India’s Obsession — Cricket

Driving around New Delhi, one sees cricket matches being played throughout the day in many dirt fields and parks.  It is truly the sport that everyone in India is obsessed with playing.  Their greatest rivalry is Pakistan and when India plays Pakistan, everyone is glued to a TV set watching the match.  Cricket matches are constantly being played and replayed on TVs that are in restaurants.  It is truly the game that is followed by almost everyone.

It is believed that cricket was first introduced in England in the 1300s.  As the British Empire had an influence throughout the world, cricket was introduced to many of the countries it ruled.  As a result, cricket arrived in India by British royalty in the mid 1800s.

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This past Saturday night, we finally attended our first Indian Première League (IPL) Cricket Match between the Delhi Daredevils and the Rajasthan Royals.  Tyler booked us some tickets on line by a company similar to a StubHub in the United States.  He had to pick up the tickets on Saturday between 11am and 6pm.  The adventure in locating the place of business was something to write about on its own, but we can save that for another time.  Tyler invited one of our drivers, Ashok, and his seven year old son Akshay to join us.  The driver’s son was so excited that he was telling all of his friends at school and they couldn’t believe that he got to go to an IPL cricket match.  He was a delight to have join us.

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Conner sitting next to our driver’s son, Akshay.

On walking to the stadium, of course, there are scores of people trying to sell you their sodas, shirts, flags, etc.  One funny moment going in was a vendor shouting out 20 rupees and as soon as we approached him his product was now 50 rupees for us.  Upon entering the stadium, only in India, would you find massive amounts of hired help to do some of the basic things.  There were four turnstiles at the spot we entered.  At each turnstile there was one employee to take your ticket, another to scan it, another to turn the turnstile for you and another to direct you.  Conner stated, “only in India, could labor be this cheap to justify it.”.

Not knowing what to expect we arrived there a bit earlier than we needed to.  The extra time before the game, though, ensured that after many requests and Tyler’s persistence, that a ladder was finally removed that blocked some of our seats.  Before they finally moved the ladder I had mentioned that there were so many electrical wires wrapped around it I was afraid they might shut off some power for the event if they did try to move it.  We finally got an unobstructed view from the second tier of the stadium, though and they were pretty decent reserved seats.  Now a reserved seat on your ticket doesn’t mean someone won’t already be sitting in your seat and they will insist that it is their seat until you pull the ticket out, maybe get an employee to assist and be just as insistent that this is your seat.  Once you get up and go somewhere during the half time break, one should not be surprised to find that your seats again are already taken.

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The ladder someone thought would be okay to just leave there.

Terms like wickets, bowlers, batsmen, overs, sixes, fours, boundaries, were all new to me in the game but with the help of my boys and husband, I was able to learn the simple rules of the game.  It was much better as the game progressed because I understood it better.  It reminded me of when Hailey was little and attending lots of American football games that her brothers played in.  One day, she sat down and watched a football game with her dad on TV and he explained the rules.  She told Tyler, “Dad, this game is a lot more interesting when I understand it.”  There were even cheerleaders at the event, about nine for each team.  They were set up around the stadium in groups of three doing dances and cheers.  Now for the die-hard cricket fan, the “real games” can go on for days.  Just recently they have started establishing some games and rules where the game is only 3+ hours so the normal person with a life can actually watch an entire game.  If you are wondering if cricket would be a sport to watch?  Well, if you do not like baseball or think that sport is boring, than cricket is definitely not for you.  It is not baseball for sure but the closest thing I can compare it to.

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The stands full of fans!

With mosquitos thick in the air already this year, we also got to experience the “pesticide service” spraying at the game.  About 10 minutes before the game started, without warning, a man came out and just started spraying chemicals along the edge of the field where it met the stands.  Again at the halfway break, the same chemicals were sprayed.  I have no idea how they can figure that is healthy for any of us sitting there or for the players that were standing out on the field.  But without warning, they just let the foggy mist do its job.  Definitely part of the India experience.

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The mosquito fumigation.

So our Delhi Daredevils lost the game by just a few points but it was a fun experience and something we will probably repeat.  We learned a few things to change for the next time (like make sure you never need to use the restroom while you are there), but it was so very fun to learn and experience cricket — the game everyone in India follows and enjoys!

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