Holiday, RCB form bring frenzied fans back to stadium
A public holiday on account of Ugadi, New Year by the Hindu calendar, and the winning form of hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) brought frenzied fans in hordes to the Chinnaswamy stadium here Thursday for the IPL tie against title-holders Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
Braving summer heat and humid air, thousands of fans stood in serpentine queues an hour before the third match began on home turf. Tight security and frisking at three entry points tested their patience before they could enter the grand stands for a splendid view of the manicured green ground.
Unlike Tuesday (April 9) when a working day and soaring temperature kept more than half of the stadium empty though RCB beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in a back-to-back league match by seven wickets, the stands were awash with a capacity crowd of about 25,000 fans, waving red-coloured flags and sporting red bands of the home team.
“Being a holiday and having managed to get a complimentary ticket, I was tempted to see the match from the pavilion. I didn’t want to miss the excitement. So, I rushed to the stadium in time to watch RCB’s explosive batter Chris Gayle and its captain Virat Kholi in action. It’s great fun to be here and enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere, which is difficult to get through television at home,” said a beaming Upendra Singh, an airline executive.
Field day for vendors as cops look other way
With thousands of fans flocking to the stands for another exciting bat and ball contest, about 100 vendors had a field day around the stadium hawking a variety of goods ranging from RCB’s T-shirts, jerseys, caps, flags, headbands to painting its logo and colours on the cheeks, forehead and arms of those who were keen to flaunt their loyalty for their team.
Though security was tight with about 1,000 police personnel spread around the stadium and gun-toting guards screening everyone’s entry at the gates, another set of young vendors was busy selling eatables and water bottles outside the stadium, where traffic cops were more relaxed as the vehicular traffic was lighter than on a busy day during peak hours in downtown.
“As huge crowds make a beeline to the stands to watch the IPL matches, it’s a great season for these hawkers to make a quick buck selling all kinds of things," a senior police officer told IANS outside the eastern stand.
"We don’t ban them from the vicinity as long as they remain at a safe distance from the stadium and do not cause nuisance to fans or us. We are, however, on guard to check bookies or middlemen who try to sell tickets in black,” he added.
Placards predict Gayle storm!
The phenomenal form of RCB’s opener Chris Gayle with a record strike rate and a reputation to hit any ball at will for a six or a four have made hundreds of fans across the stadium display colourful placards with “Weather Forecast: Gayle Storm Predicted" written in huge letters.
True to prediction, the Jamaican south paw did not disappoint his die-hard fans a bit, as he literally unleashed a storm all over the stadium with a record nine massive sixes and four hits to the ropes in his hurricane unbeaten knock of 85 runs off 50 balls.
Though man-of-the match Gayle took time to study the wicket and settle down, he mounted a ruthless attack on the opponents and did not spare any of its bowlers.
Chasing a modest target of 155 runs in the stipulated 20 overs after KKR were bundled out for 154 earlier, Gayle was involved in two partnerships, first with Kohli for the second wicket (50 runs off 39 balls) and for the third wicket for 83 runs off 51 balls.
This is the second time Gayle batted through the innings and made the team win after hitting an unbeaten 92 in 56 balls with five sixes and 11 boundaries in the RCB’s opening game here April 4 against Mumbai Indians.