T20 World Cup 2024 | It's carnival time in at Kensington

What a day it was, and there’s more to come.
Last Updated : 20 June 2024, 23:52 IST

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Barbados: Suresh Padaunkar and his family hadn’t taken a vacation in years. He said he couldn’t afford one for the longest time, but once his daughter - Samsi - made bank with a promotion at her first job as an IT consultant, the first thing she did was gift him and the family, all four of them, a trip. 

This 30-day trip, though, doubled up as an effort to embrace Suresh’s greatest passion: cricket. He recollects that he once went to an India-England game a few years ago in Mumbai, but for the most part, he’s on his couch in Pune, ‘shouting at the top of his voice’ to the annoyance of his wife - Meera, while the cricket is on.

Now, he’s at the Kensington Oval watching India play Afghanistan, beer in hand and his family still to get past security. “I didn’t want to miss the first ball,” he says.  

Before this, he was at the Nassau County International stadium for all of India’s league games. He got drenched in Miami and walked back to his accommodation from the abandoned game to hear his family say ‘We told you not to go’.

Then they flew out to the Caribbean to go to all of India’s upcoming venues but with the flights turning out to be more expensive than originally planned, he had to settle for Barbados. 

Suresh cuts repeated calls from his family until the first over is done and then bolts out to find them, an attempt to get his picture by now was futile. 

Many such wholesome, albeit sweat-riddled, scenes played out on a day which was more a carnival than a cricket match.

With most roads to the venue cordoned off, the crowd - not massive in number but hugely vociferous - ambled in while a DJ on the streets kept belting those Bajan hip-swinging numbers. It was not a fun walk, but the music had everyone swaying and smiling, even through the intense security checks. 

Once in, the smell of fried fish and chips, the sight of hot dogs on a rotisserie, and the idea of a cold ‘Banks’ or ‘Red Stripes’ (both beer brands) after that walk, had everyone running to the counters. While the guards at the gates were unusually stern for this part of the world, those walking the stadium set things right with their genial smiles and lovely accents.

Sure, the Oval is not a particularly big venue, with a smaller capacity than both the grounds in the United States of America, but it’s big in heart. Such a stark contrast to the makeshift metal monster in Long Island or quaint but not-so-equipped venue at the Central Broward Park County stadium in Miami.

This was all fun and games - brass bands, carnival groups, endless Bajan swag, Indians feeling at home, more jerk chicken whiffs in the air, beautiful people, lots of sun, and some of that fine ‘Mount Gay’ on ice. What a day it was, and there’s more to come. 

Published 20 June 2024, 23:52 IST

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