Fans get a taste of Indian summer under Melbourne skies
With Boxing Day beckoning, Yarra Park was a beehive of activity as the three-day Indian Summer Festival, with the blessings of the Victoria government and Cricket Australia, kicked off with spectacular frenzy
It truly felt like an Indian summer in Melbourne yesterday. After two days of overcast skies and spells of rain, the sun beat down in all its radiance, shining down from cloudless blue skies.
And, with Boxing Day beckoning, Yarra Park was a beehive of activity as the three-day Indian Summer Festival, with the blessings of the Victoria government and Cricket Australia, kicked off with spectacular frenzy.
The Indian Summer Festival stretches across three days - Sunday, and then December 26 and 27, the opening two days of the MCG Test. The clear highlight of the annual Bupa Family Day was the presence on the stage of the Indian and Australian cricket teams, the former greeted with a cheer that must have left the latter wondering who the home team were.
Yarra Park itself was taken over by a sea of Indians - some 200,000 of them reside in Melbourne - who vociferously welcomed their heroes, lapping up the opportunity of seeing them from less than 30 metres away.
Understandably, the loudest approbation was reserved for the man who has taken Australia by storm. Fans young and old, men and women alike couldn't have enough of Virat Kohli, India's mercurial captain who charmed the gathering by terming Melbourne 'a special place to play cricket in', and exhorting the Indian fans to turn up in large numbers and support his side on Boxing Day.
Either side of brief addresses by Martin Pakula, the Victorian Minister for Sport, and moderated exchanges between R Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, as well as Kohli and Tim Paine, catchy Bollywood tunes set the feet tapping.
Upwards of 5,000 people were in attendance, an overwhelming majority of them Indians, as they celebrated the five cultural pillars linking India and Melbourne - food, music, art, film and cricket.
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