Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wonderful experience watching Karnataka win Ranji QF against UP

I have ever been to stadium to watch cricket match only four times before - tests of India v Aus in 2008 and India v NZ in 2012. India v Aus warm-up ODI in 2011 WC and Karnataka v Punjab ranji match in 2009 at Mysore. Today was another wonderful crowd experience at M Chinnaswamy stadium, watching Karnataka beat Uttar Pradesh by 93 run in quarter finals. Perfect birthday gift to Rahul S Dravid :)

Reaching Stadium:
Left room at 9AM and caught 9:16AM metro from Indiranagar. The stadium is about 1km from MG Road station. On the way, couple of school girls noticed me wearing Hunger Games t-shirt. Couldn't catch what they said about the series, but overheard one of them liking Harry Potter and hating Chronicles of Narnia. Near the Cubbon park circle, police were overseeing bunch of cycle enthusiasts saying No to Fuel.
Entering Gate 4 (free entry, thanks to Cricinfo for the info provided in live blog on day-1), I saw a father ushering in with his kid after security check and then saw the school girls met by another already waiting in stadium.

I was just about ten minutes late to start of play, but already about 200-300 or more people had turned up. Old cane supported men to school and college students and parents with their kids formed the crowd. I even spotted two groups of foreigners. The crowd built up steadily throughout the morning session. At one point, an elderly gentleman went to next stand only to be spotted by security guard and brought to our stand. But before lunch, security had no answer to building crowd which filled the stand more than 80-90% and spilled over to the next stand. Afterwards, I saw that there were 75 seats in one row and about 25 of them in this stand. More than 100 were in members stand. So overall, crowd count was more than 1500 and close to 2000 I feel. If the match had been in Mysore, it might have been overflowing stadium, but good crowd nonetheless for Bangalore.

Observing nuances of cricket:
Watching live in stadium may not be as clear as watching on TV but crowd experience and observing players from afar are two advantages. We get to see captain, wicket keeper and other seniors in the side setting field, the sign language used for it, automatic fielding position change when left-hand and right-hand batsmen change ends, fielders on edge of boundary are alert and wave hands when they have to move in/out or sideways. Atleast twice I saw gully and mid-off exchanging their fielding spot and once an elaborate personnel change.

View of match

Initially, I was at a loss who was bowling, batting, score, etc. The crowd was still building up and empty seats between. Then as I noticed the LED scorecard on the opposite side (explains the choice of stand for public). It was very detailed - batsmen on crease, bowlers, team score, runs to win, extras. Would often change to show detail of particular batsman or bowler (adding boundaries, no-balls, wides, etc) or when team milestone is reached. And a welcome message too. If only the nearby screen had been used for replays, it would have been truly remarkable.
Update was very fast, never missed before next ball is delivered. Only once there was an error - when RP Singh had come for 10th wicket, he was non-striker as batsmen had crossed when Chawla holed out but was credited the boundary hit by Ankit. It was soon corrected though.

Wicket filled morning session:
Murtaza and Srivastava added quick 32 runs in 6 overs before Vinay stuck. Just few balls before Vinay had added another slip - I wondered why was that when there were hardly any edges. But Vinay proved us wrong, something which repeated afterwards too in the day. Kaif was applauded as well as jeered to the crease. Mithun's run-up was pepped with our shouts and claps as he delivered bouncer to welcome Kaif. And next ball Kaif well struck only to find cover fielder! While the crowd stood and cheered, I felt sad seeing Kaif in such an awful form this season ending with a pair.
Loud cheers went up as Shreyas Gopal and Manish Pandey came after Vinay and Mithun opening spells. Murtaza and Gupta tried to unsettle by hitting a 4 and 6 off Gopal's 1st ball of his first two overs and another boundary in third over, while just missing against Pandey. But Gopal came back to dismiss both of them soon, crowd becoming noisier with each wicket. And when 1st innings hero Parvinder (quite a short lad) was bowled by Mithun offering no-shot, we felt win could be achieved by lunch itself.

As expected, there was rush to get lunch - tomato and mint rice, chilly bhajji and coffee on the menu. After I managed to get tomato rice (30 bucks), I noticed a paper clipping by the gate indicating items on offer and their price. Food was hot and good even without coconut chutney that I missed owing to crowd, perhaps better than I get in my office food court. Free water (those 20L water cans) was provided. Guess they didn't expect such a large crowd as bhajji soon sold out and people had to wait 5-10 minutes for fresh preparations to arrive.
I went down to first row railing to watch UP players having a batting session near the boundary line. And quietly slipped to occupy one of the desired first row seat! The UP tail-enders were smashing the balls to boundary hoardings and some of them crossed the grill into seats (empty stand, we were on first floor) - but kids from members stand took onus of returning them.

