April 15, 2013

A slow start, packed houses, and a Delhi tip

Daredevils have not got off the blocks in the best fashion but it's early days yet

As a latecomer to the Delhi Daredevils squad, I arrived from Australia on the morning of game two, against Rajasthan. After a couple of hours' sleep it was straight to theteam meeting to get acquainted with my new team-mates.

I felt like a kid on his first day at high school, and only knowing a few people, I stick to them like glue. I haven't seen Dave Warner for a few months, and he looks like he hasn't eaten in all of that time. He's lost 8kg on his carb-free diet, and "The Bull" is now looking more like "The Gazelle".

We controlled the run chase well against the Royals, needing just 23 off 18 balls. But a run-out and some very good deathbowling from Kevon Cooper saw us fall five runs short. A disappointing result, but a great learning curve for our young batsmen.

It did not take long to become familiar with the train / play / travel schedule, making an early start the following morning for a flight to Mumbai.

That evening's training session made quite a sight, and a newone for me, with around 50 players and support staff on the field. Both teams had two nets each, set up on either end of thewicket square, and Wankhede Stadium resembled more of a golf driving range than a cricket pitch. With the likes of Warner, Pollard and Sehwag aligning their sights, balls were flying in all directions - a little bit like a Mumbai roundabout. I still can't quite believe nobody got hit.

This was my first net for the tour and it didn't go as well as Iwould've liked. I found it hard adjusting to the pace and bounceof the wickets, as they are far different from Aussie tracks. Istarted to find my timing towards the end of the net, and backedit up with a solid hit-out the following day, before I was a spellbound spectator for the evening's match. What an experience.

It's very hard to describe the noise that erupted in Wankhede Stadium as two of the game's greats walked out to bat. Tendulkar and then Ponting were introduced to the Mumbai crowd, to deafening cheers. Even though we dismissed these two legends cheaply, Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma put us to the sword with some fantastic batting. Despite good knocks from Warner and Juneja, the chase was too much, leaving usat 0-3 and with some catching up to do.

Though we've lost our first few games, spirits are high around the group. We have plenty of guys with international experience, who realise that momentum can turn around prettyquickly in T20. Our next match is a home game against Hyderabad and we'll be looking to kickstart our tournament then.

It took us the best part of five hours to get back to Delhi, as traffic to and from both airports seemed endless. Everyone passes the time differently; most sleep, a few read, and I mix between games and TV shows. I use this time to catch up onthe new episode of Game of Thrones. I've never really liked Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but somehow this show full of dragons, black magic and white-walkers just draws me in. Can't wait for next week.

The morning after gives me some time to sort out a few chores that have been left hanging by the busy start: organising playing kit, internet and phones. Training in the afternoon is team-only due to limited nets, so I take the time off to do some fitness work and catch up with people back home.

Dinner is something I've been looking forward to since finding out I was coming to Delhi. Bukhara is one of the best Indian restaurants I've ever been to and the slow-cooked tandoor lamb is to die for. If you ever get to Delhi, it is a must.

Ben Rohrer plays for New South Wales, Melbourne Renegades, and for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL