Soul stirring experience in Antigua at the ICC T20 World Cup

Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma vs Bangladesh
Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma vs Bangladesh (PC: Debasis Sen)

Ishaan Shahane and Debasis Sen in Antigua

The Antigua leg is done and dusted, and it has been a successful one for the Indian cricket team. With a comprehensive win over Bangladesh in the ICC T20 World Cup on Saturday, they seem to be hitting the right notes before the big game against Australia.

After the match, Debasis and I headed to the airport to capture visuals of the team exiting Antigua and to gauge the overall mood. After three long hours, we finally spotted the team. They were in a jolly mood, smiles and laughter all around. This perfectly summed up how their World Cup campaign has panned out so far, reflecting a sense of unity and confidence as they move forward in the World Cup.

To sum up the Antigua leg for both Debasis and me, it has been an enriching experience. For me, personally, this being my first international tour and a first visit to the Caribbean Islands, it has been fascinating, to say the least. Initially, there were concerns about the lack of facilities available, but overall, the work that needed to be completed here has been accomplished. Visiting the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the India vs. Bangladesh match was an electrifying experience. However, there was a moment of disappointment seeing the number of people in the stands. Being a Super 8 World Cup fixture, more fans were anticipated, but due to logistical issues, many could not make it. With more planning, these issues could have been mitigated, ensuring a fuller stadium.

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Team India vs Bangladesh
Team India vs Bangladesh (PC: Debasis Sen)

When we speak about cricket in the Caribbean, it is only fair to mention the rich history of West Indies cricket and the deep love for the sport that permeates throughout the region. The passion for cricket in the hearts of Caribbean people reminds me of the fervour this sport generates back in India. Whether you are in a taxi, supermarket, or just strolling down the street, you will find passionate cricket lovers everywhere. This is what keeps the sport in the Caribbean well and truly alive and burning. It is the heritage of cricket in this part of the world, preserved and cherished, that makes it so special and a part of it that I will take back.

Fascinated by the heritage of West Indies cricket, Debasis and I decided to visit the Antigua Recreation Ground. This historic venue is where Brian Lara set the record for the highest individual Test innings, scoring 375 in 1994 and then breaking his own record with 400 not out in 2004, both times against England. Although the facility is no longer used for cricket matches, being present where such monumental history was made was special for both of us. The icing on the cake for this entire Antigua trip has been the weather. Despite rain forecast, the weather gods were kind, blessing us with two good days. There was a little rain on the morning on the first day, but it quickly subsided, allowing us to enjoy our visit to this iconic cricketing landmark.

All in all, the Antigua leg has been a successful one. With the World Cup now heating up, it is going to be interesting to see which teams make it to the top four. The Indian finds itself in the correct zone and will want to go all the way.

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