally had travelled to see every single India v Pakistan match at World Cups since Bangalore in 1996 and did not want to miss out on potentially another victory against the arch rivals, so off we sent for our short weekend away to Australia!
We landed in Adelaide 48 hours before the game, you could hardly believe an India v Pakistan match was about to take place, hardly any fans in sight and only a few random Indian TV crews hanging around hotels. The Scene 24 Hours later was much different! Almost 50,000 fans (80% Indian) descended into Adelaide the city was a sea of Blue with a splash of Green and the atmosphere was electric!
The Bharat Army held its traditional World Cup party at The Bombay Bicycle Club which turned out to be a roaring success with Indian Fans from all over the world attending and joining in singing the Bharat Army Song Book a number of times!
The match itself in the end didn’t live up to the hype, Pakistan really didn’t show up but the atmosphere was something special! The ICC got it spot on creating Supporter fan zones which made for an amazing atmosphere! In the end the long weekend to Australia more than justified the 48 hour round trip journey and wetted the appetite to come back for the later stages of the tournament which we couldn’t wait for. 6-0 !
Group Stage Summary:
It’s fair to say come the end of the Group stage, all those doubts around the Indian teams bowling attack were gone! In fact India were won of the very few teams who could boast taking 10 wickets in nearly all of the Group games – How many of us would have predicted that?!
Confidence within the team had grown, their was a clear level of expectation now and Indian Supporters worldwide started to believe a little more…Dhoni had worked his magic again!
By the time India got to the QF match v Bangladesh the expectation was at an all time high. It’s fair to say Bangladesh had the Indians a little worried, particularly early on during the Indian innings however in the end the Indian Team showed its class, experience and more important recent form and stormed through to a Semi Final against Australia at the SCG.
Those Indian fans who travelled from a far and gambled with the hope to see India during the later stages of the tournament started to dream a little bit more!
Akshay Loomba one of the Bharat Army main Organisers was at the tournament from the first Indian game to the Final. He talks about his experience touring with The Bharat Army a World Cup for the first time:
It was my first away tour outside England with the Bharat Army. I got to Australia with little expectation and would have been delighted with a semi final finish at the start of the tournament. There was a good turn out from the Bharat Army throughout the tournament and as usual made their presence heard loud and proud!
The sound of dhol drums, singing and dancing was a daily affair and India’s unbeaten run only added to the support as the tournament progressed. From the MCG to Hamilton Park I saw India during each and every game and the atmosphere made by those who travelled was immense, there is no doubt that we have the best fans in the world. I made new friends and new memories and I’m looking forward to watching India in future tournaments around the world!
World Cup Semi Final:
What a serial experience it was turning up at the SCG to watch India play a World Cup Semi Final against Australia at the home of Australian cricket! – All you could see was a Sea of Blue! We’re the Aussies really at home? Where did all these Indian fans come from??? The odd splash of Yellow you could see, on the whole were bitter Pakistani and Bangladeshi fans who turned up wearing Australian Yellow.
If anyone doubted the passion, commitment, and pure dedication of Indian fans around the world, that day cemented why The Bharat Army are the best fans in the World.
We may well have lost the match on the pitch but Sydney that day was mini India and and we definitely won the match in the stands!
So another World Cup came and went, another Bharat Army Tour following Team India away from home with some fantastic stories and experiences, amazing friendships built and all the emotions you could imagine supporting our beloved Team India.
They played their hearts out, played like champions and did the country proud. You win some you loose some but one thing is for sure Win Loose or Draw The Bharat Army will support them forever more!