Choice of game
This game was a no-brainer. My first opportunity in 20 years to watch one at a stadium, the first match in Hyderabad in more than a year, a game involving the IPL 2009 champions, the ability to buy tickets online or at a location close by - what more could one ask for?
Deccan. Somerset have a few proven stars like Justin Langer and Marcus Trescothick, but the Chargers have the likes of Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, VVS Laxman, RP Singh, Chaminda Vaas and Fidel Edwards. Somerset had their work cut out for them.
The Chargers got to 150-plus run mainly due to a good innings from VVS, who was in great touch. His strokes down the ground were just awesome. RP Singh started off with two wickets to make it interesting.
One thing I'd have changed about the match
Twenty20s are all about excitement, and this game was no different - a great crowd, good batting, good bowling, some very good fielding, and a nailbiting last ball finish. It would have been perfect if the home team had won.
Face-off I relished
Trescothick had scored a couple of boundaries in the first over and looked to be in great touch. In comes RP. Trescothick was raring to go, but RP kept him on a leash for the first four balls. Trescothick looked frustrated. The fifth ball was a bit wide and he cut it for a nice boundary. The last ball was a bit short, Trescothick got a thick edge, the ball ballooned in the air, and Gilchrist did the rest.
Six balls, five runs and three wickets was the equation. After three balls, the big scoreboard read W 0 W. Scott Styris had almost managed to snatch the game away. But at the end of the over, it read W 0 W 4 0 4. Alphonso Thomas was the hero with 30 runs and a couple of wickets.
RP got a lot of love from the crowd, especially after his two quick wickets.
At one point a paper airplane glided nicely from up in the stands to the long-off boundary near Venugopal Rao. The crowd tried to interact with him, but Venu coolly picked up the airplane and threw it out of the playing area.
It was interesting to see Harmeet Singh come out to bat for the last ball of the innings with no pads on!
Shot of the day
It was the beginning of over number three. Gilchrist, on two off two, was being outplayed by VVS (13 off 10). Gilchrist played a couple of lofted drives for boundaries. The stadium announcer got the crowd going with "We want sixer" chants, and Gilly obliged by swinging it over the midwicket boundary for the first six of the match. He caught up with VVS, with 16 runs in the over.
The near-capacity crowd - 30,000-plus - was with the home team all the way. Every time the PA suggested the Mexican wave, the crowd obliged. The chants of "Deccan - Chargers" were deafening. Surprisingly there were not a lot of banners, possibly because of security concerns. Somerset got a good dose of what it takes to play international cricket in noisy, pro-home-team stadiums in India.
Surprisingly, very few people had Deccan Chargers ensembles on, or had their faces painted like in international games. There were a lot of Indian flags, though.
Probably the weakest link. The cheerleaders were almost non-existent, mainly because they did not have any allegiance to the teams. Neither they nor the PA announcers could engage the crowd between overs and wickets.
The fireworks for wickets and sixes reminded me of home runs in baseball.
IPL v Champions League?
Since the IPL has more international players, the crowd relates to the teams better. Matches between neutral teams don't hold all that much interest, since the spectators cannot relate to the players. Thomas was the hero, but who knows anything about him?
Marks out of 10
I would give it 8, primarily due to non-cricketing factors at the stadium. It was an excellent cliffhanger, with the momentum moving both ways. The crowd was live, the cricket was good, there were some good hits, and some excellent catches. Three-hundred-plus runs, 18 wickets, eight sixes and 33 fours in 40 overs says it all.