Spectator Sports

Cricket — Although hockey is India’s official national sport, cricket is by far the best-loved game, and even watching a group of schoolboys practicing in a field is an experience unto itself. Mumbaikars play the game with an enthusiasm that’s quite intoxicating — almost as if it provides some measure of relief from the hardships of daily life. In cricket-crazy India, the stars of the game are worshipped as keenly as film stars and gods, and Indian spectators at international games have the ability to transform even the blandest match into an exciting event.

During the season (Oct-Mar), several matches are held each week at Wankhede Stadium (Churchgate), which is where Mumbai’s big national and international games are hosted. Tickets are sold by the Mumbai Cricket Association (tel. 022/2281-9910 or 022/2281-2714), but it’s worth asking your concierge to arrange good seats for you at a decent price (top-tier tickets can go for as much as $100 officially, and up to $300 on the black market). There’s no doubt that watching a cricket match in an Indian stadium with tens of thousands of fans is one of the more fascinating experiences to be had in India, but if crowds make you nervous, watch the World Cup, Sharjah Cup, or any major cricketing event live at a local bar or lounge, with a few dozen cricket-crazy Indians to provide the spectacle.

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