Passion, patriotism, lots of people... and picky police

Security was tight for yesterday's match as half of India struggled to get inside a stadium designed for 28,000

Long before Sachin Tendulkar gave a public demonstration of the fallibility of gods, there were thousands of mere mortals outside the PCA ground here. Most of them were either policemen or soldiers.

Somewhere in the undergrowth were members of the Special Weapons and Tactics group (SWT), the crack unit of the Punjab, whose chief membership criterion appears to be a height of above 6ft. The job of the less elite, smaller units was to let people into the ground only at a pinch.

It used to be the case in India that things got done only after 10 people had stamped the same piece of paper in a different place. This has altered as the country has grown in efficiency with the burgeoning of the middle classes.

But the belief that a job is worth doing only if it is done at least three times still exists and has now extended to bag searching. Such was the perceived threat of violent interference in this match that it was impossible to get far on the approach to the ground without being instructed to reveal the contents of whatever receptacle was being carried.

It was a little much to be examined rigorously twice on the same trestle table, one chap having watched his colleague a full yard away empty the contents of the satchel and then insisting on doing the same after they had been re-packed.

The advice was to reach the ground no later than 10.30, four hours before the match was due to start. Most of the 28,000 ticket holders answered the call, as did what seemed as many again non-ticket holders. The only place to be in the environs of Chandigarh yesterday was the cricket ground and people were drawn there as they were to the alien spaceship in The Day the Earth Stood Still. There was nothing to see but other people, battered cars and tuk-tuks – the roads to within a mile around the ground were closed, but that did not stop them.

From some way out, before the Prime Ministers of both countries were presented to the teams in a spirit of reconciliation which perhaps should not be underestimated but will not either bring about a common accord between the nations, the atmosphere was electrifying.

But for all the passion and patriotism on show it was not quite like Pretoria 2003 or even Manchester 1999. Those were the last occasions the sides met in the World Cup and they stick in the memory because citizens of countries were there, side by side, almost in equal measure (also at the Manchester game the Old Trafford authorities memorably thought it was a wizard idea to offer pork pies as lunch to scores of Asian journalists). Here it was, more or less, India, India all the way.

The show, when it got underway at last, was Sachin's. For a man in whom millions have unfettered faith, he invited disbelief. He played as a man with feet of clay. It was as if the event had overwhelmed him. But the gods obviously look after their own and he was dropped four times. It really was unbelievable. The only surprise – the gods teasing us perhaps – was that Tendulkar was out 15 short of what would have been his 100th international hundred.

There was a note of deep irony about Tendulkar's innings. It is generally considered that the reason India refuse to countenance the umpire decision review system in their matches is because Tendulkar resists, having not had the rub of the green in the early experimental days. When he was on 23, the umpire Ian Gould gave him out lbw and it looked stone dead.

He reviewed and the hawkeye gizmo astonishingly showed the ball missing leg stump. This could not have been mere technology but another example of divine intervention on behalf of club members.

News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
video
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions