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First-person reports from the stands
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Choice of game
Having watched in disbelief as RCB surprised CSK on Saturday, I realised I was right in picking up tickets for this match. Now the Sunrisers needed to win to get through and I had to be there to take them through.
I have always backed the Hyderabad franchise. Last year, the Deccan Chargers knocked Bangalore out of the tournament in the final league game, but the victory was only half sweet since Deccan finished in the bottom half. But this time there was a lot more riding in the result for the Sunrisers. I was in the same Sunrisers jersey I wore to the victory against Rajasthan, and the good-luck charm worked wonders again.
We could sense the intensity in the air. Normally, when Hyderabad plays the popular teams the support would be 50-50. But today, the stands were a sea of orange. The tension was evident when the crowd watched in silence as the Kolkata openers got through the Powerplay without much trouble. There was applause whenever Dale Steyn ripped in his short balls or when Anand Rajan kept it tight. The crowd was cheering, but cautiously. Things changed gradually, though, and as the match proceeded, the carnival set in.
The Sunrisers openers Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan. Having watched KKR make only 130 I feared the SRH openers would struggle. But they took off instantly and grabbed the match out of KKR's grip with a fluent 89-run stand.
One thing I'd have changed about the match
The sudden twist in the climax made it too nervy - especially the maiden over from Sunil Narine. I'd have preferred to have a smoother finish. But then, to make it up, Darren Sammy's sixes made it a grandstand finish instead of a heart-stopping one.
Face-off I relished
After Steyn delivered sweet chin music to Yusuf Pathan, the next ball was duly dispatched over the fence. Yusuf instantly dropped his bat and put his hands up in mock-applause. After seeing the celebration on the big screen, Steyn returned the compliment at the top of his run-up with applause of his own. The two were inseparable till the end of the over.
Close encounter Steyn kept playing to the gallery as he's done all season. He began with the 'I can't hear you' gesture towards the crowd on the Eastern stands and applauded every time the crowd responded. But he did curtail his antics after a misfield miffed him.
We were in the front row in our stand, which afforded us a close-up view of the action at third man, or long-on. Amit Mishra put in a dive in front of us, and Yusuf's sixes fell into our gallery. After returning home, I watched highlights and got to see myself on TV every time the ball made it to the boundary at our end.
Shot of the day
Shikar Dhawan's jump-and-cut off Jacques Kallis for six was the shot of the day for me. That shot had the words 'This is T20 my friend' written all over it.
The careful banner banter
I had wanted to bring a 'Bye-bye RCB' banner to the ground, but I was aware that it could backfire. So I decided against it. I looked around the ground and on the big screen for at least one such banner. But clearly, everyone was apprehensive. But finally with the target under 40, I got the first glimpse of a banner that had exactly those words.
It took the crowd some time to get pumped up and the Manvinder Bisla dismissal triggered off delirium. When the SRH innings started, no amount of coaxing from the DJ or the big screen could get them going. But a few minutes into the chase, all that changed when Parthiv Patel crashed one over the top.
Having a cricket stadium in the middle of a hugely populated residential area does not help at all. Parking is a big mess with cars parked all around the ground, and along the roads abutting the stadium. Drinking water is not available for sale at the ground - soft drinks are the only thirst-quenchers on sale. Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed inside the ground, but some people managed to sneak them in. One person in the crowd was even caught on the big screen taking a picture of the roving cameraman.
As has been the case at other stadiums, the fans got a view of the home team players on a victory lap. A lucky few also got to take home jerseys that the players flung into the crowd during the lap of honor. The franchise representatives were there too, with a 'Shukriya Hyderabad for the support' banner.
Marks out of 10 I'd have to give a 10/10, if only for the favourable result.
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