Indian Premeir League: A fan's view April 19, 2008

Sporting crowd, and flowing liquor

Cricinfo got a ticket to find out what sort of buzz the IPL generated

How different would an IPL game be for a fan? Would the opening ceremony turn into an anti-climax? Would the atmosphere match the big games in other sport? Cricinfo got a ticket to find out


Hardly any partisan crowd at the IPL so far © Getty Images (file photo)
 

Anticipatory buzz: The Anil Kumble circle outside the ground was the beehive of most of the buzz. It became tough to navigate through the area at noon and by 5pm, Queens Road was partly blocked. It was obvious the numbers would match any one-dayer though it was also evident that there wasn't going to be too much of a partisan element to the cheering.

Twelve years ago few Bangaloreans would have even imagined a day which could rival the excitement that surrounded the India-Pakistan World Cup clash but the response here was threatening to approach it. Not many had their faces painted, fewer carried the tri-colour. Signs showing fours and sixes, though, were generously distributed.

Entry time: It's usually not too much of a hassle entering the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The queues are well set out and very few security men rough you up. Mobile phones aren't a problem and the frisking is usually nothing more than a quick run-through. What all this means is that the smart ones can sneak their cigarettes in.

Exit time: A no-contest meant people gradually trickled out of the stadium, reducing traffic hassles. Less than half the crowd was left at the end of the match and it meant a far smoother flow of people. There was parking available right next to the stadium at Cubbon Park and the road connecting the two was turned in to a pedestrian one for the night. A few corporates had arranged buses for their employees but there was no arrangement by the organisers as such (something they could probably think of with 11pm finishes.)

What the fans got: Vijay Mallya might have been gutted with the show his side put up but the alcohol sales would have brought a big smile. The sale of liquor - mostly around the corporate boxes - was something regular cricket fans were not used to and the scenes there appeared out of an American sports movie.

It was difficult to get water but the beer flowed at a McCullum-esque rate in the more expensive stands. The security personnel around these stands had it good and were often seen stationed right next to the liquor booths with glasses in hand. Priced reasonably, it was set out in stalls, along with wine and vodka, behind the stands, though it required some to walk some distance before they could get back to their seats. The best part was the clear signboards at every corner. A hot day ensured plenty of sales and also had the spectators heading to the restrooms. Though they seemed to have been set up in haste, the restrooms were occasionally inadequate but largely useable. The women's sections were relatively cleaner and had large mirrors placed in them as well. A scuffle broke out in one of the stands and more of those could see the alcohol sales being more closely monitored.

The higher-priced tickets had food included in their charge and spectators were able to enjoy a good quality buffet-style dinner. The caterers started serving food - which included three types of rice, roti, vegetable and chicken curries and kebabs - during the first innings, which somewhat lessened the rush at the break, and most spectators returned to their seats to cheer for their side while shovelling biryani into their stomachs.

Atmosphere: Bangaloreans used to the slew of rock concerts would have hoped for a better sound system but the intensity levels matched the big nights at Palace Grounds, where the bands play. Bollywood numbers blared out frequently but the crowd really got going with a few Kannada songs that played later in the day (interestingly coinciding with the home team's dismal show). The quality of fireworks - dazzling the audience for more than five minutes - matched the ones that light up the Sydney skyline on New Year's day and the lighting sat well with the grand scale of the event.

Crowd support: European football teams talk of the distinct edge they get in home games (with the crowd acting as the extra player) but it will take a while for these teams to develop such a following. Only once, when Sunil Joshi came on to bowl, did the crowd actually egg him along fervently on a night when the home side weren't really distinguishable from the visitors.


The Washington Redskins' cheerleaders weren't always sure when to cheer the Bangalore side © Getty Images (file photo)
 

McCullum's sixes were applauded (much more than they would have been if New Zealand were playing India) and Sourav Ganguly received big cheers after his wickets. So cosmopolitan is Bangalore's crowd that visiting teams are bound to find pockets of support every time and nothing symbolised it more than a group of fans who took their shirts off and swirled it above their heads the moment Ganguly was on strike.

No dull moment: Unlike in a Test match, though, the spectators had plenty of chance to get involved. Every good move by the Bangalore side was followed by the Redskin girls twirling their hips (and pom-poms). It took a while for them to realise when to cheer (the spontaneity came only towards the end) and it was hilarious to see them jiving to Kannada numbers. The crowd, though, swung with them all night. The girls cheering the Kolkata side had much more work on the night (McCullum ensured that with 13 sixes and 10 fours) and some even got the fans to synchronise with their movements.

Score? What score? Somebody needs to ferret out the digital scoreboard that's usually installed at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The manual scoreboard was hardly visible and the giant screen stopped working mid-way through the second innings. This was hardly a match when the scores needed to be closely monitored but come a nail-biter and the crowd may just be a bit confused.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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