Until 1500 years ago, The Flavian Amphitheatre, known better as the Colosseum of Rome, used to be filled with raucous crowds who would throng the stands to witness a ruthless contest between gladiators and wild beasts. If a gladiator had earned the reputation of being a proven fighter, the crowd would beseech the emperor that the gladiator be liberated.
Cut to the second day of the second Test between India and Australia at Bengaluru, and the Chinnaswamy crowd, with their collective might, forced its emperor to bring one of their gladiators into action!
On a day when the scales danced from one end to the other, oscillating either side in a closely-matched contest, Team India made a remarkable comeback after being bundled for a meagre 189, their third sub-200 score in three innings.
In the Bengaluru crowd, they had an ebullient twelfth man, rallying behind Virat Kohli’s men ball after ball, session after session, the sweltering heat or the poor Indian batting notwithstanding. So much so that it forced Kohli into making a bowling change!
There was increased chatter around Ravindra Jadeja’s limited participation as a bowler in the innings, for the left-arm spinner was fairly under-bowled throughout the day. He bowled 21 complete overs, less than a half of what Ravichandran Ashwin hurled in the innings.
The day had entered its last session, and Ishant Sharma and Ashwin were bowling in tandem, both of whom had become jaded with their prolonged spells. Shaun Marsh had cemented himself in the middle, well-supported by a sedate Matthew Wade.
Just before the start of the 97th over of the Australian innings, the crowd instantly started chanting “We want Jaddu, we want Jaddu!” in unison, as if part of some preconceived plan to force Kohli into making the bowling change.
By then, Ashwin had reached his bowling mark, had deposited his cap to the umpire, and was all set to bowl his 40th over.
One might think it will, but the advice from the additional member didn’t go unnoticed. Suddenly, Kohli summoned Jadeja from his fielding spot, amidst a resounding applause from the public. Ashwin coolly claimed his cap back and went to field.
The Chinnaswamy mass had had their say. It was a big deal for each one in the stands. For just a small moment, they had lived their dream of making a captaincy decision for the national side.
As for Bengaluru, it upheld its status of being a city that knows its game, be it the mad flock of West Block Blues gunning for the BFC at the Kanteerava stadium, or the knowledgeable Test crowd that’ll seamlessly morph into T20 mode when RCB assembles next month.