Wednesday, May 8, 2013

'Please don't leave cricket, Sachin. KKR didn't really show up, but Tendulkar did. What's to complain

This is my 4th article for ESPN Cricinfo. It's IPL T20 Tournament Game Review between Mumbai Indians vs  Kolkatta Knight Riders played at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on 7th May, 2013 and published on website on 8th May 

Choice of game
Kolkata Knight Riders' is among the most inspirational stories in the IPL. Given their history, nobody would have expected them to do well in 2012, but they scripted a magnificent turn-around to win the title. I badly wanted to see a champion team in action, so I booked my tickets for this game.
Team supported
I was backing KKR to win, since that would have kept them in contention and kept the tournament interesting.

Key performer
Sachin Tendulkar 48 runs off 28 deliveries that included eight boundary hits. His batting might shows no signs of waning even at the age of 40. His opening stand with Dwayne Smith for 93 runs formed the base for Mumbai to pile on a challenging total.
One thing I'd have changed about the match
Sachin Tendulkar was batting beautifully on 48 and the crowd was expecting him to get to his half-century when Rajat Bhatia was bowling. The chants of "Sachin, Sachin" could be heard around the Wankhede, but he was bowled by Bhatia. I would have liked to see him score more. That would have been memorable and would have given us something to remember for ages.
Face-off I relished
I was eagerly looking forward to Sunil Narine v Sachin Tendulkar since Narine had dismissed Tendulkar the last time these two teams played. I was also interested in Narine v Dwayne Smith, who has been the answer to Mumbai's opening woes. Of course, this face-off did not pan out as Sunil Narine was preserved for the final overs. L Balaji bowled an economical spell to the two Mumbai opening batsmen but he did not get support from the opposite end.
Wow moment
The smart catch by Eoin Morgan at deep midwicket to dismiss Rohit Sharma made me go 'Wow'. Morgan caught the ball near the boundary, but realised that the momentum would make him over-balance. So he immediately threw the ball high up in the air before stepping over, then regained his balance and completed the catch.
Close encounter
Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga fielded near the boundary for a while. Whenever Pollard and Malinga walked near the edge, there were huge cheers from the crowd welcoming them. Both were kind enough to wave back to the crowd. There was also a banner put up by a fan urging Pollard to display some Caribbean style dance moves.
Shot(s) of the day
The stand-out shots were Tendulkar's five boundaries off McLaren in the fourth over of the game, which brought the crowd alive. Another outstanding stroke was Mitchell Johnson's six off the last ball of the Mumbai innings. The crowd was chanting - "We want six, we want six" - and Johnson obliged by thrashing the ball over the long-off boundary.
Crowd meter
Though the stadium was packed, I felt the buzz was lacking. Mumbai's players had the loudest cheers reserved for them by the crowd.

Fancy dress index
In the North Stand, I could spot a group of spectators wearing the Mumbai jersey, along with Anna Hazare type Gandhian caps on. There were an entire range of Malinga wigs in different colors like blue and yellow. All of this made the game look like a carnival and not just another T20 game.
The music started as early as 6.30 pm, and got the crowd excited and ready for the game. The cheerleaders from both the teams duly joined in by entertaining the crowd with their acrobatic moves. The DJ took responsibility to start the Mexican wave from the fourth over of the match. The music continued till 10 in the night. There was thunderous applause from the crowd during the presentation ceremony when Tendulkar was announced as Man of the Match.
Banner of the day
"Take 20 years of my Life, but please don't leave cricket. Love you Sachin" - this was on a banner in our stand.
Full marks to the organisers for living up to the crowd's expectations. The quality of cricket dished out by both the teams was good too, though I'd have preferred to see a better fight from KKR.

Marks out of 10 
I'd give this game 7 points. This is probably the last time I'll see Tendulkar play at the Wankhede Stadium. It is not clear if he may play the IPL tournament next year. So I will savour this moment and tell stories of it for ages to come. This game's tickets were planned and booked online well in advance. So everything worked out just fine.

Please find below the link to the article on ESPN Cricinfo Website -

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The summer holidays entertainment package - It’s just another way to describe the IPL

This is my 3rd fan following article for ESPNCricinfo. This article is a review of the IPL T20 Game between Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore played at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on 27th April, 2013.
Choice of game
I wanted to see the Don Bradman of Twenty20 cricket, Chris Gayle. I had also never seen Sachin Tendulkar in a match at the stadium. Mumbai Indians had other star players in Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga in their team while the Royal Challengers Bangalore had AB De Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli. The chance to see all these players in action compelled me to go.
As a Mumbai supporter, I wanted my team to win a closely fought game in which Gayle would play a good knock.

Key performer
Even though Dwayne Smith scored a half-century and took two wickets, it was Dhawal Kulkarni's three top-order wickets that clinched the win for Mumbai.
One thing I'd have changed
I would have reversed the lbw decision given to Tendulkar, because he was batting really well and had laid the foundation for a big score.
Face-off I relished
It was fun to watch Malinga bowl against Dilshan and Gayle. Mitchell Johnson bowled Gayle a few short ones and the batsman responded with a six.
Wow moment
Harbhajan Singh did the Gangnam Style dance once he got Gayle out caught by Ambati Rayudu at the boundary. The entire crowd got up and celebrated.
Close encounter
RP Singh, Jaidev Unadkat and Chris Gayle fielded near the boundary for the Royal Challengers and Kulkarni, Harbhajan and Tendulkar for Mumbai. The biggest cheers were reserved for Tendulkar, who dived to save a boundary from Arun Karthik off Harbhajan's bowling. Johnson's six off Ravi Rampaul came to our side of the boundary.

Shot of the day
In the first over of the match, Tendulkar hit Rampaul for a boundary that flew between keeper and first slip. We watched with bated breath till it crossed the rope.
Crowd meter
The stadium was full. There were a few Royal Challengers supporters in the stands, but most of the spectators had come to cheer Mumbai. When Pollard walked in to bat, there was a huge cheer. Virat Kohli didn't receive any such welcome when he came in to bat, because of his having run out Rayudu during Mumbai's innings. In fact, during the presentation ceremony, Kohli was booed by the spectators.
Hardship factor
Compared to my earlier experiences, this time round it was easy getting into the stadium since I had tickets for Garware Pavilion Stand, which is one of the best stands at the Wankhede. I didn't have to queue up to get inside the stadium nor push through a crowd while getting out. From our seats, we could get a 360-degree view of the stadium.
Fancy-dress index
I saw a spectator sporting a M.A.R.D (Men Against Rape and Discrimination) moustache. He also wore a face mask of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at the back of his head. Another spectator had a scary look with his hair raised and a scary face mask. Someone tried to look like Gayle by tying a black handkerchief over his hair.
Iron Man and Spiderman entertained the crowd before the match, dancing to Bollywood songs.

ODIs or Twenty20s
I prefer T20s currently since they are three-hour long entertainment packages that can be enjoyed on weekend evenings in a stadium along with a huge crowd. The IPL is just not a cricket tournament; it's a summer holidays entertainment package to look forward to every year.
Banner of the day
There was an "IPL Come to Goa" banner. On seeing it, my friend remarked that if the IPL had a team from Goa, it could be called "Panjim Panthers" and if it performed badly, it could be renamed "Go Goa Gone".
TV v Stadium
The experience of watching a match at the stadium is more enjoyable than on TV, because you not only get to see the match, but also enjoy the crowd, the excitement, the entertainment, the chants and the slogans. Time flies when you're in the stadium.
Marks out of ten
6, because it was a one-sided match. There was virtually no fight from the Royal Challengers.

Here’s the link to the report on ESPN Cricinfo Website