Pakistan v India, 1st ODI, Karachi

Just like Mumbai

Jagmohan Dalmiya called it the most orderly crowd he has ever seen

Anand Vasu in Karachi

March 13, 2004

Text size: A | A



The perfect backdrop © AFP
Enlarge

Jagmohan Dalmiya called it the most orderly crowd he has ever seen. Of course he would. He's a consummate politician. But the manner in which 33,000 Karachiites rose to the occasion in the face of a dramatic and absorbing game of cricket drowned out all talk of violent fringe elements and security concerns. Sourav Ganguly said soon after the game that he could barely hear his fielders. The clapping, cheering and plain old-fashioned yelling of a near-capacity crowd provided the perfect backdrop to the first one-day international of this series.

The start of a series is always special. No matter how well the spinmeisters hype the lead-up to a series, it is when the first ball is bowled that every switch in the part of the brain that makes one like cricket is thrown. The National Stadium in Karachi is massive. When it's packed, like it was today, it comes to life. When you have a fast bowler like Shoaib Akhtar steaming in to deliver the first ball, it's hard not to get goose-pimples at that moment, as the show gets under way.

Every time you walk out on the streets of this port city, whether it is the seriously upmarket beachside Clifton area, or the congested city centre, or Lalloo Keth, the hotbed of sectarian violence, you are met with warmth. So it was hardly surprising that the fans who thronged the stadium accorded the Indian team a fair response. When Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat, there was a roar that confirmed that Karachi is indeed a mirror-city of Bombay. When Sourav Ganguly flatbatted Abdul Razzaq for a six, people wearing blue and waving Indian flags were brought to their feet. When Rahul Dravid was bowled, for 99, there was a huge sigh of disappointment, a feeling of empathy for a man who had done so well and had been denied his due. Not all the people who sighed were Indian.

As the match cranked up to its exciting finale, people could hardly keep their emotions in check. Yet, for every shout of "India down down", there were answering cries of "India jeetega". When Inzamam-ul-Haq walked out to bat, in a high-pressure situation, there were sections in the crowd with enough of a sense of humour to chorus "Aloo aloo!" Well, Inzamam might not have seen the funny side of things, but you don't really expect a Pakistani home crowd to pick on their captain in a needle match against India.

Karachi rose, like a man wrongly jailed for murder and exonerated. The manner in which the crowd conducted itself lent substance to Dalmiya's statement that India's next tour of Pakistan would begin with a Test match here at the National Stadium. After this display, Karachi certainly deserves more than a solitary one-dayer in a 40-day tour.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be following the Indian team throughout this tour.

RSS Feeds: Anand Vasu

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Related Links
News : Bulletin
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Pakistan
Teams: India | Pakistan

    'It's scary to think I actually have a Test hat-trick'

New Zealand allrounder James Franklin remembers all his stats, and likes to take his five-year-old to watch football and rugby

Pup gets a grilling

The Cricket Monthly: Do cricketers know what they did last summer (and before)? We put Michael Clarke to the test

    'I didn't have the D/L sheet during the Durban World Cup game'

Shaun Pollock talks to Alison Mitchell about career highs and lows

    From support act to lead role

Numbers Game: Over the last four years, Rangana Herath has become Sri Lanka's strike bowler

The Phillip Hughes debate never ends

Russell Jackson: He makes buckets of runs but cannot hold his place in the Test side. What needs to work for him going forward?

News | Features Last 7 days

How bad must a defeat be to be unacceptable?

A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement

Time to liberate MS Dhoni

After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways

Dhoni's control test

For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset

Perfect Herath leads SL dominance

Sri Lanka's marks out of 10 following their 2-0 series win against Pakistan

'You should not be embarrassing your country'

Former players react to India's humiliating 1-3 series defeat in England

News | Features Last 7 days

    How bad must a defeat be to be unacceptable? (142)

    A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement

    Time to liberate MS Dhoni (116)

    After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways

    Dhoni's control test (75)

    For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset

    The two faces of James Anderson (60)

    Why does the man who is possibly England's greatest fast bowler occasionally turn into Mr Hyde on the field?

    One-day barrier to Indian Test progress (56)

    With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests