It all started when Pakistan visited India for a five-match ODI series and a three-match test series in November and December of 2007. The last ODI match was supposed to take place in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan which was four hours by car from Delhi. Nevertheless, I requested my parents to go to Jaipur and see that Cricket match. Luckily, my father had asked one of his batchmates from his Indian Railways job to help us to arrange the tickets for this particular match.
After the tickets for the match were arranged, we packed our bags for a day in Jaipur to watch an exciting India-Pakistan cricket match at the Sawai Man Singh stadium in the harsh, chilly winter of November 2007. I and my family started our journey in a foggy early morning in Delhi so we could reach Jaipur on time. For an individual like myself, it was a dream come true to watch a cricket match in person for the first time. The best part about this was my family was there which made me happier.
We were quite lucky to reach Jaipur by afternoon as the car ride from Delhi took us four hours. Before going to the stadium, we went to my father’s batchment’s residence so we could take a break before we went to watch the match. We had lunch since we were extremely hungry. In my opinion, both I and my family were speechless and excited to watch this match. An India-Pakistan match is so big and produces energy in cricket followers. It brings along everyone from these two countries to catch this match in person or on television. I was looking forward to this so I could have the one of the finest moments in my life and the rest is history.
On the beautiful sunny afternoon, I and my family were in the cue for entering the stadium. We were excited with each minute we waited before entering the stadium. My parents paid the money for the tickets, and we immediately went to sit on the stands of the stadium. The crowd had painted their faces with various colors in support for both teams, but I also discovered few people were wearing the team-India jersey. It made me more excited towards this match. In the end, we bought a few snacks and cold drinks from the stadium so we could enjoy watching the match with snacks and drinks.
When we took the seats in the stadium, we came to know that Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first. With this news, we had a few mixed reactions about this because we didn’t even know what score the Pakistanis would make or how these Indian bowlers would do to restrict these batsmen to score a mammoth total against them. In this particular match, Praveen Kumar was making his ODI debut for India, and we were looking forward to how he could perform for the team in this match. Hence, for the Pakistanis, Shaid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Kamran Akmal, and Younis Khan were rested for this match due to the test series which was starting in Delhi after this one-day series and players like Fawad Alam and Sarfraz Ahmed replaced them for this match. As far as the Indians were concerned, players like Sourav Gangually, R. P. Singh, and Zaheer Khan were rested for this match because of the test series following the ODI match.
The Pakistan team started the match in the most graceful manner as the openers Salman Butt and Imran Nazir made a 68 run opening partnership in ten overs which helped them for the first half of the match. Unfortunately, they started losing wickets in quick succession as they were 70/3 by the time Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Mallik had an excellent partnership where they brought their team into a commanding position so they could go towards a total towards 300 plus for their team. Both these players scored 87 and 63 respectively before attacking batsmen like Misbah-Ul-Haq and Fawad Alam could score more runs towards 300 run mark prior to the end of their innings. In the end, they finished at 306/6 in their fifty overs. In my opinion, their batting was extraordinary, and the Indian bowlers tried their best to restrict the Pakistani batsmen to score as many runs they were required to score. By that, I was quite hopeful the Indian batting department would not leave any stone unturned in chasing this target to win the match.
The Indian innings had started in the shakiest manner since they lost early wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. But we had the legendary cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, and he was giving us hope to win this match along with Virender Sehwag. But when India lost wickets of these two batsmen in a jiffy, we did not have any idea of what would happen to them if they were willing to win the match. Luckily, youngsters like Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Sings boosted our hopes for team India so we again had the feeling of winning a miraculous match from their partnership, and they made 52 and 50 respectively. By the time Rohit Sharma got out from the bowling off Shoaib Mallik, our faith and confidence for them skyrocketed. M. S. Dhoni stitched a partnership with Yuvraj Sings. Unfortunately, all our hopes were in vain by the time when Singh got out in the controversial manner. And from there, India’s downfall was in the way as far this match was concerned.
On the other hand, other batsmen like Irfan Pathan, Murli Kartik, and Sreesanth tried their best to reach towards the target of 307. Sadly, they weren’t able to match the level of the batting the Pakistanis did in their innings, and they were all out for 273. I believe the Pakistani bowling department did a wonderful job in winning this match. Bowlers like Sohail Tanvir and others did a brilliant job in not allowing the Indian batsmen to score run for the run chase to win the match. At the same time, I was also impressed with how the Indian batsmen were diligent and committed to winning this match for their team. Overall, this was a great match where these two teams literally hunted to win the ODI series and this particular match.
After the match, I was a little agitated on how India was not able to win. Then, later I realized that in a team sport like this there is no winner or loser to determine a result for a game; the only thing that matters is if the two teams played in good spirits and had sportsmanship when they were playing. After this, I and my family went out for a meal with my father’s batchmate’s family. We had a great time with them as we discussed the match and how well these two teams played and what India can work on prior to their next series against Australia in late 2007 and the early half of 2008. After having our meal, we left for Delhi on the same night as we were scheduled to be back for school and work after our fun day.
In the end, I would like to say that I had one of the finest days of my life. I never imagined watching a cricket match at a stadium live for the first time especially an India-Pakistan match which is a big deal for every cricket fan. At the same time, I also had the opportunity to see Bollywood actors like Shahrukh Khan present in the stadium as he was there to promote his film. Apart from that, I also had the opportunity to see a few players from the stands who were fielding on the edge of the boundary line, and I tried talking to them and asked them for autographs, but they rejected as they were busy concentrating on playing the match. I will never forget the fact that I went to the stadium to see an India-Pakistan ODI match with some 25,000 people who paid thousands of rupees to watch this match, and we all had a blast.
In conclusion, I hope that people can relate to this even though nobody was able to watch a cricket match in the stadiums for the last two years due to COVID. I also hope that this brings lots of joy to the cricket lovers who can relate to my story.