First-person reports from the stands
Series/Tournaments: Champions League Twenty20
My usual group of suspects and I snapped up tickets for all the Durban games when we heard that the Champions League would be played in South Africa. Having been a Royal Challengers fan since the inception of the Indian Premier League, it was a given that I would be out in full force backing the boys, especially on my home turf in Durban.
Although it was a choice between two shades of red, it was not a tough decision. I have backed Bangalore since Vijay Mallya signed on the dotted line as owner of the franchise. His heir apparent Siddarth Mallya (Number 82) was at the game. And with my favourite cricketer of all time, Rahul Dravid, as an icon player, I was champing at the bit to see the boys carry on the form from their fine opening game.
I will be honest and say that the standout performances must go to the Redbacks. Daniel Christian stole the bowling show with 4 for 23 and Shaun Tait steamed down the track and shone under the Durban lights. South Australia's opening batsman Michael Klinger proved yet again why he currently holds the tournament's golden bat. Ross Taylor and local boy Dillon du Preez were the only Bangalore players who had performances of note.
One thing I'd have changed
I would have relished the opportunity to see Manish Pandey blaze the ball to all parts of the ground. Pandey replaced the domineering and sublime Jacques Kallis and this was a ripe opportunity for this young talent to cement his place. But he only managed four runs. Robin Uthappa was also lackluster, missing the blitz we have all grown accustomed to watching.
Face-off I relished
My eyes always light up when Dale Steyn takes the ball. And I expected him to give the South Australia openers some hell tonight. Alas, I found myself in hell as I watched him dispatched to all ends of the ground. Nothing seemed to go according to my plan tonight.
Poor captain Kumble dived in front of our seats to stop a boundary late in the Redbacks innings when they were almost home. Not only did he miss the ball (at which point I threw my hands up in frustration and waved around madly) but then limped about when he did get to his feet.
Shot of the day
Ross Taylor, the only Bangalore player who did anything worth mentioning, hit a six over midwicket that was poised, glorious and a perfect example of the why the team relies on him to bring out the big guns.
As is typical for a night game in Durban, the fans were out in full strength, despite it being an uncharacteristically chilly night. As far as the eye could see, the Bangalore flags dominated the ground, alongside the odd Indian, South African and Sri Lankan flags.
Fancy dress index
The unwelcome cold forced most fans to don their hoodies and beanies. But one lone South African supporter did come to the party dressed in a South African ODI kit, complete with helmet, bat and pads. Good on him for staying strong till the end!
One of South Africa's most loved cricketers and Durban's most cherished red-haired fast bowler, Shaun Pollock, delighted the fans with a few swift moves to the music. It was at a time when the game looked thoroughly one-sided and the fans needed the pick-up big time!
Marks out of 10
6. Any live cricket match with my mates is always a fantastic experience. We have been through many losses and wins and have come away loving the good and laughing about the not-so-good (like this annoying old man who insisted on bringing a conch and pair of cymbals to this game). So although my team lost, this game gets points for great company, some good opposition and for the fact that I got to see Dravid play live again. That always counts for something in my books!
The one aspect missing from this game was some kind of Twenty20 excitement. And the weather can only take so much of the blame here. What we needed was to see Bangalore at least try their utmost to secure a win. The Redbacks knew all they had to do was push the ball into the right gaps. Bangalore lacked the hunger to stamp their authority in this game. So now with the Redbacks through to the semi-finals, all I can do is close my eyes and rely on a hope and prayer come Sunday, when Bangalore take on Mumbai in Durban.
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