Some might call me lazy .. but I actually wrote half of this last Sunday and was too lazy to finish this 😛
They say that a day spent reading is a day spent well .. I didn’t actually do any reading last Saturday .. but I did witness the best possible display of visual prose and poetry.
For the uninitiated, I was at the Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Let me first tell you that I was seated in the corporate box which was only 5 rows from the boundary line (Yes, I know I did message half my friends in my phone book with the above information, that doesn’t mean I can’t show off anymore 🙂 ) , and the first thing that surprised me was the clarity at the stadium. Every thing was so obvious that I felt perplexed about how could the door-darshan cameras miss the ball so many times in a day.
By the time I had stepped inside the stadium, Gambhir was already cooling his heals in the player’s balcony and Dravid had greeted my arrival with an exquisite cover drive. The stadium seemed pretty small, but I am told that this was the normal stadium size. I guess things do look larger on Television.
Lets take a moment and admire that Cover Drive for a moment. You hear on the commentary all the time that everything was right about the shot. How right, it actually was .. you can appreciate that only when you are seeing it in person. The stillness of the head, the free flow of the bat, the elbow pointing to the cover boundary, the lean forward to get the the pitch of the ball .. pure poetry. I know it all sounds clichéd, but you really have to see it to appreciate it. You can take a picture of any of his shots and put that in a coaching manual. Even Jaffer put one away in the same fashion pretty soon after that, but still .. I preferred the Dravid version, more for the visual beauty than anything else.
Dravid departed soon after that, and to my utter dismay .. so did Laxman and Jaffer. In came Yuvraj Singh in the midst of the loudest cheers that you can imagine. You see on TV people jumping up and down all day … they really do. I do wonder though why do the sound sensors switch off on batsman’s arrival. Yuvraj might not be a local boy, but still he got the same reception that Dravid or Kumble or Uttappa would have received. Its no secret that he is adored by millions because his one day success has not still got him a permanent seat at the Test Level. He probably gets the same treatment at Tests that Laxman gets at One Dayers. While he does seem like a misfit at the test level with his excellent fielding and hard hitting batting, he showed on Saturday that he can adapt very well.
The hard hitting shots were still there, but were played with the discretion of a monk. You could almost see him concentrating on every ball he was facing. The play back to the bowlers was as sweetly timed as was the clean hit through the covers. The sound of ball hitting the meat portion of the bat was to be heard to be believed. Anyone who has played cricket with a leather ball would vouch for the fact that you need not be a powerful player to get the runs, you just need to time the ball and the rest is taken care automatically. Yuvraj showed his entire range of shots, except for the sweep slog for six to mid wicket (that is where I was seated). the best shot of the day was probably the cover drive from Yuvraj.
Ganguly on the other hand, was more restrained for a large portion of the day. He did hit his shots, but it was pretty obvious that he had decided that he would not try to hit a cover drive off the balls that were pitched up to him. All his shots were from the balls that were marginally or largely short pitched. If they pitched the ball on the stumps at the full length area, he didn’t try to hit. Yuvraj usually stepped out to hit back at the bowlers, Ganguly never did. It was rather obvious that he was waiting for a short wide ball when he was batting in 90s. Call it concentration, or call it cutting down your shots to make sure that you get to your 100, either way .. his knock was as entertaining was was Yuvraj’s.
The Bangalore crowd is very appreciative of good cricket, Shoaib Akhtar’s bouncers were also cheered (at least for the time he bowled). He does seem to be trying to get extra attention on himself at all times. When he was fielding near the boundary, People crowded near him to get close to him to get an autograph. The Idiot of the day award has to be given to Yaseer Arafat, who didn’t respond to crowd calls for autographs and turned back and sometime made mocking faces when India were down four wickets. All this went away once Yuvraj unleashed a spectrum of shots in the late afternoon.
There was honest clapping every time a ball was well fielded, but the loudest cheers (yes, louder than Yuvraj’s arrival) were reserved for Yuvraj’s century. Ganguly’s century seemed a little less violent , more of a poetic assault. His timing on the off side was there to be seen. You see him hitting the shots on the off side and most of the time, what comes to my mind is that he only uses the bowler’s pace. But on Saturday, the cover drives and pulls were all reminiscent of the golden Tendulkar Era, though only in patches (No one replaces Tendulkar 🙂 )
All in all, it was a day spent with excellent entertainment in excellent company at the lovely Chinna Swamy stadium, the place where I saw for the first time, a LIVE cricket match, the way it is actually meant to be seen. No disturbance of ads, no one trying to sell me a bike, a tooth paste, a mutual fund scheme, sanitary napkins .. nothing. Cricketers were doing what they do best, play cricket and entertain.
Before I forget, Let me also tell you about the stupid food situation at the stadium.
The normal 10 Rupee chips packets are priced at 20 each, coke bottles also go for double the normal price. Since we were in the corporate box (See, how I bring back your attention to the fact that I was seated in the CORPORATE box for free 😛 ), we were supposed to get free lunch. It wasn’t so free actually, if you don’t just consider money as a criterion. We had to stand in a loooooooong line, sort of like refugees. At the end of the queue, the people distributing food put random stuff in your plates, whether you want them or not. The curry was highly objectionable, the rice was smelly and the parothas were probably prepared at the same time when it was decided that Bangalore would host the test match.
Bottom line –
10 Rupee Lay’s Packet at the stadium – 20 Re.
45 Rupee Coke Bottle – 80 Re.
10 Rupee Coke – 25 Re.
Watching Dravid, Yuvi, Ganguly live in Action – PRICELESS