Dubai International Cricket Stadium in all its glory
The gates at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium open at 1.30pm for a 3.30pm start in the match between India and Hong Kong.There’s a bit of a crowd milling about, and a decent number in the stands. The empty seats look worse than they actually are because this is a big stadium, seating up to 25000.
Once the toss is done, though and news spreads that India are batting first, there’s a steady inflow. The number of blue India shirts in the stands steadily increases, tickets in the AED 45 and 75 categories still being available for the match.
As the sun sets – which is scorching enough in the stands to make one fan observe that a case could be made for the players to be sent back to the dressing-room on the basis of cruelty – the influx increases dramatically.
It is now that families with young children step out in Dubai, and it’s difficult to make an exception, even to watch India play.
The main beneficiaries of the conditions are the company selling chilled water in half-litre bottles and the ice cream stand that does brisk business. As with all things Dubai, however, the pricing of these commodities is a touch confusing.
While 120-ml of top-shelf praline or Belgian chocolate ice cream costs AED 10 (Rs 200) the small bottle of water goes for half that much. But then, in the heat, not everyone can survive on ice-cream alone!
When it’s time for the national anthems, a lovely quiet settles on the ground. The Bollywood numbers being belted out of the high-decibel boom-boxes go silent, the public address announcers stops his “jeetega bhai jeetega …” exhortations and without being told to fans in the stands take bums off seats and stand.
A good many take out their cellphones to try and capture the moment, but for Indians living in Dubai, mainly to earn a living, the first few strains of Jana Gana Mana are enough to set them off. Most tuck their phones back in and put hand to heart.
Check out the full diary and photos at CricketNext.com