Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, Jaipur

A Royal opening

When the home team wins, you don't feel too bad about the one-sidedness of the victory

Aashish Calla

Comments: 2 | Text size: A | A
Ajinkya Rahane scored 98 off 66 balls, Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, Jaipur, April 6, 2012
Ajinkya Rahane: brutality with class © AFP
Enlarge
Related Links

Choice of game
It was the Rajasthan Royals' first game of IPL 5 so I had to be there. A carnival atmosphere was expected at the ground, and of course, the prospect of Rahul Dravid captaining the side against Adam Gilchrist's Kings XI Punjab made it an unmissable game.

Team supported
The first champions of the IPL, and perhaps the only team in the tournament that has consistently invested in veterans - who else would pick Warne, Lehmann, Martyn, Dravid, Hodge and Hogg for their T20 team?

Key performer
Ajinkya Rahane proves that you just have to be a good batsman to succeed in all formats. As Sanjay Manjrekar aptly put it while announcing the Man-of-the-Match award, Rahane showed that one can maintain a strike rate of over 150 in a Twenty20 without slogging. He didn't play a single delivery across the line. In fact, there were times during his opening stand with Dravid when I was confused as to who was on strike. There can't be a greater compliment for a young batsman.

One thing I'd have changed
I would have given the first over of the Kings XI innings to Johan Botha because spinners have managed to get the usually rampaging Gilly out early in T20s. Siddarth Trivedi was easy meat for him.

Face-off you relished
Piyush Chawla v Rahane - two talented youngsters trying to win back a place in the national side. Round one went to Chawla who beat Rahane twice in his first over, and later removed another future star, Ashok Menaria. But round two went to Rahane when he hit Chawla for four fours in one over (one was a leg-bye though, but hey, it was Rahane's leg!). That over shifted the momentum towards the Royals.

What an entry
Kevon Cooper's first-ball six made him a crowd favourite. Though the Royals had maintained a good run-rate and hit fours right from the start, there had been only two sixes in the innings till 19.3 overs. But then out came Cooper - an unknown commodity for the opposition and the spectators - and smashed his first ball of the IPL, and in India, over backward point for an 85-metre six.

Wow moment
The usually slow-moving Shah dived full-length at the boundary line to save a four. Then he picked the ball up cleanly and flicked it back to another fielder nearby. Fabulously done. He saved two runs, but more importantly, showed the hunger he has despite being ignored by the selectors for some time now, even though he's one of England's most dangerous T20 batsmen.

Close encounter
My seat was too far from the boundary to get a good look at the players, but I enjoyed watching Ramesh Powar - who didn't play the match - warming up with the team. It was fascinating to see someone who looks so unfit field so actively.

Getting to watch Gilchrist live for the first time was a moment I'll cherish.

Shot of the day
Owais Shah swept Praveen Kumar for a four. What made it the shot of the match for me was the fact that after connecting with the ball, Shah didn't even look behind to see if it had gone for four. Instead, he looked at the bowler, as if to say, "Mate, someone told me you are a fast bowler so why are you bowling spin today?" Terrific, loved the attitude.

Crowd meter
The chants from the crowd in my section built up to a crescendo. Louder than the reception usually given to politicians and at religious functions. They were also singing old Hindi film songs during the game, which was unexpected. But the most hilarious part came when they chanted "Baith jaao" ("sit down") in the tone of "Sachin, Sachin" to people who stood up on their seats in front of them. That made the standing spectators smile and immediately sit down.

Entertainment
The DJ at the stadium deserves a high-ten, if there is such a thing. From the latest Hindi film songs to Punjabi music to the IPL trumpet, he had it all. But nothing entertained the Jaipur crowd more than the dancing cheerleaders, not even the 22 players, I dare say.

Overall
It was a lovely game for me, maybe because my team won. But it was also fascinating to watch the tussle between two captains who were probably unlucky not to have led their national teams for longer periods. I also got to watch the birth of a new T20 star and a youngster showcasing his splendid talent again. I couldn't have asked for much more from the Royals' first game in 2012.

Marks out of 10
8.5. I deduct 1.5 because I couldn't get to see Rahane score a century and because Kings XI didn't really give much of a fight, which meant there weren't any nail-biting moments in the game.

Want to do a Fan Following report? Read our FAQ here

Aashish Calla, 26, is an engineer and business analyst by profession, but a massive cricket follower first. He has loved cricket since the 1996 World Cup. He enjoys writing about the game and discussing it with his friends.

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Comments: 2 
Posted by delboy on (April 9, 2012, 12:41 GMT)

One hopes Kevon Cooper can maintain a cool head. He will eventually win the player of the match, for taking ALL 10 opposition wickets or even hitting 36 from an over. This kid is a bargin for his franchise. Is it possible that he could be considered for an Indian passport to allow his game to develop further? I read in other forums where West Indians are asking for Bravo, Gayle, Pollard, Narine et al to be banded from representing their countries because they chose to play IPL cricket ahead of represent the WI in the current series against AUS. These folks do not see this as a way forward as the more players like Narine and Cooper coming through is a catalyst to re-establish WI cricket by encouraging the youth on the streets to get playing in order to EARN BIG and eventually represent the WI. IPL will be a saviour for WI cricket allowing players to have a future unlike the past where the administration looked after themself.

Posted by Romenevans on (April 7, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

Excellent write-up. RR is the team to watch and i follow them too.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email this page to a friend Email Feedback Feedback Print Print
More in Fan Following
RSS FeedAll
  • ESPN
  • ESPNF1
  • Scrum
  • Soccernet