September 22, 2013
Choice of game
The fact that this is the last tournament for both Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar made this match unmissable. I had never watched Sachin Tendulkar live, so I booked my ticket well in advance for this encounter.
Despite Tendulkar being the reason I was present at the ground, I supported Rajasthan Royals since I am a Jaipur lad and a die-hard Rahul Dravid fan.
Sanju Samson was the star with the bat, but the real show-stealer was the skiddy Himachal Pradesh pace bowler Vikramjeet Malik, who broke Mumbai Indians' back with the wickets of Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik in his first spell and then delivered another killer blow by picking up Kieron Pollard off the first ball of his final over.
One thing I'd have changed
I would have liked to see Tendulkar and Dravid score more runs. Even in this age of slam-bang cricket, and despite this being a Twenty20 game, there are followers like me who go to the ground only to see these batting artists score big and play those gorgeous strokes.
Face-off I relished
After Dravid's dismissal, out came young Samson to face two huge Aussie pacers. Against Mitchell Johnson, Samson first survived a big lbw appeal, then received a short ball at 150kph, before edging the third for a four. But none of these deterred the kid's confidence. Off the next ball, Samson played a fabulous Dravid-esque flick between mid-on and midwicket for four.
Rohit Sharma's ramp shot for six off Shane Watson was executed with precision. Not only was it played smartly, seeing that fine leg was inside the circle, but it was also timed very well.
Johnson was fielding at long-on in front of my seat. He received huge cheers whenever he came there, but towards the end of the game, there were some empty glasses and straws thrown towards him, though not directed at him, I'm sure. He had to kick those out of the boundary twice.
Shot of the day
It's a tough choice between Samson's stunning flick and Rohit's ramp shot, but I'll go with the former for the sheer class it exuded and for the fact that it reminded me of the classy VVS Laxman.
In my four seasons of watching T20 games at the SMS stadium, I have to say with a heavy heart that today's was the most ill-behaved crowd I've ever witnessed here. There were lots and lots of spectators throwing empty glasses and straws at the boundary from the stands. At two or three instances, the items fell inside the ground, disturbing the fielder at the boundary and bringing disrepute to the game.
The match was preceded by a musical performance by popular Bollywood singer Mika Singh.
ODI v Twenty20
I still prefer watching an ODI, being a little old-fashioned when it comes to my cricketing likes and dislikes. The longer format means more chances to watch your favourite player perform to the best of his abilities - longer bowling spells, setting the batsman up, more strokes.
The game lived up to my expectations. When the two teams met in the IPL in Jaipur a few months ago, the game was an absolute no-contest. This time it was tighter, neither low-scoring nor very high-scoring, ending in a last-over finish.
Marks out of 10
8, two marks deducted for not getting to see Tendulkar or Dravid fire with the bat, nor some good quality spin bowling in either innings despite the presence of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha in the Mumbai team.
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