5 November 2013

Sachin Tendulkar's 199th Test at Eden Gardens


The above issue of The Telegraph Colour Magazine is from 28th February 1993. I was 11 years old then. In this post I wrote something about the Hero Cup. 

Here is another post on Eden. 

Yes, from tomorrow I am going to Eden Gardens on all five days. This is the first time I am going to watch a Test match on all five days at the venue. I have been going for Test matches at Eden since 1996, but previously I have only visited Eden for only a day during a Test match. Never have I attended a Test match on all five days. This is going to be my first time. Here are my tickets for tomorrow's match. 

Also one can see some more pics at my Facebook album

I have always loved Eden. Here is a bit of Eden history: 

In 1804, the East India Company's civil servants had organised a cricket match between a team of Old Etonians and the Rest. It was played on the large open field lying to the south of Government House, virtually the area which you will be looking straight at as you emerge from the gate of the present day pavilion. The Etonians had won the match by an innings and 152 runs. 

Lord Auckland had created a ground on the northwest corner of Esplanade in 1841 and had named it the 'Auckland Circus Garden'. Later in 1854, to keep alive the memory of his two unmarried sisters, he renamed the ground 'Eden Gardens', as their family name was Eden. The British founded the Calcutta Cricket Club in 1825 and the present ground at Eden Gardens was created in 1865. Though the land originally belonged to Rani Rashmoni, ironically no Indians were allowed to play there till 20 years later in 1885. 

In 1885, the year of the founding of the Indian National Congress, the first international cricket match was held at Eden Gardens between the Clack Australian and Presidency Club teams. All the members of the Presidency Club team were Bengalis, and it was, along with the Wellington Club, one of the oldest cricket teams in India. 

The match had ended in a draw although the Bengalis had put up a stiff fight. After the match, in reply to a question put by the Captain of the Australian team, the Indian skipper, Nagendraprasad Sarbadhikari, said, " Although our British coach teaches us half-heartedly because we are Indians, we toiled hard and tried our best to be your equal. As a result, we were evenly matched". Later Lord Hawke had sent a letter of congratulations to the Indian Captain. A number of distinguished personalities had graced the stands during the match, among whom were the Prince of Wales, Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Surendranath Banerjee. 

I didn't know about the above piece of history and have only recently read about it in the 30th December 1984 issue of The Telegraph Colour Magazine

DAY ONE (6th November 2013) : 

Reached Eden around 10 am. Gate No. 9, Block E. It was very hot. My seat was just opposite the Club House. Had an awesome day. Made a few friends. Had lunch together. West Indies got bundled out for just 234 runs. The greatest moment of the day was when Sachin Tendulkar came to bowl and got a wicket in his first over. At stumps India were 37/0. Looking forward to Tendulkar's batting tomorrow. Today there were a lot of empty chairs. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a full house. Since digital cameras are not allowed inside Eden, therefore I had to click all pics through my mobile phone which only has a 1.3 megapixel camera.

DAY TWO (7th November 2013) : 

Reached Eden at 9 a.m. sharp. Exchanged my ticket to Block D. The greatest moment came soon when the God of Cricket came out to bat. But 10dulkar could only score 10 runs before the Umpire interrupted. I was so disappointed that I immediately came out from the gallery and started loitering near the food stalls. Met an old friend of mine there. Had a lovely chat with him after all these years. Didn't feel like entering the stadium any more. Suddenly the colourful Sudhir Kumar Gautam walked past me. A group of young boys started following him and wanted to click pictures with him. I was too sad and depressed to do such things. After some time I entered the stadium and saw that five Indian wickets were down. Around tea-break I left Eden and went to the American Library

DAY THREE (8th November 2013) : 

Reached Eden around 10 a.m. Exchanged my ticket to Block L1. Went upstairs and crossed the bamboo barrier and went to Block K1. Now this is the best Block in the stadium, obviously apart from the Club House. First of all there is a constant cool breeze coming from the Hooghly river. One gets a beautiful view of the Vidyasagar Setu on one side and the Victoria Memorial on the other side. Also saw the High Court. Anyways the view of the ground below was simply marvelous. A group of people sitting near me, most probably relatives of some police officer, was having some ethereal food from Bijoli Grill packets. I am damn sure that all of them will soon have stomach upsets and loose-motions. The match ended. India won. But everybody in the stadium was unhappy. Everybody started abusing the West Indian team and demanded that 'Test-Status' should be immediately taken away from them. 

(A comic moment happened when Ravi Shastri verbally struggled and stammered to pronounce the name of the Police Commissioner of Kolkata. It reminded me of one particular scene from Uttam Kumar's Chhadmabeshi.)  

Anyways, I was tremendously unhappy. Left the stadium and went and sat on those benches near the Shahid Minar. After some time I got up and started walking towards the Metro station. Suddenly an Esplanade-Tollygunge tram came and stood in front of me. Without even thinking for a second I boarded the tram. Went at the back and sat on the window seat. After many many many months I again went for a tram ride. It was awesome. The slow pace of the tram made the journey back home memorable. I asked a middle-aged co-passenger to click my picture through my 1.3 megapixel-wala mobile phone. He was amused at my request. He seemed to be a regular tram commuter. His facial expression revealed the fact that in his entire life I was the first person to request him to click a picture inside a moving tram. And here is that picture



(to be continued...)


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