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First-person reports from the stands
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Choice of game
The prospect of watching of Jacques Kallis face Dale Steyn and Kumar Sangakkara face Sunil Narine was mouth-watering. Kallis, having taken so many catches at slips off Steyn's bowling, surely knew the bowler's strengths and weaknesses and vice versa. Sangakkara has always been dexterous at playing spin, so I had expected a great duel between him and Narine, who is easily the wiliest spinner in IPL.
I had expected Kolkata Knight Riders to win the match, because they were a better team on paper, were playing at home and, had a certain Sunil Narine in the team.
It's a no-brainer for me -- it has got to be Knight Riders again. The Eden Gardens will host the final this time and just imagine the ambience if Knight Riders manage to make it. In such a case, I foresee the ticket touts making a killing.
Gautam Gambhir was the Man of the Match and I do not dispute the fact that he batted well and marshalled his resources well. However, Knight Riders owed the score of 180 -- an excellent score on this wicket -- to Eoin Morgan's innings. Before Morgan launched his onslaught, Knight Riders seemed to be progressing towards a 150-ish total. Sunrisers Hyderabad would have happily settled for a target of about 150 -- they had thrived chasing and defending low totals in their preceding games. So Morgan's innings took the game beyond Sunrisers' reach.
One thing I'd have changed
I only wish Sunrisers had been a little more competitive. They arrived in Kolkata with a pretty good record, in fact, a better win-loss record than Knight Riders, but almost handed the match to Knight Riders on a platter. While I was happy to see my home team win, I was disappointed to see such a facile win.
I might never know whether Yusuf Pathan, when he was a kid, was adept at plucking fruits that hung high on trees, but when he leapt to take a catch which many had thought was destined for a six off Cameron White's bat, he probably gave away a little bit of information about the pranks he played when he was younger.
White hit the ball high towards long-on and Morgan lost sight of it when he was blinded by the floodlights. It looked like a comical scene when he took evasive action but the ball could have seriously injured him.
Shot of the day
Steyn, until Morgan chose to ruin his bowling figures a bit, had been the most economical bowler in the game with just 14 runs off three overs. Morgan flat-batted the first legal delivery of Steyn's last over for a towering six over long-off. Disdain and disrespect for the world's best fast bowler reeked from the shot.
Based on the decibel metre of the crowd when the player names were announced, Narine, Gambhir and Pathan beat others by several miles in terms of popularity. It was surprising though that no Kolkata-based player got such roars of approval.
Getting to the stadium was like trying to contact the customer care executive of a bank on an Interactive Voice Response system. You had to reach the stadium after taking several detours which was unnecessary, and given the swelter, inhuman too. The security and the volunteers were mostly officious and confused. The BCCI and the cricket boards owe a lot to India's cricket-crazy people but I am not sure they realise that.
The crowd was at its noisy best and I struggled to talk over my phone each time it rang. It was rather entertaining to see an elderly man, who sat a few rows in front of mine, doing a few jigs when a popular song was played.
Marks out of 10
6. The match eventually turned out to be a one-sided affair and the organisation left a lot to be desired. Spectators deserve much more in the form of clean toilets, helpful and well-informed volunteers and reasonably-priced food items.
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