Sunday, December 23, 2012
Here is my fan following report on the India v England, second Twenty20, played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on December 22nd, 2012
The Mumbai stadium's maiden Twenty20 international was an affair to remember
Choice of game
The Wankhede Stadium was hosting its first Twenty20 international which was also the first India match I was watching live at a ground. The series was set up nicely by India's emphatic win in Pune the day before. If India were to win this match and the next two against Pakistan, they would have become the No. 1 T20 team. My prediction was an India victory since the team had been playing well in the shorter formats.
England captain Eoin Morgan has already built a reputation for himself as a dangerous player in the limited-overs formats. He plays the sort of finishing role for England that Michael Bevan used to play for Australia, and now Michael Hussey.
One thing I'd have changed
I wanted Eoin Morgan's wicket - bowled, caught, run out - off the last ball of match, rather than have to watch him hit it for a six out of the ground. I would have also liked to have seen more of Virat Kohli, given the aggressiveness in his batting and the kind of boundary shots he played. It was a delight to watch him bat in full flow. I could see the attacking intent in his batting from his stance. He certainly looked determined to turn on the heat against England but the innings was unfortunately cut short.
Face-off I relished
Since several stars were being rested, it was a chance for players like Ashok Dinda, Parwinder Awana and even Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped from the Test side, to cement their places in the side.
Apart from Morgan's last-ball six hit, Yuvraj's three wickets were impressive in the match. When the English openers got going and India couldn't break the stand, the crowd asked for Yuvraj to be given a chance. When he was finally given a bowl, he dismissed Michael Lumb off his second ball. The expectations increased when he came to bowl his second over, and once again he obliged by trapping Luke Wright plumb in front of the wicket. In his final over, he managed to get rid of the dangerous Alex Hales.
Since my seat was in the North Stand near the sight screen, there was always a fielder present near the boundary rope. We got a close look at Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Wright, Stuart Meaker, Awana, Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma. Indian fans never miss a chance to call or heckle any fielder who comes to the boundary, and it was sporting of Dernbach and Wright to acknowledge the crowd with smiles. Ashwin gave us a thumbs-up after being welcomed him with "Vanakkam!" which is "hello" in Tamil. The crowd also told Awana that they'd forgive him for dropping a catch if he took a wicket.
Shot of the day
The last-ball six hit by Morgan, which reminded me of the famous Javed Miandad hit in Sharjah in 1986, was the shot of the day. The entire stadium was standing, hoping for a win for India. My colleague was waiting to record the moment on his phone but all he captured was the six out of the park. Last-ball sixes have become a regular feature in cricket since the introduction of T20s. Who can forget Dwayne Smith hitting Ben Hilfenhaus for three sixes in the last over to seal a win for Mumbai Indians against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede earlier this year?
As the match progressed, the stadium slowly filled up. The only empty stands I saw were near the Vijay Merchant Pavilion side. There were three-to-four-year-old kids dressed in Indian jerseys with faces painted in the Indian tricolor. Their parents hoisted them up on their shoulders and made them cheer for the Indian team. The Mexican wave started early, from the second over the match, and gained momentum as the Indian innings progressed, particularly when Dhoni and Raina were batting in full flow.
There were the usual colourful Lasith Malinga wigs around, but the best one was from a spectator on the second level of the North Stand who wore the mask of a grumpy old man but was dancing and rejoicing when India were batting. He was cheered by the crowd in his stand and also caught the attention of those in other stands.
Surprisingly there was no music or mid-innings entertainment, nor were there any cheerleaders, who could have boosted the spirits of the Indian bowlers. We got to see Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Navjot Sidhu, and Sourav Ganguly when they were walking back to their commentary box positions. They got cheers and duly acknowledged them.
ODIs or Twenty20s
I prefer T20s because the fast-paced action and thrilling moments are packed into three hours like a Hollywood movie. There are enough ups and downs during the three hours to make the experience enjoyable, and like a movie, the match is conveniently played in the evenings.
Banner of the day
"Unleash the Helicopter Shot", "If Dhoni plays well, India sleeps well" and "England, here's the way to the Airport".
