Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report
'Bharat Army' scores at Centurion
Our Correspondent in Centurion |
March 03, 2003 17:06 IST
"Aaj Hindustan wakaei accha khel rahi hai (India is really playing well today)," said a Pakistani supporter.
Only, this wasn't just any fan, he was 'Chacha' Pakistan.
'Chacha' is the Percy Abeysekhara of Pakistan. He follows the team whereever it goes, waving the familiar green and white flag, and the Pakistan Cricket Board picks up his travel bills.
Your reporter was seated just behind 'Chacha' Pakistan as Sachin Tendulkar went ballistic on Saturday at SuperSport Park.
As India marched towards victory in a calm and composed manner, silence quickly enveloped the Pakistan camp. But the chants from the Indian brigade grew louder with every four.
Those chants came from the Ram Army, the Bharat Army, and just plain fans who do not belong to any particular army but are as passionate about cricket as any soldier who belongs to the army.
The kind of support that India now gets all over the world is amazing and the excitement and adulation that Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and the other members of the team inspire also is worthy of mention.
The Bharat Army is modelled on the lines of the Barmy Army, a group of English fans that follows the England team around the world and have earned a legendary status.
It was founded by Shailen Tank along with Rakesh Patel, Harvinder Mann and Sukhwinder Nijjar during the last World Cup in England in 1999. They then travelled to the West Indies where they unveiled a 25ft flag with the letters 'Bharat Barmy Army' written over it. The same flag was used during the NatWest series between England, India and Sri Lanka in 2001, and the name stuck.
Given the fact that cricket is the biggest sport in India, the reach and potential this army has is nothing short of mind-blowing. People from all walks of life are free to join it. The rules and conditions for admittance are simple: "You have to be passionate about the game and love the Indian team. The ability to dance or be a cheerleader is an added plus point," said Shailen.
The Armymen believe in clean fun. You will not see them swearing at the players or at supporters of the other team, nor will you find them slipping away from the game for a drink; they are as passionate as their Indian-born colleagues in that respect.
The four Bharat Army founders members were there at Durban when Ashish Nehra took out England, and were hard to miss with their hair dyed orange, white and green.
"Na Na Na, Nasser is an Indian," they chanted from the Kingsmead boundary as they reminded the England skipper of his Madras roots.
"We have a web-site, www.bharatarmy.com, and have 4,000 registered members now," Shailen said. "There are eight separate groups in South Africa -- including ones from Dubai, Northern Ireland, Norway, Canada, Australia and India."
At Centurion, these guys got down to doing what they are best at; laughing, singing, dancing and shouting themselves hoarse.
"Let's all do the Bhangra," they sang after every good shot. With Sachin Tendulkar playing a marvellous innings, they sure were a tired but elated lot by the end of the day.