Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians, IPL 2013, Delhi

Sachin the master and Sehwag the butcher

If you are a fan of Indian cricket, the Sunday game in Delhi would have made you very happy

Prithvijit Roy

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Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar at a practice session, Ahmedabad, November 13, 2012
"Whatever you do, I can do better." © AFP
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Choice of game
It was my dream to watch a good Virender Sehwag innings live and write an account of the day. I have watched matches in stadiums since 2005, my under-grad days, and it's an addictive exercise. This was the first time I got to watch Sehwag in the flesh.

Getting to the stadium
Since it was a marquee game, the stadium was packed. With all the security checks and general crowd mismanagement by the authorities, we missed the first three balls. I was heartbroken, because I had wanted to watch Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting walk in together. However, I was relieved to see that it was Dwayne Smith and not Ponting who had accompanied Tendulkar.

Fan love
All the spectators watched Tendulkar's entry with bated breath, regardless of the team they supported. Everyone must have cheered his defensive prod as much they did as his trademark straight drives or his vicious pulls to the boundary line. Shahbaz Nadeem became the darling of the crowd because he dropped a catch off on 37. It was only when Tendulkar was dismissed that you could make out the difference in allegiances.

As the evening wore on and a cool breeze blew into the stadium, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard made mincemeat of Delhi's hapless attack.

Key perfomer
I had already got my money's worth from seeing Tendulkar bat. But I soon realised that was only the appetiser, because the main course was to be served by the artist and the butcher - Mahela Jayawardene and Virender Sehwag. From a spectator's point of view, both styles were equally appealing. While you could hear a loud thwack when Sehwag struck the ball, it was only when you saw the ball race towards the boundary that you realised Jayawardene had made contact.

My friends know I am an ardent Sehwag fan and he was indeed the showstopper yesterday, but in the years to come, perhaps, I will recall the razor-like precision with which Jayawardene manipulated the field. Who could believe this team was at the bottom of the table? I can proudly say I was a part of an evening crowd that watched one of the best batting displays. There were no slogs, no dilscoops or ugly hoicks. Just proper cricketing shots that struck a chord with the audience.

One thing I'd have changed about the match
I'd have preferred to see Ponting bat rather than sit in his pads in the dugout.

The comic relief
In between all the Sehwag-Jayawardene mania, Harbhajan Singh entertained us when he got hold of a kite that had floated down to the ground.

Crowd meter
I usually try to get tickets for the East Stand, which has a better view, but this time I only managed to get seats in the West Stand. It was fascinating to watch all those mobile phone flashing across the stand to capture Tendulkar at the boundary line, the closest many fans would get to him. The good thing about players like Tendulkar and Harbhajan is that they acknowledge their supporters wherever they play, making it a point to wave to the crowd.

Unfortunately my phone had got switched off, so I could not analyse the match with my friends who were watching TV, nor could I add a photo of Tendulkar on the boundary to Facebook to make them envious.

Overall
As the match was drawing to a close, with Daredevils needing seven to win (and Sehwag on 91) David Warner became the villain of the day as he clipped a boundary and prevented Sehwag from getting a hundred before the match finished.

Knowing that it would take us a long time to get out of the stadium, we hurried down from the third floor to the first so that it would be easy to make our exit. Seeing the floodlit stadium from the bottom up made me think how beautiful some of the innovations of this game are, like coloured clothing and day-night cricket. It has given the sport a wider appeal.

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Prithvijit Roy grew up watching Tendulkar, Ponting and Sehwag terrorise bowlers all over the world. At 26, today he works as a consultant in a research firm and travels across the country.

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