2 March 2013

Eden Gardens Diary


Here is a complete list of all those magical days that were spent in the Garden of Eden watching the greatest game ever invented by mankind. 

[I am deliberately keeping IPL out of this as it is everything else but Cricket.] 

27th November 1996
India Vs. South Africa

This was the very first time that I had entered Eden Gardens. What a majestic feeling it was. The very first sight of the green-ground had made me ecstatic. The roar of the spectators and the Mexican Waves were fascinating. The panoramic view of the Stadium was mindblowing. Spreading a newspaper on those ancient cement benches and sitting under the winter Sun. No need to sit on the exact seat-number. People sitting around me became my instant new best friends. I was 14 years old then. The grown-ups sitting around me treated me like their younger brother as I was alone in the stadium. They offered me biscuits and cakes. They asked me if I needed water. The first day was spent watching the batting skills of Andrew Hudson and Gary Kirsten and also was spent zooming in on the players through my binocular. 

19th March 1998
India Vs. Australia

The second day of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was spent watching Navjot Sidhu and VVS Laxman getting out in the 90's. I was so disappointed as I was almost praying hard for them to get their centuries. Even after I came back home, I was still very sad that the Openers couldn't reach the three-figure mark. One batsman getting out in the nervous-nineties is still acceptable but both the Openers failing to reach that magic-mark is something of the proportions of a Greek-Tragedy.

16th February 1999

India Vs. Pakistan

This was like the best First Day ever spent. Even before the great Calcutta crowd could get up from sleep, brush, drink tea and then come to Eden and find a seat, Pakistan was reduced to 26 for 6. I mean just watching 6 consecutive wickets fall in such a short span of time was simply heavenly bliss. The Mexican-Waves in that morning session were the sweetest ever. At the end of the day, Sadagoppan Ramesh and VVS Laxman came out to open the innings for India. Someone remarked, "Ram-Lakkhan bat kortey naamchhey". Priceless. And then there was the phenomenon named Shoaib Akhtar, someone who started his run-up from almost the boundary rope. In the year 1999 thankfully there were no Facebook or Twitter, otherwise these two sites would have crashed every time someone wrote the name of the pacer in their search-boxes. I mean the name Shoaib Akhtar was on everybody's lips and everybody had his own theory about him. When he clean bowled Laxman, someone remarked from the crowd, "Goru na kheley eto jorey ball kora jai naa". When Anil Kumble came in as the nightwatchman, we were all worried about Jumbo's physical safety. Someone again remarked, "Ambulance ke khobor diye rakh".         

12th March 2001
India Vs. Australia

The second day was saddening for me. The only highlight was watching Steve Waugh, whom I love and respect the most among all Australians, complete his century. Again I had come back home with a heavy heart that day. India looked like swallowing an Innings-defeat. At the end of Day 2, even Dravid and Laxman couldn't have predicted the outcome of that historic match. Hindsight has 20/20 vision. But on Day Two I never realized that I was witnessing the greatest Test Match in the history of the game. Steve Waugh failed to conquer the 'final frontier' and his Vijay-Rath was stopped at Calcutta. 

2nd November 2002
India Vs. West Indies

The Fourth Day was spent watching the God of Cricket's century. What more could one ask? The lion-esque roar of applause was deafening. Though the Match headed for an inevitable draw. 

18th November 2003
India Vs. Australia [ODI]

Eden Gardens under divine radiance. The Glow of Heaven. My first limited-overs' experience. I wanted to capture that moment. That very year I had got my first mobile phone and the Airtel number which I still use today. Sadly there was no camera in my mandhattar-o thakur-dar amoler Nokia 5110.

13th November 2004
India Vs. Pakistan [ODI]

No ifs and buts as India would have won the match but for Salman Butt who proved to be a Pain in the Butt as I had to sit on my butt to watch him bat as he butted his way to victory.

2nd December 2004
India Vs. South Africa

The Fifth Day was spent witnessing an Indian victory. The Turbanator took 7 wickets and the remaining 3 went to Jumbo. 

19th March 2005
India Vs. Pakistan

The Fourth Day was spent saluting The Wall. Someone started singing from the crowd, "Jam Jam Jammy".  

25th November 2005
India Vs. South Africa [ODI]

Now this was the only time when Eden Gardens supported the foreign team instead of the home team. Throughout the match we shouted "Chappell Go Back" and even displayed the words on white chart papers. [Reminded me of "Simon Go Back" from the history text books]. 

The name Chappell sounds somewhat similar to chappal and he deserved every single footwear available inside the stadium on his bloody face. He also got his due share of the choicest Bong slangs, though every word fell short to describe him properly. Throughout this match I was talking to a female friend through sms-es as I was trying to do to her what Chappell was doing to the Indian Cricket Team. Incidentally Sourav Ganguly scored 159 runs on that very same day against Maharashtra at Pune. The Eden Gardens' electronic scoreboard constantly kept on flashing the updates of this domestic match. The Eden crowd loved it and loudly cheered every single update. India lost the match and the crowd was happy. However someone should have chopped-off Chappell's middle finger. Two years of collective consciousness and hatred gave birth to Biranchi Maharana who actually did what we all had wanted to do. Bhubaneswar-ey giye pujo diye aasha uchhit chhilo. That year Chappell's face should have been used as the face of Mahisasura during Durga Puja. 

3rd December 2007
India Vs. Pakistan

The Fourth Day told us that the Match was going towards a lame draw.

18th February 2010
India Vs. South Africa

Fifth Day witnessing an Indian victory.

14th-17th November 2011
India Vs. West Indies

Couldn't go even for a single day as I was attending the Kolkata Film Festival which was going on at that time. I was there from 9am till 10pm everyday watching 5 films/day. The joke, which could also have been true, going around was that there were more people at Nandan than at Eden.  

7th December 2012
India Vs. England

The Third Day was spent watching the magnificent batting of Captain Cook and my personal favourite Kevin Pietersen. I was there at the Stadium with my best friend. There was this teenage boy sitting alone near us. It was my duty this time to treat him like a younger brother and make him feel part of the great Eden tradition where strangers behave like family members, sharing food and water, applauding and cursing at the exact moments, showing-off eachother's knowledge about the game, senior citizens reminiscing about a bygone era, children of the IPL generation hoping for a sixer every over in a Test Match, everybody from all walks of life, caste, creed, race, bank account, social status, facebook status, single, committed, married, divorced, homosexual, heterosexual, transsexual, almost everybody bound together by the religion of Cricket...


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