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Rediff.com  » Cricket » We Indians changed our colours, just for the day!

We Indians changed our colours, just for the day!

March 30, 2015 11:06 IST

'Amazingly, along with the yellow army, there was still a huge number of desis, who had flown in from various parts of the world.'

'No, we didn't sell our tickets -- we just changed our colours, for the day,' says Swapna Mitter, who was at the World Cup Final.

Australia and New Zealand supporters at MCG

Image: Indian supporters before the start of the World Cup Final. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters.

This time there was no mistaking which country we were in and who was playing the cricket World Cup Final. The yellow army was everywhere -- at stores, hotels, bus stops, coffee shops. And amazingly, along with them there was still a huge number of desis, who had flown in from various parts of the world.

No, we didn't sell our tickets -- we just changed our colours, for the day.

For most of the 'neutral' supporters, that colour was black, to show allegiance to the Kiwis. Perhaps we didn't want Australia to win the fifth time, or may be we wanted New Zealand to lift the Cup just once. But I suspect the primary reason was we really wanted someone to do the Aussies what they did to us.

The neighbours were there too in large numbers sporting black caps and painted faces, waving their national flag. A much quieter lot than the blue brigade in Sydney, but equally hopeful and confident.

As we made our way to the cricket ground, I heard a little boy ask his mother, "But mom, they have come from another country, will they be able to find the MCG?"

I couldn't help but smile at his innocent query -- when the two friendly neighbours were gearing up for their biggest battle his concern was whether the opponent's fans would find their way in to the stadium!

The MCG looked very different from the SCG. Much bigger, more muted. There were a couple of bands with men in glittery yellow and green jackets, playing saxophones, posing for pictures with the attendees.

There were booths where women did face-painting and you could ask them to draw anything, even Indian colours and they would smilingly oblige. Everything well planned, but I definitely missed the impromptu dances, the loud singing, the innovative posters that the men in blue inevitably inspire.

There were still quite a few in India t-shirts and caps though. And a smattering of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan shirts too. Clearly, people from the Subcontinent were not going to let go of their last chance to wear official merchandise just because their teams didn't make it to the Final.

We also spotted an Aussie fan wearing a yellow t-shirt with the words 'RIP PH' -- Phil Hughes was not just on Michael Clarke's mind, he continues to live in everyone's.

Such an incredibly hot day it was at the MCG and the authorities recognised that. Along with vendors selling ice-creams and cold drinks, there were young guys spraying us with water and distributing tubes of sunscreen from time to time, both much-needed.

The sun continued to shine right through for those in yellow, bringing to an end another successful campaign at the World Cup.

The customary victory lap later, it was time for the prizes to be distributed. The little man from India, Sachin Tendulkar, still drew among the loudest cheers. It was a record attendance at the MCG we were told, with over 92,000 spectators having attended the Final.

A record achieved, no doubt, because of the large presence of Indians who had come to see their boys play.

A long time ago, the only other World Cup final I watched also featured Australia. They played England that time (at the Eden Gardens, in 1987) when the whole stadium supported them. Today the support was split, but the outcome the same. The regret was also the same, with India losing both times in the semis.

On a day when my adoptive country of Singapore was in mourning, where the heavens opened up during Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last passage, it was a bright sunny day in Melbourne where the nation erupted in celebration.

But there's always the future to look forward to...

Swapna Mitter is a former features editor at Rediff.com

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Swapna Mitter, for REDIFF.COM in Melbourne