The thrill of watching an international match at the court – perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime memory to treasure.
We were one of the first few to enter the court complex. We chose our seats right at the centre – where we felt we had the best view of all the courts. Soon, all the seats were taken. The event – Badminton quarter-finals at the Commonwealth Games.
With five action – packed matches being held simultaneously, it was difficult to keep pace with all the matches. We kept track of the progress of the national players, by paying attention to the crowd’s cheers. The ‘aaah’s and the ‘oooh’s indicated that the mixed doubles pair were struggling. The cheers and chants increased, as Chetan Anand and P Kashyap successfully wrapped up their matches.
And then, the entrance of Saina Nehwal, marked by a huge applause. The huge home support defeated her opponent even before the match began. She struggled to return the serves, and looked rather miserable. The crowd, anticipating a good contest, felt short-changed, as Saina won, in a mere 10 minutes!
The women’s doubles game was the last match of the session. And the full capacity crowd turned its attention towards the duel. The disappointment of the lop-sided match played earlier on the court was forgotten, as Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa took on the formidable Malaysians. The rallies were long, and each stroke was returned with interest. When we thought the smash was good, the opposition put it back in play. The entire crowd shouted ‘huh!’, in unison, providing extra effort for the home girls, as they smashed the shuttle mercilessly, only to find it being smashed in return.
The entire crowd was up on its feet, the energy of over four thousand spectators, creating a heady, adrenaline packed atmosphere. Ultimately, the game was won by the hosts, to the immense joy of the fans, who gave a standing ovation for the victorious underdogs.
Borrowing from a famous advertisement:
Transportation : Rs 50
Lunch : Rs 150
Cost of ticket : Rs 200
The thrill of watching Indians excel in a proper International sport : Priceless!
Saina Nehwal returned home with a bronze medal in the on-going Olympics, &
P Kashyap reached the quarter-finals – the furthest by an Indian in the men’s event.