Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No satisfaction in a quickie

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.

Team supported
Mumbai, because they are my home team.

Key performer
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.

Wow moment
The Mexican wave around the stadium was exciting.

Close encounter
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.

Crowd meter
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.

The low-scorers
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.

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