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Meet Debdeep Panigrahi, a cricket 'super-fan'

Debdeep Panigrahi at Sydney Cricket Ground in November 2018 for India vs Australia 3rd T20. Source: Supplied by Debadeep Panigahi

Debdeep Panigrahi is an avid-cricket fan. His story is full of drama and passion. He might easily be called a super-fan, but he is not alone.

Highlights:

  • The Indian cricket team is playing against Australia which is a dream come true for many Indian fans.
  • Tickets have already been sold out and many have bought tickets on social media at a higher price.
  • This is the story of Debdeep Panigrahi, an avid cricket fan who is going to watch most of the matches of the series.

Debdeep Panigrahi tried to run away from his home when he was six years old.

“I wanted to be a cricketer,” he says, smiling.

“My home was in a small town called Farakka in West Bengal. I thought I would go to a bigger city for cricketing facilities. However, my parents found out about my plan and caught me.”

Listen to Debdeep Panigarhi's story in his own words:

 

Meet Debdeep Panigrahi, a cricket 'super-fan'
00:00 00:00

He may not have become a cricketer, but he has become a 'super-fan'.

“Fan comes from the word fanatic, which means you can do whatever to watch your favourite game or anything that you like. That’s like madness,” he says explaining why he was ready to buy India-Australia cricket match tickets at a higher price.

Debdeep Panigrahi at Gabba in November 2018 for India vs Australia 1st T20.
Debdeep Panigrahi at Gabba in November 2018 for India vs Australia 1st T20.
Supplied by Debadeep Panigahi

Debdeep Panigrahi is an avid cricket fan.

He says he can do anything to watch a match. He has booked tickets for every match between India, and Australia except one in Canberra. He could not book a ticket in time. So he tried to buy tickets from people who were selling them on social media or other sites.

“There was no cricket for so long. Last time we watched a match was in 2018-19 when India visited Australia. How can we miss any match!”

Before The T20 World Cup was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Panigrahi had booked tickets for all the matches.

“Yes, I had booked hotels and air tickets too for Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane. I was going to watch every match. But I had to cancel all of them as the T20 World Cup was cancelled,” he says.

Debdeep Panigrahi in Nagpur in 2007 for India vs WI 1st ODI
Debdeep Panigrahi in Nagpur in 2007 for India vs WI 1st ODI
Supplied by Debadeep Panigahi

He used to travel across India to watch cricket matches.

The 35-year-old started watching cricket in the 1990s when Sachin Tendulkar - arguably the best player in contemporary cricket - was at the top of his game.

“Sachin Tendulkar!” - his name evokes nostalgia, and Debdeep’s voice melts.

“You know, I was in Europe when Sachin played his last match. I woke up in the night, watched him retiring and cried for half an hour,” he says with complete seriousness.

Debdeep Panigrahi comes from West Bengal, from the state of Sourabh Ganguly, but for him, Sachin is the best.

“I know, West Bengal is the only state where some other player is more popular than Sachin. But, you have to agree that the 1990s was all about Sachin.

Tickets from India vs Pakistan - 3rd ODI - Jan 2013
Tickets from India vs Pakistan - 3rd ODI - Jan 2013
Supplied by Debadeep Panigahi

"Sachin gets out, and you switch your TV off. Because at that time, Sachin was the team. He could win the match alone. And he failed the perform; the whole team would collapse.”

An Australian citizen, Debdeep Panigrahi hopes his children will play for Australia someday.

But which team does he support now as an Australian citizen?

“India,” he says convincingly, “I cannot support any other team ever.”

Debdeep Panigrahi will be present in every match in Sydney cheering for his team. However, he would just be one of many thousands in the stadium with similar stories across the cricketing nation in India.

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