Kanpur Diary: Such enthusiasm for Sachin!

Sachin Tendulkar is among the former India skippers felicitated by the BCCI ahead of India’s 500th Test match. When his name is called out, the crowd applauds and chants the famous chant, "Sachin, Sachin".

The Uttar Pradesh Governor, Ram Naik, presents a memento to Sachin Tendulkar on the occasion of India's 500th Test match at Green Park in Kanpur on September 22. The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association Secretary, Rajeev Shukla, is at extreme left, while the BCCI President, Anurag Thakur, is in the centre.   -  PTI

The honking of cars, haze and banners of Rajeev Shukla greet the writer as he enters Kanpur. Shukla, the secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association, was born here. The banners thank him for bringing home the 500th Test.

There are also a few banners welcoming Mohammad Azharuddin. Thirty-one years ago, Azharuddin scored his third hundred in his third Test here. The BCCI decides to invite the former captain for India’s 500th Test.

SACHIN, THE CYNOSURE

As India and New Zealand line up for the Test, the ‘Little Master’ makes his appearance at the stadium.

He is among the former India skippers felicitated by the BCCI ahead of the match. When his name is called out, the crowd applauds and chants the famous chant, “Sachin, Sachin”.

MISSING THE FUN OF BEING A FAN

Being a sports journalist brings with it some perks. A sports journalist gets to go places, watch matches and talk to famous sportspersons. And he is paid for doing all this.

However, sometimes a sports journalist misses the fun of being a fan, for he is always analysing a player’s game; not cheering him/her. It is not a recreation for him anymore; it is a job. Slouched in his chair, he is trying to make sense of the play with several windows of stats opened on his computer. The job of analysing, at times, dilutes the enjoyment.

WILL KANPUR LOSE OUT TO LUCKNOW?

The crowd at Green Park swells on the third day. The stadium brings back reminiscences of Indian cricket in the 1990s when people watched the game from shamiana-covered stands and galleries without roofs. The writer with his dubious Hindi chats with a fan from the adjacent stand.

Kanhaiya, 21, is happy to see cricket back in Kanpur. “We love Test cricket. We rarely get to see matches despite having a big stadium,” he says. “Yeah, sometimes it’s difficult to sit through, with the batsmen going ‘tuk, tuk’ throughout the day. But you get to see them live.”

Kanhaiya watches the second day’s play that is cut short by rain. Sitting in the open stand, he bears the brunt of the sunshine before he is drenched by the rain in the evening. The one-hour downpour washes away 34 overs of play because the ground staff could not figure how to clear the covers without spilling the rainwater onto the field.

A senior journalist tells the writer that the venue will lose its importance once the stadium in Lucknow is completed. “For the first time, Ranji Trophy in Uttar Pradesh will be played in Lucknow. Also, they are planning to speak to Suresh Raina about playing Gujarat Lions’ games there,” he says.

The writer enthusiastically tries to contact people who could shed some light on the matter, but the senior journalist says, “Nobody will speak to you regarding this.”

He thus nips a story idea in the bud.