Sudhir Chaudhary, whose upper body and face is painted with the Indian tricolors of saffron, white and green and the name of his patron and favorite player, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, embodies the passion of the supporters. (AFP)
Singing, dancing and waving massive flags, India’s cricket fans were in party mode as their team achieved a milestone—their first-ever Test series win in Australia, Jan. 6. The two nations are fierce cricketing rivals, and India, the number one Test side, came to Australia looking to create history after seven decades of trying.
The self-described 12thman of the team, the vocal Indian fans were a constant presence at the four Tests, eager to witness what seemed like an impossible task in the past become a reality.
“I am very happy now that the time has come that after 71 years ‘Team India’ is going to win this Test trophy,” renowned India fan Sudhir Chaudhary told AFP in Hindi via a translator outside the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Chaudhary, 37, has followed the Indian cricket team for almost two decades, and made sure he was a visible presence at the SCG as he waved a national flag and blew a conch.
Long periods of rain at the Tests in Sydney and Melbourne did not deter them, with their singing and drumming bringing energy to the dismal sessions.
Cricket is hugely popular in India and getting on top of Australia on home soil has been a key goal after 11 previous attempts.
“It’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster,” British-based Rakesh Patel, the founder of the supporters group Bharat Army, told AFP.
“After two very tough series (against South Africa and England), we’re finally going to win a series away from home.
“Some of these guys here have traveled from all over the world to be here, to see India beat Australia for the first time.”
With India sewing up the series 2-1 after drawing the rain-sodden final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground and securing victories in Adelaide and Melbourne, the fans were planning a big bash.
“Our plan is to celebrate with the team. We are the 12thman of ‘Team India’, so we’ll be celebrating with them, and then the party will go on,” Rajul Sharma, who heads up the Australian branch of Bharat Army, told AFP.
“It’s hard to say when it’s going to stop… So yeah Sydney, watch out for Indian fans!” – AFP