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Monday, March 16, 2015

the great Indian fan ~ following Cricketers (Sachin Tendulkar) the way !!!

In this World Cup 2015 co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, the Quarter finals line-up has been drawn.  In the 2nd QF India play Bangladesh at Melbourne on 19th March @ @09:00 IST.  Winning here, India will play the next match at Sydney and the Finals is slated to be held at Melbourne on 29th March. 

They say that playing in front of the home crowd and the crowd support always buoys the team.  On Feb 22, when India played South Africa at a neutral venue i.e., Melbourne – they were in large numbers.  In full capacity, the MCG can easily host nearly a hundred thousand spectators. The official number was 86,876 - a good 2000 more than what turned out when Australia hosted England on February 14. Among those in attendance on that  wonderful Sunday as India sent South Africa on a hiding to nothing, were Sachin Tendulkar, one of the brand ambassadors of the World Cup, and Anil Kumble, who was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame at the break between innings.  With those elite audience, the attendance was close to 87,000.  Let's give the benefit of the doubt, say there were 20,000 South African fans, but to get the support of over 50,000 people in Australia, it just adds to the atmosphere that gets created," said Dhoni - by way of thanksgiving to the supporters. "It starts from the warm up, and after the national anthem, it just multiplies. It's always good to play in front of good support, and the kind of support we are talking about.

There are organised groups – Barmy Army for example – the English cricket fans  that arranges touring parties for some of its members to follow the English cricket team on overseas tours. The group, then less organised, was given its name by the Australian media during the 1994 - 1995 Test series in Australia, reportedly for the fans' audacity in travelling to Australia in the near-certain knowledge that their team would lose, and the fact that they kept on chanting even when England were losing quite badly.  There are mad Indian fans, yet there has not been any organised body of fans nor fans given any special treatment.  Sri Lanka's Percy Abeysekera, Pakistan's Bashir Chaacha, readily come to mind ~ then there is one person who reportedly parks his bicycle at Sourav Ganguly’s house; and gets his match tickets from Sachin Tendulkar.

It is the painted man that we see on our television screens – it is Sudhir Kumar Gautam, for whom  life revolves around cricket and cricketers. His face and body painted in tri-colour, the conch to announce the arrival of the team and trigger a wave of frenzied support in the stands, this simple man from Muzaffarpur is now a familiar sight to Indian cricket viewers.  He has travelled far and wide within the Country and following the Team overseas too… though he has no source of income, he has been in the stands everywhere!

Sudhir Gautam, the instantly recognisable Indian superfan, blowing conch and waving the tri-colour could even hold aloft the World Cup in 2011 with the great Sachin Tendulkar standing next to him – and that appeared in almost all newspapers.  They also state that he quit three jobs to pursue the life he lives ! – when he became eligible for gratuity, he quit using that money to get a passport for travelling  abroad with the Indian team.  "In my childhood, I only watched cricket for Sachin Sir," says Sudhir, always referring to his idol thus, not taking the second name once. " In 2003, he left home in a cycle travelled hundreds of kilometres and met Sachin.   There was a time when Sudhir's family wished he would get married, but he would not consent. "I have no source of income, I have given my life to cricket, nothing else matters," saids Sudhir. 

Muzaffarpur,  is the city from where he hails ~ not so rightly, he has kept away from his parents and family supporting Indian Cricket [read Sachin] … he is there, downunder – this time trip sponsored.   Recently, he was in news as he was caught by Customs in New Zealand.  Reports stated that New Zealand Customs officials stopped him  because he was carrying bottles which had paint in them. According to New Zealand immigration rules, carrying liquids that are made up of organic substances is banned.  Sudhir cannot do without them as he paints his body with the Indian tricolour.  The officials at the Auckland airport reportedly asked him to pay a fine of around Rs. 65,000. He was a worried man as he did not have that much money with him.

According to  reports, he pleaded with the officials stating he did not have enough money.  The officials said they understood all that, but rules were rules and they were meant to be followed.  Then, the die-hard fan realised that he had a letter from Sachin Tendulkar, which had helped him get an Australian visa for the 2015 World Cup. He showed the same to the Customs officials and was allowed to go without paying a fine.  The Sachin letter worked magic in New Zealand too.   At Perth, WACA, the stadium staff in Perth were unimpressed by the flagpole which he was carrying as it was extendable to a length of two metres.

That might make an interesting read ~ I am an avid follower of the game – but somehow, I  do not feel  approving of the ways of Sudhir Gautam !; does anybody care for that !!!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Mar 2015.

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