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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
It was blockbuster night at Kotla, with the top two teams facing off. I have been lucky enough to watch all but two of Delhi's home matches, a consistent run matching Virender Sehwag's streak of half-centuries. But with Kevin Pietersen, the man behind Delhi's resurrection, gone, I had a sneaky feeling Kolkata would win.
This IPL has been strange, in the sense that I have found it very difficult to associate myself with a team. The geographical proximity v favourite-players conundrum is a tough one to crack. That said, the Daredevils have not got their due in the past editions of the IPL and I would like them to go all the way this season.
Jacques Kallis has been surprisingly subdued this IPL, and it was time he came to the fore. The Daredevils were off to a great start, with their explosive openers, David Warner and Sehwag, racing away to a 40-run partnership inside four overs. Enter Kallis, who removed both in his first two overs. The Daredevils never really recovered from that jolt.
Kallis also batted calmly at Gautam Gambhir's dismissal and prevented the middle-order collapse that the Kolkata Knight Riders have been so prone to over the seasons.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
I would have sent a chartered flight to get KP back to Kotla for the match. But if I could have had changed something on the field, I would have loved for Sehwag to carry his form and score his sixth successive half-century in a row.
Face-off I relished
I really wanted to witness Lee v Sehwag, but Warner played (and missed) most of his early spell, leaving Sehwag with just one ball to negotiate.
Narine, the spin sensation, against the Daredevils batsmen was another face-off I enjoyed watching. They just could not score off him, which re-affirmed his tag of the mystery bowler.
I may be a bit biased here, but Varun Aaron, my hometown lad, features in the moment of the match for me. Brought into the attack to break the Knight Riders' ominous opening partnership, he celebrated almost immediately as Gambhir skied one to Umesh Yadav... only to be dropped. Aaron took matters into his own hands then, bowling Gambhir off the next ball.
It did not have a big impact on the result, but I was really happy for Aaron who bowled an economical spell and could have had another wicket had Irfan Pathan not dropped a simple catch that reprieved his brother, Yusuf.
Shot of the day
Brendon McCullum, who wears the #42 jersey, had the answer to life, the universe and winning last night for the Knight Riders. In the 15th over, by Morne Morkel, McCullum displayed the disdain that is so characteristic of his batting. Morkel dug one short, and McCullum, anticipating it, clobbered a powerful pull to the square-leg boundary.
For the entire Daredevils innings, Brett Lee fielded below the 1st tier stand where we were sitting. He is one of the most popular cricketers, and that showed in the way crowd were shouting and cheering for him. He acknowledged intermittently with a smile and a wave.
The big match and an 8pm start brought in a lot of supporters to the ground. The vocal support, however, wasn't as loud as in the past few matches. The only time the stadium came alive was when Umesh Yadav was on a hat-trick. A lot of Knight Riders' fans were also present, sporting confident smiles that grew into grins as the match drew to a close.
The music was the same old stuff, except that the local band that performed in the earlier matches seemed to be absent.
One a side note, on the day Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest poets, was born, it was appalling to hear the official song of the Knight Riders, who also belong to his city. Tagore fans will cringe at the mention of him and the IPL in the same sentence, but the point I am trying to make is that the city of creativity should come with something better than: "We're hot, we're cool, we're Kolkata, we rule".
Twenty20 v ODIs
In our generation that feeds on products providing instant gratification, Twenty20s score over ODIs.
It was a Knight Riders match so I think a lot of spectators had come to spot stars. The king of Bollywood, Shak Rukh Khan, was in the house, and he did not make any effort to hide the fact. He paraded near the boundary ropes, waving at the screaming fans, and at times the match seemed like a backdrop for this frenzy. My view of the game was repeatedly blocked when the others rushed to the front every time Shah Rukh was visible to our stand.
The Daredevils' start had ignited hopes of it being another high-scoring encounter, but the batting faltered in the middle overs and changed the course of the match. The Knight Riders' batting was as solid as usual, and local boy Gambhir gave his hometown fans little to cheer as he set about scripting a comfortable chase. The quality of cricket was top-notch, if we discount a couple of dropped catches by the Daredevils.
Marks on 10
8. It was an easy victory for the Knight Riders. A closer match would have fetched more points.
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