Monday, December 10, 2007

First Time Lucky

My second post on this blog and the only one on cricket had ended on the hopeful note that I would be able to see the silken drives and the lofty sixes of one Sourav Ganguly. I just meant on TV. This weekend though, he made sure that I had something to treasure for my whole life.

Day 1 and courtesy Akshat, the two of us found ourselves seated right next to the dressing room as Shoaib Akhtar charged in to bowl to Jaffer. The met department had got its prediction bang on as Bangalore put on its best weather after rains had left the city damp and cold on Thursday and Friday. It was my first time in any stadium and I was trying to soak it all in. By lunch, India were reeling at 60/4. Dada and Yuvi were at the crease and we weren't expecting much. What transpired post lunch, though, was a treat to the eyes. Yuvraj cut and drove with ferocity as Ganguly played second fiddle with the occasional drive and cut relying mainly on his timing, which, remained exquisite as ever. Yuvraj, who at the moment couldn't possibly put a foot wrong, played a belligerent innings, showing utter disdain for the Pakistani bowling attack. He raced on to his century with a sparkling drive as the crowd erupted. Yuvi roared in delight and hugged his partner on the pitch. Ganguly, after his nervous 80s (he was stuck on 82 for the longest time) and nervous 90s finally reached his landmark too, though his celebrations were more sedate. Records kept tumbling at the Chinnaswamy Stadium as the two put on a 300 run partnership putting paid to any Pakistani hopes of scuttling out the Indians cheaply after the rather disastrous start. Yuvi finally got out, but not before he had won over the crowd with his strokeplay. Dada was still there and I was looking forward to the next day.

If the first day was memorable, the second even bettered it. This time, we were amongst the crowds. Stand A, first floor, above Long On. As Dada started milking the Pakistani bowling attack, which, without Akhtar lacked any real bite, I just had the feeling that this could be a big day. Soon he was joined by Pathan as the two southpaws started to make the most of the featherbed pitch. The atmosphere, to do a Ravi Shastri, was 'electric'. Imagine 40,000 odd people chanting DADAAAAAAA, DADAA in unison as he approached one milestone after another and you would start to get an idea of what I mean. The Mexican Waves kept happening every now and then as the crowd went berserk, blowing the bugles, beating the drums, cheering every single run and (forgive me for being influenced by the language used by the commentators) 'dancing in the aisles'. I, along with my friends, was having the time of my life. Ganguly unleashed his glorious cover drives and square cuts, even as Pathan made him run a few sharp singles. He reached his 150 and Pathan completed his half century as the day kept getting better.

For me, going to the stadium meant dispelling one major myth. Except for the commentary, watching a match in a stadium is way better than sitting at home and watching it on TV. No, I'm not even talking about the atmosphere and the excitement. Even in terms of the view, it's far better. One, you get to see the entire field and not just the pitch. Two, whosoever says that one cant see anything without binoculars, is lying. At least from where we were sitting, each drive and push was clearly visible. Sure you don't get to notice the thin edges and judge the LBWs but hey, there's the giant screen which also shows the replays. So you've got it all in a stadium. And this was a Test Match. I can't even imagine what a D/N ODI would be like!

He was visibly nervous and he did take a few overs more than expected to get there. And unlike the last day, he didn't reach this landmark with a boundary. It was a push to Mid Off. The anticipation, the build up, the slight tension which preceded it and the release which followed it, the delight and the little punch in the air was worth every bit. Dada raised his arms and the crowd stood up, shouting at the top of their voices, clapping, making noise in any possible way, almost bringing down the roof. Sure, it was not Perth. Sure the pitch didn't have any demons. And yes, the bowling was mediocre at best. But to me, none of it mattered. It was an innings of poise and elegance. He gave us all that we had hoped to see. The cut between gully and point, the drive to mid off and the stepping out to hoist Kaneria over Long On and Long Off. Ganguly was living a dream and I was there while he scripted it.

He was out after adding another thirty odd runs and breaking a few more records but Pathan was still there, nearing his hundred. But soon he found himself batting with the number eleven Ishant Sharma, needing another six runs to get to his maiden hundred. The crowd cheered as the tailender successfully blocked out four deliveries to give Pathan a shot at his feat. The first ball from Kaneria in the next over was hoisted high over Mid On and the crowd erupted once more. The third century of the innings. The fairytale had come to a perfect end.

The weather, the crowd, the noise and the cricket. Everything was just perfect. We came out of the stadium on a high. For once I came to realise the power of this game. For two days, all I was looking forward to was going to the stadium. A minor bike accident on Saturday night wasnt deterrent enough. Inside the stadium, it doesnt really matter whether you hero worship a Dravid or a Ganguly. You root for the player who's playing good. And if he happens to be your favourite and if he happens to have found the form of his life and more so if it's your first time around, it becomes that much more special.

This one's to Dada and his dadagiri!


Shreyas said...

i dont think dada's silken drives deserted him ever, his major asset is grit and determination which has found its way back. it had gone missing a year ago, maybe captaincy taking too much of his mind, could be many reasons...
as for the experience its awesome, and i think tht electrifying atmosphere is more prevalent in test matches, cant see tht happening in ODIs as much

and ofcourse dada scored a double ton, i mean WTF :)

Nishant said...

hey i also witnessed dada's double century from the same A-stand... i think the best view in the ground..Sun also not making any discomfort for the full match with the stand in the shades for the full day.

shravan said...

dude, frankly a kind of let down for me, as I witnessed the day's proceedings with you.. the post has a lack of consistency since you sprinkled your feelings(the better parts) with normal routine stuff tht happened at the ground. I was looking forward to some kind of stuff straight from the heart like your 1st post on Dada.

For me the best part of the match was the grin on Dada's face when Yuvi completed his century, he could relate tht with his own fight, a straight 'f** u' to the selectors.

anonymous coward said...

ever since we came to bangalore more than a year ago, I had wanted to watch a match in the stadium. I dont think that a better display could be possible (both in terms of seats and the batting :P). you have to be on the ground, a part of that cheering crowd, egging dada on for a six ... yeh feeling tv par kabhi nahi aa sakti. next agar koi match hua ... to fir jana hai1!