Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2013, Mumbai

'Please don't leave cricket, Sachin'

KKR didn't really show up, but Tendulkar did. What's to complain

Mihir Gosalia

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Fans of Sachin Tendulkar hold up a banner, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 1st day, March 2, 2013
No. 34 in the list of most inventive Tendulkar banners of all-time © BCCI
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Choice of game
Kolkata Knight Riders' is among the most inspirational stories in the IPL. Given their history, nobody would have expected them to do well in 2012, but they scripted a magnificent turn-around to win the title. I badly wanted to see a champion team in action, so I booked my tickets for this game.

Team supported
I was backing KKR to win, since that would have kept them in contention and kept the tournament interesting.

Key performer
Sachin Tendulkar 48 runs off 28 deliveries that included eight boundary hits. His batting might shows no signs of waning even at the age of 40. His opening stand with Dwayne Smith for 93 runs formed the base for Mumbai to pile on a challenging total.

One thing I'd have changed about the match
Sachin Tendulkar was batting beautifully on 48 and the crowd was expecting him to get to his half-century when Rajat Bhatia was bowling. The chants of "Sachin, Sachin" could be heard around the Wankhede, but he was bowled by Bhatia. I would have liked to see him score more. That would have been memorable and would have given us something to remember for ages.

Face-off I relished
I was eagerly looking forward to Sunil Narine v Sachin Tendulkar since Narine had dismissed Tendulkar the last time these two teams played. I was also interested in Narine v Dwayne Smith, who has been the answer to Mumbai's opening woes.

Of course, this face-off did not pan out as Sunil Narine was preserved for the final overs. L Balaji bowled an economical spell to the two Mumbai opening batsmen but he did not get support from the opposite end.

Wow moment
The smart catch by Eoin Morgan at deep midwicket to dismiss Rohit Sharma made me go 'Wow'. Morgan caught the ball near the boundary, but realised that the momentum would make him over-balance. So he immediately threw the ball high up in the air before stepping over, then regained his balance and completed the catch.

Close encounter
Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga fielded near the boundary for a while. Whenever Pollard and Malinga walked near the edge, there were huge cheers from the crowd welcoming them. Both were kind enough to wave back to the crowd. There was also a banner put up by a fan urging Pollard to display some Caribbean style dance moves.

Shot(s) of the day
The stand-out shots were Tendulkar's five boundaries off McLaren in the fourth over of the game, which brought the crowd alive. Another outstanding stroke was Mitchell Johnson's six off the last ball of the Mumbai innings. The crowd was chanting - "We want six, we want six" - and Johnson obliged by thrashing the ball over the long-off boundary.

Crowd meter
Though the stadium was packed, I felt the buzz was lacking. Mumbai's players had the loudest cheers reserved for them by the crowd.

Fancy dress index
In the North Stand, I could spot a group of spectators wearing the Mumbai jersey, along with Anna Hazare type Gandhian caps on. There were an entire range of Malinga wigs in different colors like blue and yellow. All of this made the game look like a carnival and not just another T20 game.

Entertainment
The music started as early as 6.30 pm, and got the crowd excited and ready for the game. The cheerleaders from both the teams duly joined in by entertaining the crowd with their acrobatic moves. The DJ took responsibility to start the Mexican wave from the fourth over of the match. The music continued till 10 in the night. There was thunderous applause from the crowd during the presentation ceremony when Tendulkar was announced as Man of the Match.

Banner of the day
"Take 20 years of my Life, but please don't leave cricket. Love you Sachin" - this was on a banner in our stand.

Overall
Full marks to the organisers for living up to the crowd's expectations. The quality of cricket dished out by both the teams was good too, though I'd have preferred to see a better fight from KKR.

Marks out of 10
I'd give this game 7 points. This is probably the last time I'll see Tendulkar play at the Wankhede Stadium. It is not clear if he may play the IPL tournament next year. So I will savour this moment and tell stories of it for ages to come. This game's tickets were planned and booked online well in advance. So everything worked out just fine.

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Mihir is a management graduate, currently employed with a leading travel firm in Mumbai. When he is not working on systems implementation, he is busy catching up with the latest news on the internet, watching a blockbuster movie or enjoying a live cricket match. Mihir also writes a regular blog here

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