Cricket fan's view: World Cup madness in Mohali

Indian cricket fans celebrate the win over Pakistan The aftermath of the match was much more exciting than the game itself

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The Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali is probably the best-kept stadium in India.

I could not appreciate this fact in the two hours that I spent inside the stadium before Wednesday's World Cup semi-final with Pakistan.

Naturally, the seat my friend and I had been allotted did not exist.

Our time was spent searching in vain for our seats before we sat ourselves down in whichever seats took our fancy, hoping the owners would not show up.

When Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first there was celebration in the stands.

Not for any tactical advantage we might have gained but because they might get to see Tendulkar's 100th hundred a little sooner.

As our innings started and Sehwag blazed away, one of the interesting things I noticed was that people who might otherwise pride themselves on their rationality seemed willing to try anything to ensure India's success.

People were not allowed to remove their caps for fear of losing a wicket.

During that devastating over bowled by Wahab Riaz, where he took two wickets, we happened to be eating ice cream.


After the over was finished my friend turned to me and said: "Finish your ice cream fast, it's bad luck."

Sachin Tendulkar Sachin Tendulkar was not at his imperious best on Wednesday

All I could think was that someone must be doing something right because Tendulkar was playing one of the luckiest innings of his life.

He was dropped four times, stumped once and given out leg before wicket only to have it successfully reviewed.

It seems almost blasphemous to say this, but I am glad this was not his 100th hundred.

It was not, as an innings, worthy of that pedestal in cricketing history.

If you compare it with his previous World Cup encounter with Pakistan in 2003, when he dismantled Shoaib Akhtar, only to fall at 98 to an unplayable delivery, the innings he played on Wednesday was mediocre in every way.

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If this was how we behaved after winning the semi-final I cannot begin to imagine the madness that will ensue if we win the final on Saturday”

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Even the ball he got out to was wide outside the off stump and on a good day Tendulkar would have sent it crashing into the boundary.

As it happened he gave Pakistan their fifth attempt at getting him out caught and Afridi, who had watched helplessly from the sidelines as Tendulkar was dropped time after time, took a good, low catch to make good on his promise to deny Tendulkar his 100th ton.

On the day Tendulkar's batting was enough to see India through to the finals, but I cannot help thinking that the game was just a pale imitation of the contest eight years ago when Tendulkar was at his imperious best.

The aftermath of Wednesday's win was in some ways more exciting than the match itself.

The streets of Chandigarh were full of jubilant supporters, stopping at major traffic junctions to dance, and hanging half-naked out of their car windows, screaming their delight.

Any sensible Indian on the streets after the match should have been a little afraid.

Surreally, the Punjab police began charging slow-moving cars to keep order.

I saw a windscreen explode under the attention of a police constable's lathi (stick).

If this was how we behaved after winning the semi-final I cannot begin to imagine the madness that will ensue if we win the final on Saturday.

Especially if Tendulkar gets his 100th hundred. From what I saw in Mohali, Bombay beware!

Raghu Kesavan is a student of philosophy at St Stephen's College, University of Delhi.

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