Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Eagles v Sussex, Champions League, Delhi

Cornelius and a beauty

An American cricket fan enjoys the game, endures the music, and falls in love with a cheerleader

Ben Smith

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Cornelius de Villiers bowls Rory Hamilton-Brown to seal victory in the eliminator, Eagles v Sussex, Group B, Champions League Twenty20, Delhi, October 13, 2009
De Villiers for president © Global Cricket Ventures-BCCI
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Choice of game
I picked this game because I was there for the Eagles' first match against New South Wales and I thought that I would see more from them. Obviously I was right.

Team supported
I wanted Sussex to take this one.

Key performer
I don't think there's any question. Cornelius de Villiers was simply outstanding.

One thing I'd have changed about the match
I sat in the Tata End for the first time today. Usually I sit in the East stands. The main difference? The speakers. Every six, four, wicket, over break, or just a break in play I got an earful of the Dhoom 2 soundtrack. I realise that part of the attraction of Twenty20 cricket is the atmosphere, but honestly, it was really loud. I mean, really loud. So, if I could have, I would have turned the volume down a little bit.

Face-off I relished
The over before his brilliant caught-and-bowled off Rory Hamilton-Brown, de Villiers was in the field right in front of me. I told the friend I was with that I was really looking forward to seeing him bowl. For me the best face-off was de Villiers v anyone.

Wow moment
The biggest was the second wicket de Villiers took in the Super Over. That's actually what I said: "Wow."

Player watch
De Villiers and Yasir Arafat were out by my stand pretty regularly, and while de Villiers got left alone, Arafat was heckled every time he backed up towards the boundary. "Yasir bhai" was the call of choice.

Shot of the day
The last four of the Eagles' innings, by Ryan McLaren, was incredible.

Crowd meter
There weren't a whole lot of people there, but that was expected. Two teams from out of the country, without any big names, is just not a match-up that holds much promise. Like I mentioned before, the music was the biggest noise contributor.

Entertainment
I felt like I just watched Dhoom 2. That's how many times "Dhoom Machale" came on over the loudspeakers. I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in the music selection, but after a match like that it's hard to complain about anything. The cheerleaders were great; they interacted with the crowd and entertained us. When it got quiet, they led the cheers. The fireworks were simply awesome, and if you were the tall dark-haired cheerleader in front of the North West stand last night, I'm in love with you. Just throwing that out there.

IPL v Champions League?
It's hard to compare the IPL and the Champions League. The atmosphere at an IPL match is like none other: the fans are in it, their heroes are on the field, and it's the most exciting form of the game. With the Champions League, their heroes are still there but there's not as many of them. Locally, I would say that the IPL is a bigger competition because you have to love cricket to watch Eagles v Sussex. You only have to love the Delhi Daredevils to watch Delhi v Kolkata.

Marks out of 10
I have to give this match 10 out of 10. No doubt about it. It was a thriller in a great stadium with a great atmosphere.

Ben Smith is an American living in New Delhi. His large amounts of useless cricket knowledge have impressed as many as two people. When not convincing himself that people do care about the volumes of facts and stats he's committed to memory, he writes for Portsmouth FC on ESPNSoccernet.com, complains about the BCCI, and cleans his best dishes, just in case Brett Lee stops by for dinner.

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