Melbourne: The waves of sound just kept coming. One after another. One bigger than the one before. It was a wall of sound. That was just when India batted.
India's players celebrate victory over South Africa in the Pool B 2015 Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Pic/AFP
When South Africa had a go at the impossible target of 308 — no team has ever chased 300+ total at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in an ODI before — the walls of sound crescendoed into tsunamis of sound, slamming from every direction, leaving the South Africans shell shocked and carrying India to an impressive win by 130 runs.
The official attendance at the MCG for the India vs South Africa match was 86,876. It felt like 86,800 of those were clad in India blue and the remaining 76 in green and yellow were just flotsam in the deep blue ocean.
Melbourne had been turned in to Mumbai with a swift stroke of blue. Indian skipper MS Dhoni tried to downplay the significant edge his team had in terms of fan support at the MCG. He said, with tongue firmly in cheek, "Let's give benefit of the doubt and say 20,000-30,000 were South African fans. It adds to the atmosphere."
MSD hails supporters
Dhoni credited the relentless support the Indian faithfuls are more than ready to show by turning out in huge numbers everywhere India play, and praised them for the lift his team receives as the fans amplify the sound as the day gets going. "It starts with the warm ups, and after the national anthem it multiplies." said Dhoni, "It's always good to play in front of good support.
Even in India, we don't have stadiums of this capacity, and when they are full, they have 40,000. But here in Australia, we have 50,000-60,000 supporting us. We need to give a lot of credit to (the fans). It's really heartening to see people coming from all over, not only from India, but Australia and England.
The usually sure handed South African team had some missteps while on the field with dropped catches and misfields. The two key batsmen for South Africa if they were mount any sort of challenge in response — skipper AB de Villiers and David Miller — were run out.
De Villiers refused to use the almost-home court advantage of India as an excuse for his side's slip-ups but conceded that it played a role in India's performance. "I don't think (the crowd noise had any effect on SA's fielding and run-outs) but obviously, it played a role for (India). It gave them a boost, a feeling of playing at home, with a lot of support."
India can expect their "home" support to continue right through the World Cup, here in Australia and across the Tasman in New Zealand as well. The tsunami will continue to sweep through every India match venue turning them in to another Indian city.