Melbourne: Enthralling is how I would describe yesterday's World Cup clash between India and South Africa. All these years when I played cricket, I always dreamt to be at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Anand Yalvigi (right) at yesterday’s India vs SA game at the MCG
I got goosebumps as soon as I entered the stadium. The atmosphere, boisterous fans and India's emphatic victory made it a perfect Sunday here. Although the Lord's is called the Mecca of cricket, I feel the MCG is at par with the London ground. The statue of Dennis Lillee, the museum… there is so much of history attached to this venue.
Indian supporters were expected to turn out in large numbers, but that they would outnumber the South African fans was unthinkable. Seventy to 80 per cent fans were Indians. I felt I was watching a match at the Wankhede Stadium.
The only difference was we were allowed to carry beer to our seats here. I, however, felt the Adelaide match against Pakistan was a much noisier affair than this one.
Both Indian and South African fans were appreciative and cheered whenever a nice shot was played or a good delivery was bowled.
In a jiffy...
Despite such a high-profile clash and stringent security measures in place, I was on my seat in flat 40 seconds. One must appreciate the way the match was organised. I exited the stadium in five minutes.
This is one thing which India can learn from Australia. However, it is also to the duty of fans to be a bit more disciplined so that they can get inside the ground without any hassle. It was a 50-50 contest between India and South Africa. Once we had 300-plus on the board, I was sure we would win.
Now, I know why my good old friend Sanjay Bangar (India's assistant coach), whom I met over dinner on Saturday, was so confident of India doing well. He was happy with the preparations for the World Cup and is confident Team India will only get better and better.
I met a liftman, who has been working at the MCG since 1986, and he said he'd never seen such an electrifying atmosphere for a non-Australia match before. That probably summed things up for me.
Anand Yalvigi played first-class cricket for Mumbai, Maharashtra and Karnataka