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Sailing sixes and bad banners

An umpire watches Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum's furious hitting - not from the other end, for a change

James McGillivray
Ross Taylor slogs, Bangalore Royal Challengers v  Delhi Daredevils, IPL, Port Elizabeth, April 26, 2009

Hello, massive: Taylor goes hell for leather  •  AFP

Team supported
Bangalore Royal Challengers. I had the pleasure of umpiring one of their warm-up games and I resolved to support them from then on. (As an aside, I was also lucky to do a Mumbai Indians practice game last week, so that made my decision for the second game easy too)
Key Performer
Ross Taylor. There have been few innings as destructive in either season of IPL as his knock. He settled himself in and then just unleashed the fury.
One thing I would have changed about the match
Two things actually: If I'd been Kolkata, I would have selected Charl Langeveldt in place of Angelo Matthews. A bowler with Charl's experience and big-match temperament would surely have made it harder in the last few overs. I would also have given Taylor the last four balls in the Royal Challengers' innings to see if he could have scored his hundred - it would have been the fastest in IPL history.
Face-off I relished
I think the biggest was the respective contributions of the two out-of-form Kiwis. Both the innings were excellent, and it was a pity that Brendon McCullum had to end on the losing side.
I never noticed any celebrities on any of the big screens, but the game was very exciting so maybe the cameramen were only interested in the cricket.
Wow moment
Again, two: McCullum's catch off Jacques Kallis was one of the best catches I have ever seen. And every time they replayed it, it got better. Taylor hit one of the biggest sixes I can recall. It sailed high over my head and carried on going for a long, long way (it may still be travelling).
Cheerleader factor
This category has to be shared. The Kolkata girls were more energetic and flashier, but the Bangalore girls definitely tried harder to get the crowd behind their team. Both teams were well polished but I was informed by a friend who actually knows something about dancing that Bangalore definitely had the more difficult routines (something to do with them building a pyramid).
Crowd meter
The ground was a little barren at the start, but considering that it was a mid-day, mid-week game, that was not entirely surprising. There was still a nice vibe, with the majority of the crowd supporting the Royal Challengers. It probably had to do with the free flags, shirts and caps being given out at the gate.
In an abysmal comment on South African sporting prowess, not a single six was caught by the crowd as far as I could tell.
Local hero
Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher were the South African players in the game. When Jacques came out to bat he got a rousing reception. Dale Steyn and Roelof van der Merwe took a very slow stroll around the ground and accommodated the thousands of requests for autographs and photos. Jonty Rhodes was in the ground for the later game, and he also obliged the requesting hordes.
A large variety of music - local, international and Indian- played throughout the game. Local acts DJ Ossewa (Ox-Wagon) and Dozi performed live, to the delight of the crowd.
Banner of the day
It says a lot about the dearth of quality witticisms on show, that "Yuvraj, you make me Singh" was the highlight of the posters on show (in the second game).
Though the game was between two of the bottom sides in the IPL, it was certainly the most entertaining game I've been to so far. The game was only decided in the last two overs, and it was full of twists and turns. It had everything that could be asked of it: brilliant batting, some wonderful and some awful fielding, and a close finish. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Marks out of 10
9. The only thing that would have improved the experience was if the stadium had been packed to capacity. The grass was nice and full but the grandstands were quite empty.
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After a spectacularly unsuccessful career as a player, James McGillivray started umpiring in 2003 and is currently a Premier League umpire in Gauteng. Recently he stood in an IPL warm-up game, and now considers himself a lifelong Bangalore fan. (Keep in mind that he is an umpire, and is liable to change his decision at any time.)