7th wicket partnership:
Piyush Chawla and Dwivedi had put on solid show before lunch (Chawla especially impressive against Mithun, scoring 4 boundaries including 3 in one over with a nice controlled upper cut - crowd was appreciate too) and continued after for few over after lunch. Crowd could sense the need of wicket and started one of the famous Bangalore cheers and motivation. Some were asking Kazi (close to our boundary rope) and Manish to up the fielding energy and ridiculed Uthappa for his laziness.
Karnataka players were edgy too, first fielding lapse when an overthrow resulted. Then Mithun didn't dive at third man to save boundary, but kicked a chair near the 12th man seats. Later he would slam the ball onto ground after failing to stop the ball with a dive.
One could credit the crowd when 7th wicket eventually fell. When the partnership was on 57, we pepped up Mithun's over so much that Chawla played out a maiden and last two balls had an edge and play and miss. Then next over, we started the first crowd chant for Shreyas (three balls continuously). Though two boundaries were conceded in that over, wicket arrived next over when Vinay Kumar took a good low catch off Mithun's bowling.

Quick end of innings after anti-climax:
Then Shreyas showed his tail enders demolition skill by dismissing Mishra and Chawla in consecutive overs - getting his first fifer in first class. We had doubt if RP Singh would bat (as he didn't bat in 1st inn and didn't bowl in 2nd inn) but he bravely came out to bat. Some in the crowd jeered him as No-ball. Ankit and RP started hitting out. Vinay replaced Mithun amidst call for Uthappa to bowl.
After drinks break (which got boos from crowd) Vinay got the stumps to walk and tumble after RP missed a swing. Everyone stood up to applaud and shout, Karnataka players zoomed inside including Sharath with his right hand slinged. But the umpire in middle called for replays and turned out to be No-Ball!!! Much to amusement of UP players and boos from crowd. Crowd rooted for Shreyas to get his sixth but Vinay eventually hit the stumps again and this time umpire only shook hands instead of calling for replays.

Karnataka players were jubilant obviously and responded to our cheers by clapping overhead. Soon both teams shook hands and there was some sort of presentation. Mithun got MoM award I think, he in black floppy hat got a special shake of hands. There was team photo shoot and then Shreyas got a special one for himself with stumps in right hand and ball in left hand. Was joined by Mithun later.

Jubilant celebrations
Special Moments:
  • Mithun kicking chair when he failed to stop boundary
  • Good catches by Vinay and Nair, direct hit from long-off, Shreyas stopping a boundary and thankfully no dropped catches
  • Spotting Praveen Kumar (shaved and all) and Mohammad Kaif on boundary line. PK nodded his head and Kaif waived hands to acknowledge our cheers
  • RP Singh called No-ball when he came out to bat but survived a bowled on No-ball!
  • Crowd appreciating UP's milestones and Chawla's shots
  • Crowd taking their pics and some selfies to record their moments in ground
  • Chanting Shreyas Shreyas, Mithun Mithun, calling for Uthappa to bowl, Sharath as Mandya express
  • While leaving the stadium, overheard a dad telling his son - 'We saw ranji this time, we will visit for tests next time' and then seeing members taking pics against Wall honoring Rahul Dravid. 
Praveen Kumar walking by

Mohammad Kaif

India drew that test against Aus and won the series in 2008
India won the test and series against NZ in 2012
India won the warm-up against Aus and went onto win WC
Karnataka advanced to next round in Mysore and reached Ranji Finals, almost wining the trophy
Here's hoping Karnataka will win the trophy this time :)

I regretted two things:
  • Forgetting to take my camera to stadium - many had got theirs and had opportunity to take good pictures
  • Not owning a smart phone - could have followed other scores and taken better pics than shown here


ರಾಜೇಶ್ ನಾಯ್ಕ said...

Good account. Enjoyed reading it.
Rajesh Naik.

abhishek singh said...

Please change the font color. Difficult reading.
Want to read it...!!!

Sundeep said...

Thanks Rajesh:)

@Abhishek, I don't know if you had some browser problems or something like that... This font and color I use regularly and there is no readability issues...

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