Saturday, 26 November 2011



Wankhede! After Lord's this is the ground where we can say that India's dream was won. Ever since 2nd April, 2011, this ground has been considered as holy ground by all Indian cricket fanatics. I have been to Wankhede many times before, I was there when Mumbai welcomed the 2007 T20 World Cup winning team home, I was there for a number of IPL matches, but I had never been there for a Test match. Finally I got the opportunity to step into the illustrious stadium and experience firsthand the famed “Wankhede Experience” when India is playing.

I had only one day off and I hoped against hope that I will get to see India's batting. It was important because I had never seen my favorites Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman bat and also because somewhere I knew that this could very well be the last time Mumbai sees the legends of India's middle order, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman bat together in a Test. And who would not want to see a Virender Sehwag raring to go with Gautam Gambhir on this bowler's graveyard of a pitch? Also there was the golden opportunity of witnessing history as Sachin Tendulkar could, and almost did, score that much awaited 100th 100 in front of his beloved home crowd at a stadium he owns! With high expectations and higher excitement, I was at Wankhede, finally. And after spending a good seven hours there I came back enlightened.


I was delighted to see the long lines, the crowd, the buzz in and around Churchgate Station. Any one seeing that could not question the mortality of Test cricket, you could feel that Test cricket was alive and throbbing at the stadium. I read that this was this crowd was the highest turnout of the series and I was proud to be a part of those 15,000 strong supporters. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a sizeable number of women, elders and even children, who had come to the stadium. A lot of offices must have been empty as fans thronged to Wankhede especially toward the second half of the day. It was heartening to see a huge number of diverse Mumbaikars cheering as one for India.


Undisputedly the best bit of my experience was the stadium atmosphere. Just the sheer energy, the enthusiasm that you could feel sitting in the stands was enough to get your adrenaline high. The atmosphere was unbelievable, there were hordes of people screaming together, a tricolor flowing in almost every block. I was sitting in the topmost tier of the North Stand and it was then that I realized why everybody calls the North Stand the best place to watch a match at Wankhede. There was a group of fans, all dressed in the Indian team blues that came up with chants that got the crowd on their feet. Listening to some of their rhymes, my friend commented that these guys could easily become copy writers for ad campaigns! Sample this – “Sab ke muh main chewing gum hain, Sachin humaara Singham hain!” But the love was not only reserved for Mumbai’s favorite son, chants such as “India ka Wall Kaun – Dravid, Dravid” and “VVS” were also screamed at the top of their voices. Of course there were some chants that made absolutely made no sense, but the fervor with which they were cried out was enough for people to join in. The rhythmic beating of water bottles on the railing to the tune of lezim, the synchronized clapping, the timely Mexican waves, everything added on to the cricket frenzy. Indeed, there is nothing like watching a match from the North Stand of the Wankhede Stadium!


However even the Wankhede is not without its blemishes. One of the most depressing things to see was the blatant disregard of certain fans for the other 10 players in the team, with them being concerned only and only about Sachin Tendulkar. I’m taking away nothing from the Master, Blaster, but is he more important than the rest 10 people in the team put together? There were factions of the crowd that actually cheered the fall of Sehwag and Gambhir’s wickets! I am sure even Sachin would be disappointed to see this boorish behavior of these people who call himself his devotees.
Secondly, as a woman living in Mumbai, I had one of my ugliest experiences there. I was extremely disappointed to learn that such passionate cricket fans behave like cheap chauvinists. There is no place for sexists in sport, your gender does not give you the monopoly of watching sport from the stadium or otherwise. There were a certain section of fans who thought harassing a woman at the stadium is good time pass. Comments such as “Ladies log match dekhne kyun aate hain, aata kuch nahi hain, chila rahe hain”, “Item baithi hain” and singing of songs based on the color of clothes a woman is wearing is ridiculous. And to be on the receiving end of such catcalling is never a good thing.

