Ind vs Eng second Test | Barmy Army finds voice in Chennai

A pocket of support for England amid the returning home fans at Chepauk.

The opening day of the second Test marked the return of fans at a stadium in India for the first time in over a year.

While India had played before a crowd in Australia, for England it was the first time in front of an audience in over a year.

However, amid a largely partisan crowd, there was a pocket of support for the visitors, with a contingent of six from the Barmy Army — the England cricket team’s official fan club — present at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

Joe Phelan, an expat from England living in Delhi, said, “I am part of the Barmy Army and the six of us are the Barmy Army for this Test match, making as much noise as possible. There are four from England, one Australian and one American.”

First visit

For Matthew Christensen, an American engineer from Delhi, it is his first visit to a cricket match and he had read up on the game before shifting to India. “When I moved, learning cricket was easier than learning Hindi for me as it is the language of the country to connect with the people here.”

In Sri Lanka, a Barmy Army fan named Rob Lewis became a sensation as the lone English supporter atop the Galle Fort. His efforts were appreciated by the English players with skipper Joe Root even talking to him over the phone from the ground.

Though Lewis couldn’t make it here, the six Barmy Army fans have his image from on top of the fort on their t-shirts.

Phelan said, “We would love to meet the England players, but with the COVID protocols, it is hard to do so. The players know we are here and we were able to get the attention of Moeen Ali and Jack Leach today. People are braving cold weather in England and a hard lockdown. They are seeing the sunshine in India and hoping that numbers can come down and some normalcy can return.”

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