Travel: 'Mohali was surreal'
Get Ahead reader Sulekha Limaye recounts her visit to the Mohali stadium, last week.
The India-Pakistan match has been touted as the match of the decade and will certainly be the last World Cup match for at least one of the two cricketing greats -- Sachin Tendulkar and Shohaib Akhtar.
Recently, Rediff reader Sulekha Limaye* happened to be in Chandigarh when she visited Mohali -- the ground where the historic match is being played.
She shares with us these photographs and her experience of stepping into a cricket stadium for the first time in her life.
My grandfather, uncle and brother are huge cricket fans. Back in the day when there was no television grandpa and my uncle would be glued to a radio set. My brother eventually joined in the madness.
I suppose I took some of my father's traits and never really followed cricket as manically like the other three men in the house. (My brother though became less interested after he saw in horror the crowd's reaction to the India-Sri Lanka World Cup match at the Eden Gardens in 1996)
However like most other Indian households, cricket was always part of our lives.
Like many others, Sulekha Limaye will be bleeding blue on March 30 as India takes on Pakistan at Mohali.
*Name changed on request
Image: The Mohali pitch
Photographs: Sulekha Limaye
'I could feel the energy at Mohali'
Despite living in Mumbai where we have Brabourne and Wankhede, I had never seen a cricket stadium from the inside.
Recently we were touring the North when we landed in Chandigarh. While returning from my father's colleague's home, our driver randomly pointed in a direction and informed us that the Mohali cricket stadium was just around the bend of the road.
On an impulse we decided to visit it least knowing that this would be the place where history would be written.
It was a little past sundown and the stadium wore a deserted look. There were a few guards and it seemed like there was a match to be played there a few days later.
Initially we weren't allowed to enter the ground but after some convincing, the guards decided to let us inside and offer a sneak peek.
There was no one in the stadium at the time but I could feel the energy -- I almost thought I could hear the cheering crowd and see Kapil Dev take his run up.
Image: Despite being empty, the energy at Mohali is palpable
'That evening at Mohali something changed in me'
The smell of the soil and the freshly cut outfield was intoxicating in its own way. There was a slight wind and the temperature was dropping. The pitch was covered, the scoreboard blank, waiting for a player to break a record and have the crowds go beserk.
The guards were kind enough to turn on one of the stadium light tower -- it looked surreal.
I stood there for a few moments, soaking in the atmosphere as the guard showed us the pavilion, the commentators box and the VIP enclave.
What I felt that evening can possibly never be put down in words.
I remember watching Iqbal, the movie about a deaf and mute cricketer who fights all odds to play for the Indian cricket team.
The last scene of the film shows him stepping out of the pavilion into the ground. I could never relate to his dream possibly because I also never related to the cricket craze.
That evening when I stood looking at the lush green Mohali stadium something changed.
Sometime during the evening I realised why people give up their lives to play the game.
Image: The Mohali scoreboard