Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Victoria Bushrangers v New South Wales Blues, semi-final, Champions League, Delhi

Gone in 22 overs

No contest, no crowd, little music. Oh well, at least there was Billy Doctrove

Vigneshwar Kalyanasundaram

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Phillip Hughes rocks back to cut, New South Wales v Victoria, 1st semi-final, Champions League, Delhi, October 21, 2009
Hughes lays into one © Global Cricket Ventures-BCCI
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Choice of game
My short visit to India allowed me to watch one game in Delhi this week and the semi-final was an easy winner over the dead rubber on Monday. Given the two teams' performances in the Champions League thus far, and their previous encounters this year, I expected a tight, low-scoring game. Turns out I would only be right about the low-scoring part.

Team supported
T&T, without a doubt. The way they have played their cricket brims with a sense of entitlement not seen for over two decades in the Caribbean.

In this particular game I had a slight bias towards Victoria simply because their star power was a little lower than the Blues'. There was definitely no underdog to love here.

Key performer
Despite Warner's impressive hitting at the start of the Blues' innings, the first over from Australia's first-choice spinner vaporised any chances the Vics had of chasing the stiff target. Although he bowled less and less menacingly as the ball got older (perhaps due to the dew), Nathan Hauritz's two wickets put paid to the aggression the Bushrangers needed to win.

One thing I'd have changed about the match
The turnout for the game was disappointing. Although the tickets weren't prohibitively expensive, given that the organisers probably knew about the less-than-spectacular sales, I would have liked to see them pack the stadium with students to build atmosphere.

Face-off I relished
Heading into the game I was looking forward to the delectable prospect of a mean fast bowler, Peter Siddle, taking aim at the NSW openers, who were sure to hurl the kitchen sink at his bowling. After starting off with a very painful-looking blow to Hughes, Siddle was treated rather shabbily by Warner in his second (19-run) over, which might have well cost the Vics the match.

Wow moment
There was keen interest in Andrew McDonald's bowling, as most spectators recognised him as Victoria's best bowler on show. The batsmen struggled to maintain their momentum once he came on, and when he castled Daniel Smith, the crowd appreciated it with some extended celebrations. Soon after, we heard the resounding crack of leather on willow and the ball floated into the stands as Simon Katich deposited Jon Holland over wide long on. The celebrations came to an abrupt end and the little support that McDonald had eked out for the Bushrangers all but vanished.

Player watch
While the Blues were teeing off, Rob Quiney was at the boundary near my seat. The cheers from the fans got no response from him, and he was thoroughly vilified for a misfield that gave away a boundary. Damien Wright and John Hastings, who were hanging out near the ropes, were cheered, and gave embarrassed smiles and waves back. David Warner fielded in that area for the Blues, and after the first few overs, the pressure was off and he thoroughly enjoyed the attention he got from the fans, responding to the crowd chanting his name with a Bollywood-inspired jig.

Shot of the day
Apart from a shot of Billy Doctrove dancing on his way out of the dressing room, I cannot recall one that I would describe with superlatives. Matthew Wade's variety of scoops did make for enjoyable viewing and added some spice to a game that was all over by then.

Crowd meter
The crowd was extremely sparse and clustered around the mini stages set up for the cheerleaders. The wickets, boundaries and sixes got reactions in the first innings, but the second innings was rather dull. The MC tried his hardest on the microphone to get the fans involved, but he was rejected like a nerd who has asked the prom queen out. The crowd reserved their enthusiasm for a cheerleader who was doing some impressive gymnastic moves by herself, but it was a rather uninspired atmosphere overall.

Entertainment
The limited repertoire of the DJ and the abuse of the trumpet calls for cheers meant that the evening was very unpleasant aurally.

Star-spotting
I did not spot any myself. At one point rumours that Bollywood star Zayed Khan was behind us caused the people in our section to be looking back, saving Andrew McDonald the ignominy of being seen getting bowled after a rather unsuccessful innings.

Overall
The game was interesting for all of 22 overs. The Blues' blistering start was followed by some good bowling from the Vics, who then allowed the Blues to regain the initiative right at the death. NSW took this momentum into the second innings and it was all over when Brad Hodge was trapped in front. The crowds did not turn up in numbers, and those that did didn't seem very interested in the cricket. The atmosphere was uninspiring and the game one-sided, but on the bright side, we were able to get some great seats.

Marks out of 10
Definitely a very low score. Between the lack of strong support for either team and lack of self-belief in one, the game struggles to rack up more than a measly 3, all of which go to the enjoyable opening partnership that the Blues put on, and that Hauritz over.

Interested in doing a Fan Following report for the India-Australia one-day series? Details here

Vigneshwar Kalyanasundaram is an engineering student who opens the bowling for Georgia Tech. Hailing from Baroda, he is visiting from Seoul, Korea, where he is on a teaching assignment, and where his search for cricket ended in him umpiring in an ICC Centenary tournament. His goals include (in decreasing order of probability) working for Hawk-Eye, becoming a member of the MCC, and getting married in cricketing whites on a greentop.

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