Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Not Just Another Cricket Match

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
I was looking forward to this day since the past three years. Of all the match-ups in the whole season, this was the only match I really wanted to see. In 2011, this particular match was a complete wash out because of the rain. Last year, I was not even in a position to walk when the match took place but I was happy, we demolished them that day. This year, there were no obstacles, or so I thought when I booked the tickets to watch the IPL match between Rajasthan Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore on the 20th of April. One team in which my idol, Rahul Dravid plays at present and the other which betrayed him. Nothing would make me happier than seeing my idol in person and him being the victorious captain of a team against his former team on his ‘home’ ground.

This day was special to me in more ways than one. Not only was I ecstatic to watch my idol live, it was also going to be my first ever “Live” match. Yes, I know it sounds very shameful that I had never watched a Cricket match in a stadium before, but there’s always a first for everything. My passion for my beloved Cricket is unparalleled, but I always preferred watching the game from the comforts of my home rather than watching it live in the stadium. 

I never saw Dravid bat live in a Test Match in a stadium; that is probably my only regret as far as my beloved game is concerned. So, this particular match became all the more special as it might possibly be Dravid’s last competitive match on his home ground. He may not come back to play another season, although I said the same thing last year as well. So there is a glimmer of hope of Dravid coming back next year, it all depends on how he feels, he would be 41 by then. Anyways, if this was going to be his swan song then I had to be there at any cost.

There was a little drama even before the start of the match, nothing related to the Cricket of course. Because of the blasts that happened in Bangalore just three days prior to the match, the security was beefed up in the city and especially for this match, the security was heightened. The stadium had turned into a fortress, almost.

The day finally arrived and I, along with my buddy Suraj made our way to the stadium. My first experience inside a stadium was absolutely amazing. My excitement reached its peak when I saw my idol for the very first time. Dravid walked into the stadium in his training gear, started analyzing the pitch as he always does before the start of a match. There was a huge roar when he entered the stadium by a sparsely filled crowd.

My eyes were firmly set on him, watching his every move. I was absolutely dumbstruck, I couldn’t believe I was watching him live for the first time. The actual start of the match was still two hours away, Dravid and his teammates started practicing. After analyzing the pitch, Dravid got his pads on and started hitting a few balls in the nets, although he was practicing at the far end of the stadium as compared to where I was seated, I could still feel his absolutely commendable work ethic. This wasn’t new to me; he has been doing that since the past 17 years. 

Even after retiring from International Cricket a year ago, he still looked great physically. Dravid taking a break from his commentating duties during the recently concluded India-Australia Test series to prepare for this year’s IPL shows his commitment and determination. I was privileged to witness all that live for the very first time.

Virat Kohli won the toss and RCB chose to field first. Any team chasing always has a distinct advantage on this ground, hence I was expecting RR to bat last but it wasn’t to be. We needed a good start from Watson and Rahane but they fell very early in the innings. The run rate didn’t even touch six until the 8th over. Dravid was struggling but was fighting it out. I finally got to witness my idol bat live but at that moment I was so involved in the match, I didn’t even realize it. 

The run rate was slowly starting to pick up, and Dravid also started to find his shots, which gave me immense joy and happiness; that feeling just can’t be described in words. His flicks, his straight drives, his cover drives, his backfoot punches down the ground; although many found the fielders but for me just watching him hit those shots was pure heavenly. I was absolutely gutted when Dravid holed out for a fighting 35. It was an absolute privilege to witness my idol bat, I was content with the fact that he fought it out in the middle when the going was tough and again came up with a rock-solid innings. When Dravid fell, the score was 97 for 4, the rest of the team just dramatically collapsed. We eventually holed out for an inadequate score of 117. I wanted to leave the field at that instant, but there was still some optimism left inside me which said, there is still a chance. But honestly, I knew our fate was sealed.

In the second half, even though I knew what the result would be eventually, I still kept rooting for my team till the very end. I observed Dravid field all the way through, he would mostly field in the first slip or the mid off. I was keenly observing his mannerisms as I didn’t know if or when I would get that chance again. I learnt a lot of new things about my idol, that day. Something that would stay with me for a long long time.

For many, it was just another Cricket match. For me, it was something way beyond. Thank you, Rahul Dravid for all the memories.

42 comments:

  1. Glad you had the pleasure of witnessing your idol performing live!

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    1. Yes, Sir. It was indeed a pleasure. Thank you. :)

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  2. Ya agreed with Deepak bhai .. its amazing to see your star performing live .. its life in itself !!nice read!! And yes !! Happy B'day Cricket God - Sachin!!

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  3. You went with Suraj Bhanu, right? It must be very special for you and I could sense how excited you were throughout the match. BTW, I think you are a great observer. Isn't a little boring to reach that early to the stadium, barring the Rahul Dravid part?

    I hardly know anything about IPL and I don't admire the format but watching cricket live still excites me. Please post some pictures on Fb. :)

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    1. Yes, Saru. It was one of the best days of my life. :)

      If a match starts at 8PM, entry is allowed into the stadium at around 5PM. If we are late, the preferred seats would already be taken so its better to be there a little early. Also, there was one more reason why I would be excited to reach the stadium early. You know the reason very well. :)

      I know many don't like T20 Cricket, especially IPL. But I love the game so I enjoy all 3 formats. Test Cricket is still my favorite. Yeah, the experience of watching the match live in the stadium is like no other. :)

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  4. The fact that you decided to pen this down in between the scorching preparations itself speak volumes about your excitement on having watched the match and dravid at close quarters:) Good to know that you are alive and kicking. Loved the account. I think every cricket fan should atleast once in their life time watch a match live on a stadium. The excitement should be un matchable. Well, i am yet to do that, though. Lets see:)

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    1. Haha! I am alive and kicking. :D Yeah, the preparations are on in full swing but I couldn't afford to miss this one. Thank you for your wonderful words, Maliny. Oh yeah, you should definitely watch a match live in the stadium, you would love the experience. :)

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  5. Even though I from Bangalore, I wanted RR to win this match only because Dravid is in RR.

