We had booked tickets for IPL match between Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI to be held on Saturday, May 17. (Yeah, I’m late again in posting it here.) Going by the quality of the matches played so far and the fact that this was a very crucial match for both the teams for qualifying for the semis, this surely promised to be a high-voltage drama. I was very excited as this was the first cricket match that I was about to see in person. But even my wildest imaginations could not have prepared me for the day that was in store for all of us,
So we left for the venue a good 3.5 hours before the scheduled time. There were five of us: Aman, Anuranjan, Gauri, Neha and me. Some more were to meet us at the venue itself. After having a quick bite at Wengers’ in CP, we proceeded to Kotla. After going through numerous security checks, finally we were there climbing the stairs to third-tier. The excitement was building up and every roar of the crowd made those 2 minutes on the way to the top all the more unbearable. And finally we were there on the top: the view of the flood-lit ground was mesmerizing to say the least. Though from the distance, it was not easy to identify everybody , but some like Mcgrath, Srisanth were most quite easily recognizable… Aman, the most experienced of us all, guided us to the best seats that he could locate. And I was still savoring the moment and relishing every bit of it. Bulb too had joined us there, other members of the group were lost elsewhere and after some phone calls, we decided it’d be impossible to locate each other.
Now the drama started unfolding.. Even before the first ball was bowled, the sky started turning overcast.. And perhaps even before we could start praying, the rain started coming down heavily and that too with a heavy thunderstorm.. And with in minutes, the covers were on the field and we were completely drenched in rain.. But yup, it was a lovely sight to see the rain coming down in the flood-lights…
Meanwhile, our prayers got answered and finally the rains subsided. After some time, the covers were taken off with some wild cheers from all of us. Finally the game started and we were treated to some phenomenal cricket by Veeru and Gambhir. Such was the pace of the game that when Bulb and I took a 5 minute break to get some soft drinks for the group, it had already costed us 4 sixes and dismissal of Gambhir. 🙁 By the time, rain stopped game again, Sehwag had already raced to 48 off some 17-18 balls and Daredevils were blazing away at a rate of more than 10 per over..
But rain was to play spoilsport again.. And when it stopped after some 30-40 minutes, it was followed by a very strong dust-storm. Bulb, who was standing on his chair now, passed the oft-repeated remark “Bhatti ko pakad lo, ud naa jaaye”. And just as he finished, he almost lost his balance thanks to strong gush of wind. 🙂 And if it were not enough, 2 minutes later, his specs were “gone with the wind” Hold on!! Not off his eyes, but from his pockets.. 🙂 We had a tough time locating those, asking others and explaining to them that he wasn’t actually wearing the specs when they flew. 😀
After some time, when rain stopped, we were able to locate the rest of the party, thanks to now almost half-empty stands as many had already left. With Dahuja supporting his hometown team (Kings XI,Mohali), cheering for Delhi got a whole new meaning. J Thankfully the players agreed to play, even when conditions were totally unplayable. Things like chips-packets and plastic bags were flowing all around (including the field) and at times, the batsmen had to ward those off with their bats. The match was already curtailed to 11 overs a side game and the Daredevils could not cash much on the blazing start that they had.
Second innings started without much ado, though the dark clouds were still looming around. And we were turning mad as the Daredevils produced one marvelous catch after another. All my eyes craved for at that moment was a replay of those three spectacular catches, but yes, there was this sense of excitement at being live witness to such quality stuff. And just when we thought the Daredevils were cruising to victory, Sehwag took the ball in his hands and that one over turned the direction of the match. It was already raining lightly and perhaps Sehwag wanted to finish off the mandatory 6 overs quickly. I too thought it to be wise move, but after that over, Kings XI never looked back. Finally when they were just ahead of the at-par score (with a six!!), they decided to walk off. The end was a bit anti-climatic as we in the stands never knew who actually was ahead. After 15-20 minutes, there was an announcement, which wasn’t clear at all in the noise, but the janta started leaving and then, (from someone who got a call after seeing it on TV) we got to know what we were already speculating: Kings XI had won on D/L method. People all around were dejected, though some like Dahuja were jubilant. As for me, I’d have preferred Delhi, but didn’t really mind the triumph of Yuvi’s boys. 🙂
Finally at about 12:30 in the night, a day full of drama had ended. Or so we thought. There was some more drama to come. The cab that we had booked was on its way from Noida. We instructed the driver to meet us at Raj-Ghat gate and decided to walk to the point. But none of us knew that Raj-ghat has multiple gates. The confused driver reached some other gate. Meanwhile we decided to relax outside the Gandhi-Darshan Bhawan in front of Rajghat. That as it later turned out was a very wrong decision. The place was mostly isolated and except for an occasional vehicle or two that passed by, there was almost nowhere there. And as soon as Gauri brought this subject, (“Yeh Dilli hai, Yahan kuch bhi ho sakta hai” ), a rogue man walked out of nowhere and started asking the way to Old Delhi. Perhaps he was testing whether we’re conversant with the place and I idiotically blurted out that we don’t belong to this place. Anu asked him to ask the guard of “Gandhi Darshan”. He then questioned that where has he come from. (“Tu Kahan se hai”) We decided to completely ignore him; and he started repeating this question to each of us, his voice growing sterner every time. Then he took out his cell-phone from his pocket( I was glad that it was just a cell-phone when it came out; In that one second, I had imagined more dangerous things.) Then he called up someone and started speaking: “Yahan 2-3 ladke hain, saath mein ek ladki bhi hai… Maine poochha to kuch bata nahin rahe hain.. Haan.. Yeh Raj Ghaat ke saamne hi hai” Obviously, he was purposefully being loud enough to make us listen to whatever he was saying. He walked away while he was still on phone leaving us quite tense and I must admit, a bit scared too. We checked out the number of each passing cab, hoping that it were ours. Finally in 2-3 minutes, the cab arrived and we breathed a sigh of relief. We located the man at the next crossing and he was still on phone. Not sure whether he was just a drunkard or had some more dangerous plans, but he surely succeeded in making us uneasy for a few minutes.
At the end of the match, one of us had rightly commented: The day was like an Ekta Kapoor serial full of every masala that one could think of: tension, excitement,drama etc. Perhaps, the fear factor was missing.. And the day-end made sure that we didn’t lose out on that front too.. 😀