Crowd presence the silver lining as dark rain clouds wash the second IND-SA T20I

S Sudarshanan
New Update
Crowd presence the silver lining as dark rain clouds wash the second IND-SA T20I

Most of the ground was covered due to a steady drizzle. © Women's CricZone

“The crowd was excellent but unfortunately, they didn’t cheer for us!”

These were Sune Luus’ words after the first T20I, when asked about the number of people who turned up for the game. The South African captain went on to say that the support for women’s cricket was overwhelming and hoped that the next four matches would also be a sell-out. For many young South Africa players touring India for the first time, it would have been quite an experience.

Thursday (September 26) was to be a rainy evening. So said the forecast. However, contrary to expectations, it was hot and humid in the afternoon and hopes of an uninterrupted match taking place had risen. Close to two hours before the start of the game, the entrance points to the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium were pretty crowded. Their enthusiasm of getting into the venue made them seemingly be oblivious to the weather that was slowly getting cloudy and dark.

By the time it was close to toss-time, the stand over the pavilion was full and the decibel levels were high. It then began drizzling, which soon become heavier. Even then there were few who were moving towards the exit. Patience was the key and the Suratis had it aplenty.

The first T20I saw a packed house. Apart from the lone stand, the temporary seating arrangements were also in use. Even on Thursday, the empty chairs were the ones which were directly in rain.

Eventually, the rain got worse and the second T20I was washed out. The Indian and South African players were confined to playing football and posing for pictures inside their dressing rooms. On an odd occasion when a player would make an appearance, the volume level at the venue would give it away.

“It could have been overwhelming for them. Luckily, they have got their experience and would know what to expect in the next four games,” Luus had said.

Till 8 PM IST - when the match was eventually called off, without even the toss - the crowd stay put, making noise and enjoying every moment of in the stadium. As a token of appreciation, once the match was abandoned, players from both sides walked out and thanked the crowd. It was an apt acknowledgement and display of gratitude to the spectators.

“Due to lack of mainstream cricket in smaller cities, there is more crowd in (places like Surat). It feels good to have such attendance, though it was on expected lines,” said Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s captain, after the first T20I. After all her team’s performances in the World T20 last year and India’s close loss in the finals of the Women’s World Cup in 2017 had spiked the interest levels in women’s cricket in the country.

Cricket is a wonderful sport. Apart from the numerous engaging battles between bat and ball, the crowd is another aspect that adds colour to it. One of the major factors behind taking cricket to such tier II cities is to increase interest and awareness in the game.

With the interest people in Surat have shown, the Board of Control for Cricket in India would be patting its back for the selection of the venue. And if the cricket we saw in the first T20I is anything to go by, we are in for a delightfully entertaining series.