Pradeep Patel has been waiting a long time for the Indian cricket team to play in Tauranga, and Saturday's ODI is their first ever game at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval.

In the past, Patel and his friends and family have travelled to other parts of New Zealand to watch India play.

"But now, they're playing in our home town. Honestly, it's really exciting. I think there's going to be a lot of blue supporters and I think Kiwis are looking for some sort of challenge," Patel said yesterday.

"It's going to be a different ball game."


The 54-year-old owns the Talk of India restaurant on Cameron Rd in central Tauranga.

He is a long-time cricket fan and used to play the game himself.

Born in central India, Patel moved to Rotorua in 1985 and then to Tauranga in 1997.

Patel said he knew of more than 40 friends and family members who were travelling to Tauranga from Rotorua and Auckland for the cricket.

"It's a big day for us, a big day out."

He said a lot of those people were staying for both games and were not going home until Tuesday.

Patel said he enjoyed watching games at Bay Oval because of the crowd's proximity to the players and action.

He expected plenty of Indian flags, and hopefully some drums and Indian music at the two ODIs this long Auckland Anniversary Weekend.


Patel said he would be at Saturday's game, but was a bit cagey when it came to who he would be supporting.

"Bit of both," he said with a laugh.

"Honestly, I don't take a side, as long as they give us a good 50 overs, a decent game."

He then added: "But when Australia beat the All Blacks, I get hurt."