India versus England or Bharat Army vs Barmy Army?

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban: Two "armies" will be in full cry when India and England meet in a crucial World Cup day-night match at the New Kingsmead Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. They are the Barmy Army, a group of English supporters, who follow the England team all over the world, and a funny take-off on the original - the Bharat Army comprising a group of Indian and Indian-origin supporters from the UK, the US, Phillipines, Fiji and other parts of the world.

While the Barmy Army has made a name for itself, the Bharat Army is slowly becoming popular and is already making news in Durban. It pitched up at the Kingsmead ground on Tuesday, where the Indians were practising, and outside their hotel on the beachfront where it gathered to sing, drum and make its presence felt. One of the founding members of the Bharat Army, Shailin Tank of England said the Bharat Army came into being during the NatWest series against England in the UK last year.

He said the Army's main motto was to provide as much as support as possible to the Indian team. "An India-England game is a bit like war on the terraces. We don't get physical or anything, but we do try to outdo them vocally," Tank said. The sole requisite for joining the Bharat Army is simply an abiding passion for the Indian team. "We want to provide a unique, innovative voice, committed and passionately in support of Indian cricket," Tank said. While the Bharat Army and the Barmy Army will have a go at each other, local supporters, who are fervently praying for an Indian victory today, will also chip in with their bit.

"India will have to win. There could be no other way. We cannot allow the former colonial power to still rule over us, even in cricket," said a local supporter of the Indian team. Another supporter, Christy Subrayen, said Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sewag, Mohammed Kaif and the other top players "must come to the party". "There are a lot of people here who support India and the Indian cricket team must shine today. We are not like supporters in India. We support irrespective of whether the team wins or loses," he said.

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