FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2013, Hyderabad

May 9, 2013

Chennai spies in Sunrisers jerseys

Videh Ranjan


Suresh Raina lofts a straight six, Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2012, final, Chennai, May 27, 2012
This game was a Suresh Raina special, from start to finish © Associated Press
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Team supported
I have always been a keen follower of CSK, because they are an entertaining and a balanced side with a lot of big names. I did hope for a Chennai win but surely wanted a closer contest than what transpired.

My dream final will be between Chennai and Rajasthan Royals, with the latter winning a hard-fought contest marginally. I like the two men leading these teams, with very different approaches to cricket and leadership - they are both inspirational and cool-headed men who love competing and never give up without a fight.

Key performer
This game was a Suresh Raina special. He once again demonstrated how much of a team player he is. He started by supporting Michael Hussey who was going strong, but once Raina crossed 50, he joined the run frenzy. The giant screen kept bestowing him with catchy monikers after each blow - Red-hot Raina, Smashing Raina, Hammer shot Raina and so on.

The last ball of the Chennai innings had Darren Sammy bowling at Raina who was on 93. The Chennai fans, including our little party was praying for a no-ball. As luck would have it, Raina sprinted through for a tight second and somehow managed to make his ground - and yes, it was indeed a no-ball. It seemed that fate had conspired to give Raina the opportunity to reach a ton, but it was not to be. He could only pick up four runs off the last ball and finished on 99.

One thing I'd have changed about the match
After the massive run-fest that was the Chennai innings, even the most optimistic Hyderabad fan would've been apprehensive. Everyone was hoping someone would play a David Miller hand - perhaps Shikhar Dhawan. I wish he had not been run-out so early in the chase. His presence might have ignited the fight in Hyderabad's batsmen.

Face-off I relished
Dale Steyn v Michael Hussey. Steyn, among the best bowlers this season, started off wonderfully with a maiden. Hussey bided his time, though, and capitalized against the other bowlers. In the end Ravindra Jadeja put him away for two exquisite off-side boundaries, but Steyn still finished with enviable figures.

Accessories
We were the spies in the Sunrisers camp for this game. We wore the Sunrisers jerseys, but cheered for the Super Kings.

Close encounter
Jadeja, whose jersey has the name 'Jaddu' on it, was fielding in front of us - and all the jokes were out of the bag. Every save was cheered, and every time he looked back at us, the mob went hysterical. He waved shyly but the crowd never let go of the Jadeja jokes.

Steyn threw a water bottle across to the crowd in the stand above ours and a wild roar went up as a young guy caught it superbly.

Shot of the day
By the time Sammy came on for the last over, Raina had discovered his golden touch and was simply unstoppable. The absolute disdain with which he dismissed Sammy's first ball was a thrill to watch.

Crowd meter
I have been to quite a few matches in Hyderabad - including the Test matches with New Zealand and Australia and a few IPL games. However, the atmosphere at the stadium today was easily the best. It was packed with people from all walks of life - kids aged five already fiercely loyal to their teams, and older people who were dancing to the Mexican wave as enthusiastically as the young ones.

Perhaps because of the evening showers, the heat had eased a bit, prompting the crowd to dance and make merry. Surprisingly, there was plenty of support for Chennai. MS Dhoni was welcomed like a legend - and it was sad to see him disappoint the crowd with a couple of loose shots and a quick exit.

Hardship factor
The parking facilities at the ground leave a lot to be desired. The stadium is quite far from the city and it takes quite some time to reach there. After having fought through the peak city traffic, we dread searching for a parking spot at the stadium. It is quite an ordeal, and we often end up parking very far away from the gate we are supposed to enter.

TV v stadium
At a match like today's, the stadium experience cannot even be compared to the TV. The atmosphere, the anticipation, the impromptu dance jigs, the Mexican waves and the big-hitting, all contribute to a very memorable experience.

Marks out of 10
Definitely a 10 for the crowd, but only 9 for the match itself. We had gone along with a friend's mother, who is a keen follower of cricket and it was her first time at a stadium. Even she got sucked into the Mexican wave and the other assorted revelry. If only Hyderabad had put up a fight.

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Videh is an engineering and management graduate working as a product manager in a leading software firm. But that is work, and life is outside on a motorcycle, travelling, discovering nature and watching cricket matches.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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