Monday, November 04, 2013

The great Indian cricket match experience

Back in the day, I was the biggest cricket buff around but the frankly massive overdose of the sport in recent years has caused me and many other loyalists to turn away as the once regal sport that has now become all song and dance with very little focus on the actual cricket. But despite this, when I was offered a chance to watch the series clinching final match between India and Australia one day international, I jumped up and grabbed the opportunity before anyone else laid claim to the ticket. 

So here are my top 10 memories of the great Indian cricket match experience which is something that you need to go through once to know that you have really lived a true sports fans life.

1. Cricket administrators are morons!
How else can the explain the fact that they do not allow you to carry a camera inside the stadium but mobile phones with built in cameras are permitted? Every Tom, Dick & Harry in the stadium had a smartphone that could zoom in so much that you it was easier to just watch the players on the phones surrounding you than to strain your eyes and watch the live action on the field instead. I ended up walking all the way back to my car and leaving my camera there and thus missed out on the first few overs of the match because of this stupid rule. 

2. The Bangalore crowd is awesome
So rain temporarily halted play for half an hour or so and the crowd patiently waited for the weather to change and actually applauded the sun when it made its appearance. True story! The Mexican wave did go around the stadium several times and at the end of it, all of us cheered for ourselves. True story again! The crowd was very appreciative of the gritty Australian team as well which was not something I had seen in my earlier cricket matches. All except for Shane Watson though who was booed out of the stadium as he was dismissed because he had exchanged words with some Indian players who had mocked him earlier. 

3. The Helicopter shot! OMG!
I've seen some crazy batting in my time but nothing prepared me for watching the ball sail out the stadium thanks to MSD's unorthodox but brutal helicopter shot. Ridiculous strength and timing. 

4. Watching an Indian batsman score 209 
That was just freaking insane. We almost felt bad for the Australian bowlers. Almost. 

5. $!&@(^%%^!^@# TV producers 
Ok, so if you have watched cricket matches that are being played in the Indian subcontinent you would have noticed how often pretty spectators get close ups of themselves whereas the only time men get shown is if they are jumping up and down in a fit of delirious frenzy that has seemingly been caused by ants in their pants. Here too they had a roving camera man who spent so much time focusing on the pretty women sitting a few rows in front of us while completely ignoring the entire male section of the crowd. I demand equality!

6. The Australian Collapse 
Hah, this looked to be too easy. Wickets kept tumbling down and when the Australian captain ran himself out in a moment of complete amateurishness, we thought the game was done. I mean even my 7 year old nephew couldn't have managed to get himself run out like that and he doesn't even know how to play cricket!

7. Maxwells Silver Hammer
I dont think the Beatles were referring to Glenn Maxwell but did he bludgeon the Indian bowling or what? I wouldn't be surprised if he actually turned out to be a son of Asgard. We were squirming in our seats and the first elements of doubt slowly started to creep in. Surely we couldn't snatch defeat from the warm and welcoming embrace of victory. Or could we?

8.  What Shots by Watson
After suffering a hamstring injury in the first half, Shane Watson walked out and continued where Maxwell had stopped. The ball just kept flying to the boundary and I was beginning to suspect that we might just be staring at an ominous defeat when thankfully Watson finally got out. 

9. The Rising of the Silent Crowd 
23 year old James Faulkner then decided that he was going to make a competitive match out of whatever was left and for some reason the Indian team just couldn't stop him from scoring runs at will. And before we knew it Australia were within sight of the most improbable of victories. The crowd was silent and between overs there was a nervous tension that hung ominously over us. Until the Josh moment happened. 

There it was on the big screen. A message from a guy named Josh that read "Come on spectators, team India needs your cheers!". And just like that the crowd woke up. Trepidation made way for hope. The silent murmurs gave way to cheers. Had it happened in a movie, you would've turned around and said "What bull !" But rather unbelievably, that one message brought the home field advantage back into play and the Indian team woke up as well and finished the tail off.  

10. Indian cricket fan guy is probably a jerk

So this guy is super famous for being an ever present part of India's fan contingent and I'll give him credit for being a flag bearer (no pun intended) of Indian supporters worldwide but during the drinks break an eager fan asked him if he could get a picture taken and this guy didn't even bother acknowledging the fact that someone was talking to him and just walked off. That was rude on a whole different level. 

At the end of the day I realised that you are much better off  watching a match from the comfort of your home with the luxury of your own food and with commentators (house trained but good ones nonetheless) to help you pick out the finer points that you might have missed. But at least once in your lifetime, you have to be a part of the great Indian cricket match experience!

Diwali Notes : Hear and There

So a few years ago I wrote about how Diwali in Bangalore could get a little crazy and I'm glad to say that over time I've become a little smarter about this wonderful festival of ours. Despite the copious amounts of completely unhealthy smoke from the crackers, the beating that my ear drums take from the ridiculously loud explosions (they still make me feel like I am in an actual war field) and the fact that the streets are just covered with so much litter that it is difficult to walk, Diwali still has a charm that is impossible to resist and enjoy. 

So this year I stayed off the roads while people were bursting crackers and instead got myself a nice vantage point and experimented with my red Olympus camera (its not pink I tell you!) as I tried to photograph the lit up Bangalore sky in all its glory. After a few misguided attempts I managed to figure out the actual settings and sorted out the exact angles that I was looking for to get the best results. 

And this is when it all started going downhill. After ensuring that everything was just perfect I was content to sit back and let the camera work it's magic but fate cruelly conspired against me as people just stopped bursting crackers altogether every time I was about to click a picture. As a result of this I ended up with several shots of a clear (if smoggy) Bangalore sky that was completely bereft of fireworks and others of people just standing around doing nothing. 

It got worse though, not only did people stop bursting crackers when I had the camera focussed in their direction but people on different streets would then start sending up fireworks and by the time I would set up my camera there, they too would stop and take a break! And so it went on and on and I was finally about to give up when a wayward rocket burst a few feet away from me and nearly took my hearing along with it as it went up in a thick cloud of smoke. To say that I nearly jumped out of my skin would be a massive understatement.  

On the plus side, I did manage to sneak in a few good pictures though that seemed to have more to do with divine providence than my own skill. I hope you had a memorable Diwali as well. Just don't call to tell me about it. You see, I probably wont hear my phone ring .....