At one in the afternoon, it was doubtful whether the Pro20 game would take place at all, with a leaden sky and distant rumblings of thunder. But by the time we arrived at the ground, an hour before the scheduled start, most of the dark clouds had vanished, and a carnival atmosphere was slowly being built up. Cheerleaders dressed in blue set the tone, and a Bollywood-style dance routine and the national anthems roused a less-than-capacity crowd to fever pitch as the teams walked out to commence the game.

There were ironical cheers when Graeme Smith middled the first ball from Zaheer Khan. His travails have been well documented, and though he managed 16 today, the manner of his dismissal - shuffling across to be struck in line - had all the inevitability of a sunset in the west. Zaheer was in sensational form, conceding just 15, and by the time he completed his spell, India were right on top. Justin Kemp and Albie Morkel briefly had the home fans up on their feet, but all the Indian bowlers contributed significantly in restricting the final total to 126.

Morkel's six off Harbhajan Singh soared high over the scoreboard and into some distant street, and Virender Sehwag, captaining the side a day after he lost the Test-match vice-captaincy, appeared determined to match his efforts with a violent slashed six over point. During the mid-match break, the mystery behind the Pro20 moniker had also been solved, with Kate Johns, a Public Relations Manager for Standard Bank, explaining why it wasn't called Twenty20 as it is in other parts of the world.

"Three years ago, when we started playing the format, there was another bank called Twenty20 in existence. So, to name it that wasn't possible,"she said. "Since then, we've worked very hard to build up the Pro20 brand.There might be a few issues when the World Cup is hosted next year though, since the ICC call it Twenty20."

For those of us exposed to this form of the game for the first time, it was a revelatory experience. It may appall the purist at times, but on a fairly lively pitch, we witnessed a terrific contest. Charl Langeveldt and Johan van der Wath matched Zaheer in the economy stakes, but the manner in which Sehwag and Mongia played early on ensured that the middle order weren't left with much to do.

The youngsters in the team have copped a lot of flak in recent times, and it was fitting that it was one of them, Dinesh Karthik, who spearheaded the final surge to the target. The game finished well after the scheduled time, but a penultimate-ball finish kept bums on seats right to the end.

The game also showcased one of the game's characters. Reputed to be a pack-a-day smoker, Roger Telemachus's laid-back approach has prevented him from being anything more than a fringe player. He's 34 now, but the way he huffs and puffs, even during a two-over spell, you'd be forgiven for thinking that he was turning out in a veterans' game. In the age of the super-athlete, he's a throwback to cricket's stone age, when some grog and a smoke or two constituted a break. Gatorade? What's that?

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo