As they say, India is a country where cricket is a religion. Indeed, we Indians love to both watch and play the game. Every other kid in India dreams of becoming a cricketer at least once in his life. From Kashmir to Tamil Nadu and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh- no part of India is complete without their favourite pastime. It is a dream of every fan to watch cricket matches live in stadium and watch their favourite heroes in action.
While fans of some states have been lucky enough to have the luxury of watching cricket matches regularly in a stadium, some other states don't seem to have had the same fortune. One such state is Assam.
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There are two cricket grounds in Guwahati which have been fortunate enough to host international games. The first one is the old Nehru Stadium and the other one is the newly built Barsapara Stadium (officially known as Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Stadium). The former one has a seating capacity of 15,000 while the latter one is a picturesque stadium that can hold over 40,000 people at the same time.
The last match that Nehru Stadium hosted was back in 2010 when India beat the Kiwis in an ODI match, thanks to a century by Virat Kohli who was still a youngster back then. After that match, cricket fans of Assam had to wait a long till 2017 when finally India were set to lock horns with Australia in a T20I match in October. This time Virat Kohli was playing as a captain, not as a youngster. The fans of Guwahati were very excited to experience what was going to be an exciting contest between two outstanding cricketing nations. The attendance at the stadium was a clear reflection of the excitement of the people of Assam as the match experienced a full-house with no seat left empty.
Disappointment turns to chaos
But it was a rare day India could not play to their best. The result dashed the hopes of the expectant crowd as India lost to Australia in a one-sided match. When you have waited so much for the big day and the result doesn't go your way, it is very natural to be disappointed. The people of Assam were no exception.
The distressed fans had to leave the stadium with gloomy faces. But in a regrettable incident, some of the frustrated fans expressed their emotions in a wrong manner. Some miscreants threw stones at the Australian team bus.
This news did not take too long to spread in the cricketing world, as Aaron Finch went on to tweet about the incident. It left a terrible impact on Guwahati among cricket fans across the globe. However, we should also not forget that some true cricket fans stood outside the Australian team hotel next day holding placards seeking apology for the misdeed.
Back to cricket
The cricket fans of Guwahati had a time of one year to forget the unfortunate day as an ODI match was organized against the West Indies in October 2018. Cricket fans of Guwahati were hopeful that this time they would not be disappointed and get to see an exhilarating game of cricket. They were again filled with an adrenaline rush and made sure not even a single seat remains unoccupied.
Thankfully, this time they were not let down as the hosts beat the visitors by a margin of 8 wickets in a high scoring match. The Guwahati crowd got to experience three centuries in the same game by Shimron Hetmyer, Rohit Sharma and Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Those expectant fans had eventually got something to remember for their lifetime. Many known celebrities of cricket praised Guwahati for the enthusiasm they showed during the match. So the fans were very optimistic of receiving international cricket more often. There was happiness in the air.
Back to biterness
It didn't last too long as they again had to face disappointment again. This time Team India were facing Sri Lanka in a T20I match in the winter month of January in 2020. As always, the fans of Assam came in huge numbers to support the blues despite the rain threat, which is quite rare in January in Assam. The heavens opened up for some time but not enough to abandon a whole cricket match. But a little bit of carelessness from the Assam Cricket Association proved to be very costly for the people of Assam. Some damp patches were left in the pitch where playing cricket was not possible. Eventually, the match had to be called off after a long wait. The efforts of ACA to dry the pitch did not impress the cricketing world. The ACA used hairdryers and vacuum cleaners to make the conditions favourable for a match which was a rare sight and did not go down well with the cricket fans. Again the crowd was massively disappointed as their patient wait despite the rain went in vain. Their hope of watching a thrilling T20 game with the likes of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Jaspreet Bumrah and Lasith Malinga playing the game was obliterated.
Just after some days of the abandoned match, the BCCI had some good news for the cricketing fans of Assam, as Guwahati was all set to host IPL matches for the first time. Guwahati was selected as the second home ground of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals. Two matches of the biggest T20 tournament of the world were to be played at the beautiful venue. But again there was bad news for the people of Assam.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus scare, there are speculations that IPL will either be played in closed stadiums or not be played at all. The chances of IPL being played in front of a jam-packed audience are very slim. So the long list of disappointments for the people of Assam continues again. The people of Assam were too excited to see the young local star Riyan Parag in action at the IPL, but it does not seem to be a reality at least in the 13th edition of IPL.
The cricket fans of Assam are not very lucky when it comes to their state team also. The Assam state team has been quite poor in recent years. They have performed inconsistently in the domestic circuit. Assam has also not been able to produce players who have represented India at the international level. However, the people of Assam are hopeful that the exciting young talent Riyan Parag will bring pride to Assam through his game.
Although there have been lots of ups and downs for the cricket fans of Assam, their enthusiasm and support for cricket never decreases. They have shown that they will keep supporting their national and state team in every condition.