Choice Of game
I'm not a resident of Rajasthan, but since I had literally nothing to do, I decided to take a trip to Jaipur - to get away from the Delhi heat. Well, let's just say I got lucky. I had tickets to Rajasthan Royals' game against Mumbai Indians. I didn't feel like going (having been to five games already), but since it was the last league game of the IPL 2012, I decided not to skip it.
Born and raised in New Delhi, my loyalties lie naturally with Delhi Daredevils. So going for this non-Daredevils game, I didn't have a clue who to support. The result of this game was inconsequential - Mumbai Indians had already secured a spot in the playoffs and Royals had missed out on the race after they lost to Deccan Chargers a few days earlier.
I had enjoyed watching Royals play in Delhi, and on television, and liked how they played all their games with diligence and humility. I am also fond of their strong batting line-up (Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Owais Shah, Ashok Menaria). So I went to this match hoping Royals would win, and Dravid, whose prospects of playing next year are slim, would finish on a good note.
Dwayne Smith. He usually doesn't open, and his highest score in seven innings for Mumbai Indians before this match was 24. But Sunday was different. He made 87 off 58 balls, scoring 58 of the runs in boundaries. It was great to watch him work his magic live and these kinds of things have made the IPL fun to watch in stadiums.
Shot of the day
Smith swept Ajit Chandila for two consecutive sixes that went long - 92 and 103 metres. The first one was blasted over midwicket without any fuss and the second was powered over the long-on boundary. Even though the majority of the spectators in the stadium supported Royals, they seemed to switch sides each time Tendulkar or Smith cracked a boundary.
The DJ at the stadium did his best to entertain the crowd with the latest numbers and the IPL trumpet. Be it English or Hindi, the '60s or '90s, the crowd greeted each tune with excitement. There were also the team songs of Royals and Mumbai Indians, and of course the IPL theme song which echoed during the strategic timeouts. However, local rules state that music can't be played at such public venues after 10pm. By the time the Mumbai Indians innings started, the DJ's job was done and the crowd went quiet.
Sachin Tendulkar fielded below my seat for the majority of the Royals' innings, and his stature was acknowledged widely with fans screaming "SACCCCHIIIIIIIINNNNN" and waving towards him each time he turned his head even by a degree. He responded to their greetings, by turning back, and smiling and waving at the spectators, making their day.
Nothing like home
I have been fortunate to watch five of Daredevils' eight home games this season. Watching a game at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium does not, by any standards, match up to the Kotla. The lights, the atmosphere, the music, the crowd, the flags, the enthusiastic MC, the crazy DJ, the loudspeakers, the catchy chants, the homely stadium, all bring the Kotla to life. And I saw none of that in Jaipur yesterday.
Surprisingly low. The weather was good and it was a relaxed Sunday evening. I expected the crowd to make a lot of noise and see off Royals' team with loads of enthusiasm. Those expectations weren't met.
The game became one-sided the moment Mumbai Indians got Dravid, Rahane, Watson and Binny. I expected Royals to take the total past 170, but their slow batting didn't allow that. The game had its highlights, though - Smith's 87, his 13 boundaries, Dhawal Kulkarni's bowling and the Tendulkar-Smith partnership.
Marks out of 10
Seven. I deduct one for the slow, and almost boring, batting. Another, for the relatively dull atmosphere. And one more since I didn't get the exciting finish I wanted in the final game of the league stage.