The grass banks were heaving as one of the largest and loudest crowds yet at Bay Oval settled down for a day at the cricket.

Saturday's ODI between the Black Caps and India was a sell-out (9143 people being the official count) and walking around the Mount Maunganui ground under a scorching sun, everything felt bigger and busier than at any game hosted there before.

More food and drink vendors in the hospitality area, more corporate and VIP marquees, more waving flags, chanting fans, drums, music and colourful dress.

Of course, it was hard to look past the Indian fan-zone as the epicentre of entertainment, with its shouting, cheering, whistling and dancing devotees dressed in blue. There was almost no let-up from ball one to the final wicket - an admirable display of stamina and loyalty.


Anuj Shah from Mount Maunganui was in that zone with family and friends from Auckland.

"Lots of Indian people supporting this Indian team, so it's nice to be here," the 29-year-old said.

"The atmosphere is really, really good, the people are very supportive over here."

Auckland friends Lucky Pabla and Simar Bahl were also in the Indian fan-zone but were supporting different sides.

"Definitely Kiwi supporter. Born and brought up here, so Kiwi by heart, eh," Pabla said.

"Great atmosphere, lot of crowd in, hopefully Black Caps get up today by six wickets, Kane Williamson hundred at his home ground."

The 21-year-old said he was enjoying giving the Indian supporters around him "some stick".

Bahl, 22, laughed at this. He said he was "120 per cent" an Indian supporter.


"And he's got nothing much to give me stick about, if you saw the last game and if you've seen the scoreboard right now."

Bahl would end up winning that good-natured battle.

He said they last visited Bay Oval for the Under 19 Cricket World Cup last year.

"It's good, it's quite intimate with the players right there, and no big concrete stadium and all that."

Dean Wedlake of Waihi Beach, who was sitting on the bank with his family, said Bay Oval was "choc-a-block".

He was enjoying having so much international cricket played in the Bay.

"I think it's cool that they see Mount Maunganui as an option nowadays – there's more people down here and this is a bona fide cricket ground now," he said.

"Whereas you used to get one game every couple of years, now we get two in a weekend. Hopefully we get a day-night test sometime soon."

He, too, commented on the turnout and spirit of the Indian fans – they were, after all, hard to miss.

"Every time they go anywhere in the world, there's more Indian fans than there is the local fans. They bring colour and excitement everywhere they go, which is pretty cool."

And on Saturday, the Bharat Army had plenty to celebrate.

Black Caps vs India

Third ODI
Today from 3pm at Bay Oval