After watching IPL games during the 2011 season and the 2012 season, I had been getting inspired to watch one game live. It helped that I happen to be in one of the cities involved in the IPL, with Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers Bangalore as the home team. During the 2011 season, everyone was talking about the quick demise of the IPL. But looking back, the dip in IPL enthusiasm in 2011 was probably due to the World Cup 2011 euphoria and the fact that IPL started right after the World Cup Finals and people were fed up with Cricket. This year, it appears (I could be wrong) that the audience is back. Most of the matches seem to have almost full stadiums.
After multiple rounds of talks with various colleagues, I finally managed to round up 5 other people who also wanted to experience an IPL match. We decided to try for the April 25th match between RCB and Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The earlier match between RCB and CSK was a superhit with RCB scoring 200+ runs (in 20 overs!) and CSK chasing it down and winning with runs off the final ball. We booked our tickets in the McDowells Best View stand (costing 1650 Rupees per ticket) and I noticed that soon after the earlier RCB-CSK match, this stand was sold out. Whereas when I booked our tickets, there were over 160 seats left in this section of the stadium.
The match was at 8PM and it was a very hot and sunny stretch for the few days before the match. The day of the match, at around lunch time, the clouds started gathering and very soon it started raining. We still kept our hopes up and in the rain, drove to a nearby Micro-Brewery (Toits) in Indira Nagar for a round of beer. The beer, though tasty, was not chilled and beer which is not fully chilled is not beer in my opinion. Anyway, it was fun to spent time with colleagues.
At around 6PM, we walked the short distance to the nearby Metro station. I hadnt travelled in the Bengaluru Metro before. I was very impressed with the facilities and the trains. Since it was raining, while the train was taking its elevated route, we could see the various traffic jams down below. In around 12 minutes, we reached Mahatma Gandhi Road station. It was still raining and the crowds were out in full force for the match. It took us a while to get to Gate No:9 of the Chinnaswamy Stadium. I was surprised to see that everyone, like us, were enthusiastically entering the stadium, though it was raining quite heavily. We were all expecting a match! Talk about optimism.
We were in our seats (chairs, rather), by 7.20PM. The crowd was building up. We had a decent view of the ground and the pitch. Right next to us, a group of CSK fans in yellow T-shirts were present. I saw many kids who must have probably forced their parents to join in as well. Parts of the ground and the pitch itself were covered at this time.
Suddenly, it stopped raining. Within minutes the ground staff started clearing the pitch. The super-soppers came out (two of them) and were doing their job. Within 30 minutes, covers were removed and the ground and pitch were made ready. The players then came out on to the ground to warm up. Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, Albie Morkel etc. all got huge cheers. We could see Zaheer Khan and Muthiah Muralitharan practicing their bowling. By this time, the crowd was excited and there were lots of cheering going on. We could also see that mobile camera being pulled in all directions for closeup views. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni came out, the stadium erupted into huge cheers. The dude is indeed very popular. And why wouldnt he be, after that majestic (innings and) six off the last ball in the World Cup 2011.
I remarked to my colleague that the rains did a good thing and cooled the air for us (little did I know the jinx this will turn out to be :-)). The toss happened soon after. CSK won the toss and elected to bat first. The match was to start at 9PM now (instead of the original 8PM) and we were told that there would be a full match. Awesome!
At 8.55PM, 5 minutes before CSK openers would have come out to bat, it started to rain again. The covers came back on. We all sat around till 9.45PM and at that point, we collectively decided that the chances of there being a game were very slim as it was still raining and even if the rain had stopped right then and there, the ground staff would have had to get the ground ready again, the players would have had to warm up again and the whole process would have had to be repeated. We managed to get out of the stadium and walk to the Metro station relatively easily (most of the crowd was still waiting in the stadium, hoping for atleast a 5-over game).
The positive things out of this experience:
– Got a peek at the stadium atmosphere
– Got to spent some fun moments with colleagues (at the Micro-Brewery, during the Metro ride, and at the stadium)
– Got back home earlier than expected, on a rainy day.
Is this the end of my IPL watching aspirations? Never! I will try again (and again (and again)) ….