Cricket carnival returns to India's tech city

With an upbeat RCB playing their second game, but first in front of the home crowd, stadium stands were jam packed with die-hard fans cheering, rooting, trumpeting and clapping for both teams.

Cashing in on the game, some vendors were seen hawking red and blue jerseys of both teams, while make-shift painters were scouting for bipartisan fans to paint their cheeks with the colours of Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians. "The carnival-like atmosphere in the stadium under floodlights is electrifying. More than the game, it is exciting to be here in the midst of about 40,000 fans despite so much of noise on a cool summer night," S. Nandkumar, a software engineer, told IANS in the crowded eastern stands.

Though local heroes Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey are no longer part of the RCB squad, there was no dearth of support for the new team, led by former New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori. "We have come to have fun after a long working day and watch stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Lasith Malinga, Zaheer Khan and A.B. De Villiers at their best. In a shorter game like this, it does not matter who wins or loses, so long as they play with intensity and entertain us with quality cricket," college student James Samson said.

With thousands of fans making a beeline to the stadium in the heart of the garden city, police had a harrowing time as traffic snarls and gridlocks choked roads around the venue. Among the noted celebrities and personalities in the pavilion were Mumbai Indians' owner Nita Ambani and RCB owner Vijay Mallya with his son Siddharth by his side.

After Tendulkar won the toss and elected to field, the boisterous fans were stunned into silence when RCB opener Mayank Agarwal was bowled out on the very first ball by Malinga, with the off-stump cart-wheeling. The fans heaved a sigh of relief when Virat Kohli prevented further damage and opened up to hit the Lankan speedster for a four.

When other opener Tilakaratne Dilshan and De Villiers consolidated the innings by putting up a solid 91-run partnership for the third wicket in 12.2 overs, the fans were relieved and cheered them for every run, including fours and a six.

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