April 26, 2014
Series/Tournaments: Pepsi Indian Premier League
Choice of game
Here were are in 2014 and, to me, it feels like it's only been a year since the IPL debuted. It was madness in Dubai as swarms of spectators perched themselves at good vantage points to get the finest view of the match between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians. There was a tumultuous response for this match from the demographic that constitutes over 30% of the UAE population! Within the first hour of the tickets sale going online, all the straight-boundary grandstands were booked. What was a bigger shock was that my South African boss had bought these tickets before I did.
I am from Chennai but that wasn't my only reason to support them. They have been in scintillating form, though you never know when a team like Mumbai can turn the screws.
Mohit Sharma was impeccable with his line and length throughout his spell. In the 19th over, with the spectators on the edges of their seats, he knocked over Kieron Pollard's stump and then had Ambati Rayudu and Harbhajan Singh caught. He gave away only 14 runs in his four overs, and his every dot ball was applauded by Chennai fans.
Rohit Sharma and Corey Anderson's partnership was starting to look perilous when R Ashwin broke it with a superb run-out. Anderson might have called early, but a swift pick-up and bull's eye throw sent him back to the pavilion.
Francois du Plessis flew to his right to try to stop a bullet from Anderson, but though he sailed through the air for a good three seconds, he couldn't save the boundary.
Shot of the day
Free hit, signalled the umpire, when Lasith Malinga was penalised for over-stepping in the final over of his superb spell. Cheers of "Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni" rang across the field as the Chennai captain lined up for the shot, his bottom hand mustering all the power for a helicopter. Malinga bowled a yorker-length ball, but Dhoni, deep in his crease as he always is, cleared his front leg and heaved one over midwicket. It didn't look like a helicopter, but certainly damaged Malinga's economy rate.
To call the atmosphere at the DSC Cricket Stadium electric would be an understatement. Nearly all the 25,000 seats were shimmering with hues of yellow tees, blue flags, tutti-frutti-coloured afro wigs and blue-golden face paints. As the coin flipped from MS Dhoni's fingers, the left corner of the purple stand went up in a resounding roar, followed by screeching whistles. The crowd right behind the ropes was in a dilemma about whether to wave at Jonty Rhodes, who was giving fielding drills, or to stare at the gorgeous cheerleaders, clad in blue, gold, red and yellow. When the Chennai players and the Mumbai batsmen got on to the field, the famous "Ring of Fire" floodlights intensified the atmosphere.
Banner of the day
One banner echoed the election slogans in India with: "Ab ki baar, Mumbai ki vaar! "This time, Mumbai's attack".
Though I'd have preferred the music coming out of a Bose line-array speaker, the sound was monstrous in the arena. The DJ mixed international and Bollywood tunes, timing them perfectly with nice shots and dolly catches, and made sure the crowd was on its feet every time the loudspeakers thumped. Rocket launchers also went off in a line at the fall of every wicket.
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