First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
This time around, I did not choose the game, the game chose me. A generous friend had a couple of passes to spare for the Delhi Daredevils v Pune Warriors game, which meant I was watching my second IPL game within two days.
Considering the new-age Dada was coming to town with his troops, who have performed well this season, I was looking forward to a good game. The home team was in good form coming into this match, and I expected them to continue the run.
The old-timers have really stepped up this IPL. Rahul Dravid is leading his side pretty well and Sourav Ganguly is doing what he does best. Leaving my confused regional alliances aside, the cricket romantic in me would like to see one of these veterans lift the trophy, a throwback to the good old days.
It is amazing to see how seamlessly Ganguly has shed the comforts of the commentary box and taken charge of the Warriors, retaining his characteristic fiery on-field demeanour. Under a bit of pressure, with two losses on the trot, and talks of Marlon Samuels coming in before him, Dada rolled back the years with his performance. First with the bat, scoring a quick 41 and putting on a crucial stand with the in-form Jesse Ryder, and then with the ball, removing the ominous Kevin Pietersen first ball. The all-round performance took me back to the vintage Sahara Cup days, when Dada used to be the Tzar of Toronto.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
I would ban the usage of mobile phone cameras inside the stadium. People spend more time posing or taking pictures than actually watching the match. The gentleman in front of me kept standing every over for a picture to be clicked with the field in the background. Dorian Gray would have been put to shame with the level of narcissism on display.
In the game, I wished KP had stayed longer. The chase would have been much more fun then.
Face-off I relished
I really wanted to see how Ganguly would cope with Morne Morkel's short and fast deliveries. But the Twenty20 format took out the sting off the battle as Morkel could only use the short-pitched stuff with restraint. In the end though, it was Morkel who dismissed Ganguly. What looked from the stands a certain six was caught well by Umesh Yadav.
Virender Sehwag and KP were going great guns, hitting balls out of the park in tandem. The Daredevils were ahead of the Warriors on a head-to-head comparison in the ninth over, and the partnership looked good to win it for the home team. Enter Dada, taking the responsibility of breaking the partnership into his own hands. Off the first ball he sent back the dangerous KP, sparking wild, animated celebrations, and reminding us of what we have been missing. Trust Dada to pull off something like that!
Shot of the day
It wasn't the greatest shot of the match, but one straight drive by Ganguly off Shahbaz Nadeem almost took out umpire Asad Rauf, who had been in the firing line a few overs earlier at square leg. He fell to the ground, promptly signalled four while lying there, and then called for a helmet in jest. A fun moment for us, though I am sure Rauf would disagree.
For a good part of the match, Steven Smith was guarding the ropes near our stand. Knowing his reputation as a fielder, which he displayed with a Jonty-sque run-out attempt, I anticipated some electric moments. Alas, the ball rarely came to his patrol zone.
Because it was a Saturday evening game, the turnout was much better that the one for the Delhi-Deccan encounter a couple of days ago. The crowd looked much more energetic, sporting team jerseys, painted faces and the ever-popular Malinga wigs. The Daredevils had the majority of support. Warriors' fans could be seen in decent numbers too, occupying a common stand, wearing Warriors jerseys and waving their team flags. They had the last cheer too.
It is shame that there were so many eager people standing outside, willing to pay to watch their heroes in action, while sections of stands reserved for VIPs were poorly populated. I do not how, but this issue needs to be addressed.
The same old mix of global party hits and local numbers were played on the PA. Half-time saw a performance by the "Chawla Band", an apparently famous marriage party band in Delhi. They played a rendition of "Brazil" by the Vengaboys, which sounded as awful as the original, and playing it in marriage-party style was a punishment for us, really.
TV v stadium
Having watched close to 25 matches in stadiums, in the most adverse of situations at times, my choice of stadium over TV is an obvious one.
The turnout was much better than the last home game, and the visitors scored a lot of runs to set the stage for an exciting chase. The Sehwag-KP partnership had the crowd going, but the enthusiasm fizzled out once it was broken. A home win would have enhanced the viewing pleasure.
Marks on 10
8, for Dada's performance, and for the innings by Ryder and Sehwag. Points deducted for Delhi's chase losing track around the15th over because it made the result predictable.
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