Overall, my experience at Wankhede was extremely enjoyable. Just sitting there in the stands watching our team bat inspired me to work harder to achieve my goal of becoming a sports journalist. It gave me renewed hope as I imagined myself watching a match like this as a part of my job. I hope one day I can actually live that dream. Till then, I promise you Wankhede, I will be there to watch every Test match you hold!


  1. Hi, nice post. It was good to see people coming in, Sachin Tendulkar or not especially after seeing an empty Eden Gardens.

    I love North Stand, but it's not as fun as it used to be, especially with that roof still incomplete. MCA's damn stupid if they think people don't mind sitting in the blazing sun over there.
    And sorry to hear about the ugly bit, it's something North Stand is notorious for, no holds barred boorishness. Definitely the only stand in India that's ever booed Sachin Tendulkar.

  2. Good un.. pretty much summed up the atmosphere .. However I am lil disappointed with facilities like Food and water compared to prev years ('06 n before) and other grounds like B'lore, Nagpur

    And just on the above comment that 'SRT was booed at this ground' is actually not true. The crowd was booing the Barmy army who were celebrating the wkt and the news hungry press thought otherwise.

  3. Nice one, Ms. Zenia. Nice to know of your experience in Wankhede. Never been to any stadium before. As I am from Chennai, I can go to a match at the MAC stadium. Chepauk has not had a test in days....but hopefully it will return next year and I can go there for the first time. I have a dream to see Sachin, Dravid and VVS together in one test match, but I am not sure whether that will come true. There is not much chance as they are nearing the end of their careers. About that part about the ladies being catcalled, fully agree with your sentiments being a girl myself. There is no such thing such as discrimination in sport. Hope you become an excellent sports journalist :)

  4. Hey Ms. Zenia. i was in the same stand as you and am from the group of blue tshirt guys shouting all the chants. this article was great to read. also that man who was passing those comments was really stupid. and there is no room for such discrimination in sport. He must read this article so that he knows that he knows so little about cricket. Men, women , children all follow the game like a religion. its stupid to pass any comments on that

  5. Hey Zenia,

    You were lucky that you came on the 3rd day.It was a cracking atmosphere ! I dont want to sound jingoistic or regionalistic but along with Bay 13 of MCG, Wankhede's North Stand is one of the noisiest cricket stands in the Cricketing World :)

    Its terrible to read about the cat calling. There is no place for this kind of behaviour in any civilised society.Encourage females to report such ppl to the authorities. Thats the best way to stop this in the longer run.

    N reacting to the first comment on ur blog let me clear one of the most talked about misconceptions in cricket " SRT was never booed at Wankhede. He got out and the Barmy Army cheered that Wicket, the crowd booed the Barmy Army, our stupid Indian media thought they booed sachin.It just made a big front page news on Times of India and the other media channels jumped on that. No one knows who heard that, some ppl in media said it was Garware, some say North Stand, Some say Vithal devecha. All this is crap . Anyone who has watched a match in Mumbai will know that Sachin is worshipped like God and that can never happen"

    Overall, North Stand is an extraordinary place to watch cricket. Along with the atmosphere you also get an awwsome straight view which ppl sometime take it for granted :)N yeah, the most knowledgeable cricket fans in Mumbai skip the IPL and turn up only when India is playing. Only in season 1, the regulars turned up for IPL matches at Wankhede.

    It was nice meeting ya.Hope to see you at Wankhede again.

    Proud member of that group wearing Team India's Blue Jersey :)

  6. Ok.. ok.. got your point, North Stand booed supporters of the opposing team who were celebrating a prime wicket, they didn't boo Sachin.

    I didn't doubt it though because I was at North Stand next day and man, anything goes. There was the catcalling that Zenia wrote about, I joined in too, it was fun then but not very proud of it now, wouldn't do it again and the chanting was INTENSE.
    Having said that, I'd be proud of North even if they actually did boo Sachin. Shit shots are shit shots, even Sachin knows that, it's not like we don't tell him how much we love him enough. Giving an honest opinion shouldn't be wrong.