For "Goddess" Smriti Mandhana, Chinese Fan Travels From Beijing To Hangzhou. Story Is Viral
It all happened when the fan deep-dived into YouTube's treasure of cricket videos and immediately got hooked to artistry of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Mandhana, three of his favourites.
Smriti Mandhana has her fair share of fans but Indian women's team's vice-captain must have felt chuffed when she saw a poster captioned 'Mandhana The Goddess" and being proudly held aloft by a Chinese young man. But then Jun Yu is possibly a rare species in the Mandarin land, who loves the thwack of the wood meeting the leather. And the love for cricket made him travel 1200 kms from Beijing to Hangzhou in order to watch her "Goddess" in action.
And it all happened when he deep-dived into YouTube's treasure of cricket videos and immediately got hooked to artistry of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Mandhana, three of his favourites.
"I saw Jasprit Bumrah's spell against Australia in the 2019 World Cup. I follow both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. They are the current greats of the game. Then, there is Suryakumar Yadav and Jaspreet Bumrah. Bumrah was extraordinary against Australia in the 2019 World Cup," Yu told when PTI caught up with him after the gold medal match.
So how did he learn about cricket? "Cricket lessons are given in my university in Beijing. So, I know a little bit of it," said Yu.
In fact, Yu gave some interesting insight about the cricket arena for the Games, which was actually a flower garden only some time back.
"There is not much cricket in China, very few cricket venues, very few people play it and many even don't know how it is played. Only Guangzhou, where cricket was played during the 2010 Asian Games has a permanent cricket stadium. It's because of historical reasons," he said.
Yu was one among the motley crowd who turned up at the Pingfeng cricket field at the Zhejiang University of Technology campus here. The venue is not a proper cricket stadium.
"I don't play cricket even if I want to. There is no proper ground also. Even this ground was a flower field before the Asian Games. It was converted into a cricket field for the Asian Games. A few warm-up games were played here before the Asian Games," he said.
While he revers Tendulkar, Yu's favourite cricketer is a New Zealander. "My favourite is Kane Williamson but Sachin Tendulkar is a legend of the game," Yu, who is doing his Masters Zoology in a University in Bejing, said.
But, Yu is not going to wait for the Indian men's team to play in the Asian Games when the competition begins on Wednesday.
"I spent 1000 Yuan (INR 11,400) to come here from Beijing. I have my studies and so I can't stay back for the men's tournament. I am returning to Beijing on Tuesday," he said.
A few of the Indians were also among the crowd, waving the national flag and cheering the Indian players.
One of them, Navneet Singh, who is from Delhi but currently residing in the outskirts of Hangzhou, had turned up with his friends to watch a cricket match for the first time in China.
"I have been here for the past one and half years, I am doing business in fabrics. This is the first time we have watched a cricket match in China. Cricket is not played here in China but we watched cricket on Indian channels."
"We have a club called Hangzhou Cricket Club. We do practice every Sunday and even take part in tournaments in Hangzhou as well as in Shanghai." Another Indian Manoj, hailing from Mumbai but now settled here with family since 2003, has a textile export business.
"Chinese people don't play cricket but you never know after the Asian Games, some of them may start doing that. We (Indians) have clubs here and we sometimes play inter-city tournaments. There is always a tournament in Shanghai. It was stopped due to COVID-19 pandemic and has not started yet after that." He said there is no cricket-specific stadium in Hangzhou, except for this one.
"We have to travel to Shaoxing which is 70 km from here and play there. But that is also a football stadium."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)