First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
Two of the biggest teams playing at a stadium I hadn't seen before, on a Sunday evening in Mumbai, were enough reasons to book tickets as soon as they were available online. As May 6 arrived, I set out to the stadium with my fiancée, who is a die-hard Chennai Super Kings fan. As much as there was a match in the stadium, there was one between us, wearing our respective jerseys and chanting our team names.
I was born and brought up in Mumbai, hence the loyalties lie there. And since Sachin Tendulkar plays for the Mumbai Indians, it simply affirmed my choice. Last year Mumbai nearly* made it to the IPL final and won the Champions League, so winning the 2012 IPL would be a dream for die-hard fans like me who travel from one end of the city to another to watch them in action.
In a star-studded game, a relatively unknown player called Dwayne Smith took Mumbai over the line. The 14 runs of final three balls threw the crowd into a frenzy, and I think every Mumbai supporter will be hitting Google to know some more about this new sensation.
One thing I'd have changed
On a hot Mumbai afternoon, a 4pm start only adds to the misery of the spectators and players. Such games are best played at night, starting at 8pm.
Face-off I relished
Tendulkar v the Chennai bowlers and Malinga v Dhoni.
A toss-up between the spectacular catch taken by Francois du Plessis to dismiss Tendulkar and the runs scored off the final three balls by Smith.
When in Mumbai and supporting Mumbai, get the Mumbai jersey and feel at home with 34,000 other supporters. I blew the horn and waved the Mumbai flag too. It was quite a sight to see over 30,000 flags being waved when Tendulkar got to his half-century.
The atmosphere was electric. The "Malingaaa" chant rose across the stadium when he'd run in to bowl, and the roars when Tendulkar walked out on to the field to bat would have turned a few people deaf for the next ten minutes. The Mexican waves also made the occasion feel special.
Malinga can be titled the "Son of Mumbai" because every time he walked close to the midwicket boundary, and waved and smiled, the crowd would begin chanting "Malingaaa…. Malingaaa…. Malingaaa".
Shot of the day
Rohit Sharma's straight six that hit the sight-screen was magnificent to watch.
DJ Clement the official DJ for the Mumbai team kept the crowd dancing and swaying to foot-tapping house music prior to the match. Once the match began they switched to popular Bollywood tracks. In between overs, the stadium looked like a venue for a live concert. During the strategic time-out 15 young lads did an amazing b-boying act which drew applause from every soul in the stadium.
Twenty20s v ODIs
T20s are convenient, compact and appeal to everyone. A good percentage of the stadium was made up by women and children, and that's the diversity T20 has brought to cricket. I hope to watch another IPL match with my mom and sister because I am sure they'll love it.
Banner of the day
A five-year-old girl was holding up a "Raina will you marry me" poster. It had everyone in our stand in splits, and goes to show the fascination for our Indian cricketers starts early.
TV v stadium
Watching a live match, and especially an IPL match, has to be on your list of "Ten things to do before you die".
It has to be a thrilling experience when you get to watch nearly 350 runs scored, 17 wickets fall, and a four off the last ball to win. Add to that some great shots, great catches and an exciting atmosphere.
Marks out of ten
9, for a great show, a fantastic stadium under lights, and a last-ball. An 8pm start would have made it 10.
*May 7, 2012, 0830GMT: It was incorrectly stated that Mumbai made it to the IPL final in 2011. This has been changed
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