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    1. I share the same sentiments. Thank you, Sir. :)

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  6. Such an adorable post. I feel your happiness, friend. I'm so glad you got to go and watch Dravid play.

    It's no shame that this is the first match you attended. I haven't done so, ever. :)

    Btw, I'm not much of a cricket person, but I simply loved this post. If your posts could serve as commentary for these matches, I'm sure I'd turn into a cricket enthusiast. Honest.

    I'm so, so happy for you Akshay. I hope you get to watch more matches in which Dravid's playing.

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    1. Aww!! Thank you so much, Divya for your beautiful comment. :)

      I can finally tick one of the check boxes in my bucket list, you can say. It was an amazing experience to watch Dravid live for the first time. :) I am so glad you think my posts would turn you into a Cricket enthusiast. That is a great compliment for me. :)

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  7. I had a similar experience too.
    My idol was Ganguly.. me and my dad had bought tickets to the KKR vs DC match in which Ganguly made 91 while whacking sixes here and there. I can totally understand your joy !!

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    1. We share similar sentiments, my friend. Yeah, I remember that innings by Ganguly. It was a treat to watch. :)

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  8. Akshay, you say you can't describe in words but that couldn't have been narrated any better. I can understand the daunting weight of the moment. You were witnessing live cricket for the first time in life. Not only the hero you adore was gracing the grounds in what could probably his last season, there was the question of poetic justice too.

    For me, the protagonist of the story was the priest rather than the God whose glory he has captured ably. Even though the match turned agsinst his wishes, I loved the way he described the grit and heroic resistance of the god and acceptance of the fait accompli.

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    1. This comment just made my day. Can't thank you enough, Sir. :)

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  9. Akshay, So happy for you!! I must admit that I am not an IPL fan but I do watch some of the matches on television. Even I am a great fan of Sachin. Saw him cutting his b'day cake on television...I pray that the Little Master bats with as much panache as he did in his early day. And also pray that he leaves the game on a high note and with his pride and dignity intact. Even the harshest critics of Sachin will agree that he is not over with the game yet and there is a lot of cricket still left in him.
    Lovely post, as always.:)

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  10. Anyone can fall in love wit Dravid by just reading this...
    P.S: i better take your autograph asap...tc :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Meg for your constant support. :) Autograph? Haha! Well, surely the next time we meet. :P

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  11. I'm following only those matches when Sunrisers are playing. so, didn't see this match. But, very glad that you enjoyed!! I can imagine your happiness. I still can't forget the memories of the first match I saw live :D Great!!

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    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words, Valli. :) The Sunrisers are surprisingly doing well, glad you are enjoying your team's performances. I am totally with you on the last line, it's an amazing experience. :)

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  12. The moment I think of your blog, the first thing that would come to my mind is your idol :) Glad that you saw him perform.

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    1. Thank you so much Jaish, so happy to see you here after a long time. :D

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  13. This is so sweet Akshay. I am glad that you got a chance to see your idol live. Its like a dream come true, isn't it? And I wish you get many such chances to witness him perform in other live matches too :)

    Sorry for being so late here. Not able to be around the blog too often these days.. You know the reason :)

    Take Care

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    1. Thank you so much, dear. In spite of your busy schedule for the big day, you still found some time to read my blog. This means so much to me. :) Take care. :)

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  14. This is so good. I from Pune. I like your post. I love cricket.

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  15. RCB was one of my favourite teams, till they betrayed Rahul Dravid. I just couldn't take it at all. So I am a more anti-RCB fan now :-)

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    1. Exactly, I feel the same way, Ash. I hate RCB for what they did to Dravid.

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  16. Felt good reading a true fan's account of watching his idol playing live for the first time. Rahul Dravid is an exceptional cricketer and a very good person. I remember getting his autograph and taking a picture with him on my first visit to Bangalore almost a decade back.

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    1. Thank you so much. I wish I could also get to meet Dravid someday. :)

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  17. Very nice article Akshay :) I used to regret a lot on not even witnessing a single match of Dravid bhai in the stadium. You are so lucky to see him play live. I wished RR to win only for Dravid :) And Ramakant is too lucky to get a photograph and autograpg from him. No one can replace Dravid. Proud to be a RD fan :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Sushmitha. I got to know how big a fan you are of Dravid after reading your blog, felt really happy. :) I hope you get to see Dravid play live when RR play in the Champions League later this year. This will be Dravid's last tournament. :(

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    2. I wish that I could at-least get that last chance :(

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  18. Hi
    Even I am a big Dravid fan!
    I could relate to every word of your article!
    Loved it :)

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  19. Brilliant work!!!!!!!!
    Rahul Dravid will be dearly missed!!!
    Indeed THE WALL!!!!!! :)

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  20. Its more then one year you have not written any post Akshay.. What's wrong? What made you quit blogging all of a sudden. This is not done..
    Chal enough now.. Write something. :)

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