T20 Cricket - DLF IPL Clash of the Titans
19th April 2008
Delhi Daredevils Vs Rajasthan Royals
Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
Braving a nasty traffic jam and reaching the stadium about an hour late... I'd missed most of Akshay Kumar's stunts, the much-touted cheerleader hip-swinging and some other stunning performances. The only consolation that cheered me up was the debut of my homeland team, the Rajasthan Royals, and in the offing was a probable win that promised to make my evening woes look insignificant. Comfortably seated by 8.20pm on the chairs that my friends had (thankfully) saved for me, I was cherubic and excited about the 8.30pm commencement of the game. One look around and it became apparent that almost everybody present in my stand, and at the stadium, was rooting for the daredevils. Shrugging it off as an obvious consequence of delhi playing at its home turf, I made up my mind to cheer for the royals anyway. That kind of confidence was backed by my faith in the team and the captaincy of Australian skipper Shane Warne. Then of course my Rajasthani roots, that the three years in Delhi had failed to blur, came calling.
As scheduled, the game kicked off at exactly half past eight. With a less than enthralling opening, it became clear early on in the game that delhi definitely had an upper hand and the royals were in for a tough time. Initially at the edge of my seat, I hailed every four and six that the batsmen so sparingly blessed the few royals supporters with. As the game progressed it became clearly evident that the royals were in for a pasting and my enthusiasm, in sync with the enthusiasm of the small bunch of royals supporters in the ground, fizzled out... and though the cheering didn't stop completely, our vigour definitely toned down.
The abysmal total of the royals at the end of the innings was hardly an inducement to stay on till 11:30 to watch the entire game, and having entered the grounds on a complimentary DDCA pass (thanks to an uncle currently in the US, owing to whose membership of the club I diligently get passes for every event at the kotla), I decided to push off and watch the rest of the match on my television over dinner. The spooky delhi roads at night also helped me take my decision of leaving the grounds at a decent hour. On reaching home, true to all speculation... the royals lost out to the daredevils in a one-sided game by 9 wickets and all my enthusiasm about my home team, and IPL per se, nose-dived. My confidence in the team was shaken and little did I know that it would take three entire matches to be won by the royals thereafter to restore my befuddled faith in the team.
11th May 2008
Rajasthan Royals Vs Delhi Daredevils
Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Jaipur
Similar setting and the same teams, the only thing different about this 33rd match of the IPL was the steady progression of the royals to reach the top slot at the tally tables. A much stronger team now under the effective captaincy of Shane Warne and the humble presence of cricketing veterans like Shane Watson... the sentiment on the ground was optimistic. This was rajasthan's second stint with the team that had raised several questions on its genius in its opening game and the royal hit-back was more than expected. The daredevils were also comfortably placed on the charts, figuring among the top slots, playing second fiddle only to the royals.
The match started with the daredevils batting first and their slow crumbling became evident around the 15th over. Then towards the end, they picked up momentum and dazzled the crowds with a host of fours and sixes. Wrapping up the innings at a decent 156 runs, Warne's boys had no scope to get complacent. After a weak opening and much after delivering IPL's lowest five overs score ever, the royals recovered fast and moved on to conquer the score that delhi had set for them.
Watson showcased another brilliant performance but was eventually declared out after a mammoth 74. The team was marching towards a much-deserved victory and the crowds were clearly getting more ecstatic. The cheerleaders were going ballistic, as so were the team mascots (men masqueraded as mascots, actually). So while 'Moochu Singh' delighted the crowds with his early victory jigs... Mexican waves and boisterous hooting characterized the home crowd. A lot of romping and thumping later... the royals had clinched the game with a neat 3 wicket victory over the once insurmountable daredevils. A perfect ending to a perfect saga of loss, determination and victory of arguably the best team in the IPL so far.
Just because some Rajasthan Royal's players don't find a mention here doesn't mean that their efforts are overlooked or disregarded. Promising players constitute the team and each one of us supporters are continuously observing, and appreciating, their performances.
A word on T20 cricket:
Thrills, chills and state loyalties aside... my views on the T20 format of cricketing essentially remains the same. In this world of instant gratification... we get what we don't mind spending (squandering?) money on. Paisa phek tamasha dekh. Have money... will spend on catching a four hour game that offers lots of fours and sixes here and there, glitzy fireworks, raunchy cheerleaders, celebrity endorsement, team mascots and oodles of sponsor advertising. Flashy teams are fast transforming into brands... while good cricket has taken a backseat. Teams now claim victory owing to the scores mustered up by single run-hitters alone. Previously unthinkable run-rates are being achieved and the concept of cricketing legends is being redefined. Case in point being Shane Watson, who up till now has been accredited with three of the many rajasthan wins and has been awarded the Man of the Match title an equal number of times. Does that make him the new T20 badshah? Subjective issue that only time will give an answer to. Many others like him are fast swooping their teams to easy victories and what worries me is the possible overlook of forthcoming talent, as also the gross neglect of the other maladies that might plague the team. Does that make me a purist? A pseudo-purist for sure.
Then again, my views are my views alone and can be passed off as initial hiccups that have since forever marked the beginning of great new things. I'm fully aware of the possibility that whatever is a con for me, might be a pros for somebody else. In fact I'll refrain from brandishing the whole concept altogether because, and this is an honest confession, I quite enjoy all the T20 games myself. So here's hoping that all my apprehensions about this format of cricket are proven wrong with the passage of time... and it does evolve to become as popular a form of game as did the ODIs (that FYI, have had their own share of misgivings at their inception way back in the 1970s). With that little bit of information in mind... lets sit back, reach for our beers and enjoy the game! Cheers!!
More about Yashika Totlani
Yashika Totlani is a meandering soul who manages to find the idiosyncrasies in everyone and bake it into a story. She freelances on books and movies, seasons and thrills.