Practice makes you perfect
I reached the stadium almost an hour and a half early, and saw England practising on the field. India came out after some time. I wish they had come out to practise earlier or at the same time as England. I saw a few Indian bowlers practise hitting one stump and wondered whether they could have hit that stump had Alastair Cook been standing in front of it with a bat.
Marks out of ten
10 for the close finish. The better team won.
Link to the article on ESPNCricinfo's website -
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
This article about the IPL Twenty20 Cricket Tournament Match between Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Dardevils played at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on 16th April Evening was first published on ESPNcricinfo Website on April 17, 2012.
No satisfaction in a quickie
What a bummer when a highly anticipated match between two heavyweights turns out to be a dud
Choice of game
Both the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Daredevils have a lot of star players, like Sachin Tendulkar, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Richard Levi, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor. I thought the match would be an exciting contest between two evenly balanced teams, with loads of hitting, fours, sixes and wickets.
Also, this was the first IPL match I watched live in a stadium. I went with 12 friends to make the experience more exciting and enjoyable.
Mumbai, because they are my home team.
Man of the Match Shahbaz Nadeem, the Daredevils' left-arm spinner, bowled a tight spell opening spell in which he took two wickets and ensured Mumbai never got to a start. Another standout performer was Mumbai captain Harbhajan Singh, for while he was at the crease, it looked like Mumbai would put up a competitive total.
One thing I'd have changed
I'd have played both Tendulkar and Malinga. Mumbai didn't look like the champion team they are supposed to be without their two star players. Tendulkar's presence makes a huge difference to the team and the spectators. Get well soon, Sachin. We want to see you playing for Mumbai in the next match.
The Mexican wave around the stadium was exciting.
For the Daredevils, Morne Morkel and Pietersen fielded near the boundary where I was sitting. And for Mumbai, it was Levi. It is very easy to recognise these tall players even from a distance.
Levi ran to his left and dived to save what looked like a certain boundary from a Sehwag cut shot, keeping it to a single. That was the fielding save of the match.
Shot of the day
Only one shot went skywards in the match, played by Sehwag, and it ended up being a catch at long-on for Levi.
The stands were packed and the support for Mumbai was excellent. A spectator seated a few rows ahead of me seemed to be enjoying every moment of the match irrespective of which team was doing better. He was blowing on the bugle every now and then and dancing on his seat. He celebrated boundaries as well as wickets, and it was nice to see him enjoy the match that way.
The DJ tried to cheer up Mumbai and boost their morale by playing "Yahan Ke Hum Sikander" from the movie Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
During the mid-innings break, some fans got the opportunity to take catches off Mumbai batsmen and to keep the ball they caught.
ODIs or Twenty20s
I prefer Twenty20s because the game is completed in three hours, unlike ODIs and Tests which occupy your whole day. You can watch a T20 after office hours, and thus enjoy a good evening out too. And there is entertainment guaranteed in T20 via hits to the fence.
Banner of the day
There was a banner that looked like a dartboard. It said a prize of Rs10,000 will be given to anyone who hits the target. It was probably an incentive offered to Mumbai's batsmen to go out and play their shots and hit the target. But unfortunately, that didn't happen.
TV v stadium
I'd recommend watching in stadium any time, especially if you go with a big group of people. You cannot relive the excitement, the buzz around the ground, the energy, the crowd's enthusiasm, the wacky humour associated with a certain player or a team if you are watching the match on TV. A three-hour match in a packed stadium is as good as watching a blockbuster movie in a theatre.
It's probably too early to judge, but after this match I recalled the words of IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla before the tournament. He said the fifth season of the IPL was probably going to be the best so far because the governing council had instructed stadium curators to prepare 160-run pitches so that the crowds will get entertained by all the fours and sixes. Perhaps the curators are sending him a message to not tell them what to do.
Marks out of 10
6, mainly because of the experience of watching the match live in a stadium. I would have scored it better had the match been more competitive, had Mumbai scored more runs, and had Sachin and Malinga played.