It’s been a warmer than usual summer in Bangalore. Its residents have been complaining to whoever they can find about how the city is not like what it was before. Everyone is looking for old Bangalore in every nook and cranny like it were some lost toy that if found would magically change the city’s weather and take it back to a time when people didn’t need air conditioners. The city is now at the receiving end with others taunting its trysts with 40 degree centigrade temperatures and an IPL team that has more often than not flattered to deceive.
Rain is the solution to most of the country’s problems. It puts a smile on the faces of farmers, politicians, the RBI governor and the man on the street. Monsoons are the life blood of the Indian economy, not the promises and policies of the politicians. They can sell hopes and dreams to the electorate but if the monsoons don’t arrive on time, their parade gets rained down upon.
Like any other city, Bangalore waits for rain and this year, waited for it like a kid waiting for a present. And when the rains finally came, the city flooded social media with its date with the rains. But what everyone is really waiting for is that one downpour where the streets get flooded, hailstones slam on the windows, trees fall and life is thrown out of gear.
When the Royal Challengers Bangalore took on the Gujarat Lions at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Saturday, it poured. It wasn’t the downpour Bangalore was looking forward to but a rain that Bangalore didn’t complain about.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have never won an IPL title. They were finalists in the 2009 and 2011 editions and their performances through the seasons have been a mixed bag at best. Currently, their original owner Vijay Mallya is in hiding, evading arrest as he owes banks large sums that he took from then for his now defunct airline. A couple of years ago, he forked out 14 crores to buy Yuvraj Singh, a hopelessly failed experiment, while claiming that he didn’t have money to pay his own employees. His larger than life persona also reflected in the team. Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, giants from Karnataka and Bangalore were considered old school and left. The batting lineup too is larger than life. Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Ab de Villiers and Shane Watson is a line-up that is the envy of most teams. Mitchell Starc, who was expected to spear head the bowling, is out with an injury. The batsmen are expected to act as insurance cover for a bowling attack that has Allan Donald as a bowling coach but has been unable to defend scores of 180 plus.
Of the top order, Ab de Villiers and Virat Kohli are in the form of their lives. Chris Gayle is an aging giant trying to keep his place in the team, a sad indictment for one the most destructive batsman the game has produced. Vijay Mallya always seemed to want to make a larger than life statement and at least on paper, the batting order lives up to that billing. Their coaching staff are all bowlers – Daniel Vettori is one of New Zealand’s finest spinners, Allan Donald or white lightning as he was fondly christened during his playing days is one of the finest pacers to have played the game and Bharat Arun is the bowling coach of the Indian cricket team.
On Saturday, I headed to the stadium with my nephews and one of their friends in tow and crossed my fingers hoping that the hard earned money spent on the tickets wouldn’t be washed away by the threatening clouds.
Chris Gayle has flattered to deceive and the last time I was elated at his dismissal was during the T20 World Cup semi-final encounter against India. His failure at the top of the order has meant that Kohli and de Villiers have had to step in and make amends. Saturday was no different. Gayle was again dismissed for a single digit score in the fourth over. By now, the chants of ABD… ABD were reverberating at the stadium. The odds of winning the lottery seem to be better than being able to witness a Gayle blinder. The introduction of spin in the 5th over with Pravin Tambe undid the good work done by Dhawal Kulkarni and Praveen Kumar who had collectively conceded 31 runs up to that point.
Shivil Kaushik came on in the 6th over and in the last ball of the cover was carted for a six by ABD off the back foot.
Pravin Tambe came into bowl next and was smashed for a boundary and six off consecutive deliveries. ABD had arrived.
At the end of the 10th over, the Royal Challengers Bangalore were 76/1. Virat Kohli was on 32 and de Villiers on 36.
First 10 overs weather report – Overcast with a couple of showers.
Then it rained, no poured. Even the weatherman could not have predicted what happened in the last 10 overs of the innings.
Dhawal Kulkarni was greeted with a six over long on in the first ball of the over. In the stands, my nephews were waiting with bated breath for the ball to come to them. One of them tapped me on my shoulder and asked in all seriousness what he should do if the ball came towards him. In the 11th over, de Villiers smashed another six and two boundaries. He reached his half century in 25 balls.
While watching all of that you’re wondering why this team is struggling to make it to the top four. In the middle, the Gujarat Lions were starting to look for shelter. Fortunately for the home crowd, their bowlers obliged.
The next few overs can best be described as a haze. Just as you sat down, you were again back up on your feet scarcely able to believe what was unfolding in front of you.
15th over: Praveen Kumar was pulverized for 23 runs. It was a downpour up to that point. ABD brought thunder and lightning to the party.
Weather report for the over – 6,6,4,6,1. Heavy rain followed by thunder and lightning.
17th over: Ravi Jadeja was smashed for two sixes.
Weather report for the over– Heavy rains
18th over: Dwyane Bravo was taken for 30 runs. The over included a no-ball for height that was smashed for a boundary. The resultant free hit was smashed for a six.
Weather report – Heavy rains followed by lightning and thunderstorms
19th over – Shivil Kaushik was decimated and gave away 30 runs. That included 3 consecutive sixes. 60 runs in two overs. Seeing is believing. Virat Kohli went from 65 to 95 in six deliveries.
Weather report – Potentially dangerous rains and risk of flooding.
20th over – Gujarat were already looking into a black hole. Things could only get worse. Praveen Kumar went for two sixes. The wickets of Virat Kohli and Shane Watson added little cheer to the faces of the Gujarat Lions and the downpour stopped at 248.
Innings Weather Report – The innings began with light showers that progressed to heavy rains and culminated in thunder, lightning and floods. The carnage has resulted in many fallen trees and traffic snarls that the Gujarat Lions have to find their way through the catastrophic mess if they were to reach their destination.
If you were to go back in time to the first ever match of the Indian Premier League in 2008, Brendon McCullum, who then played for the Kolkata Knight Riders, gave Bangalore a hiding they would never forget. He smashed 158 off 73 deliveries and the Knight Riders beat the Royal Challengers by 144 runs. Finally, 8 years later, revenge was served to him on the very same ground. The M Chinnaswamy stadium isn’t a big ground. A few years down the line, the city will get a swanky new stadium with almost double the seating capacity.
Brendon McCullum should have performed an encore of his first ever IPL innings if the Gujarat Lions were to even come within sniffing distance of a victory. Instead, what transpired was a damp squib.
Dwyane Smith was bowled by Sreenath Aravind in the second over and Brendon McCullum was caught at long-off in the last ball of the 5th over. After that, everything else seemed to be academic. Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik and Aaron Finch were no match for the gargantuan score and wickets fell at regular intervals. At the half way mark, half their side was in the dug out and Aaron Finch decided to get some batting practice as his side had careened way off course.
Have you ever been to a party where after the cake is cut or the food is served, everyone is waiting for someone to leave? This match was a bit like that. After watching two modern day greats come together to pummel a side, everything else from that point on is an exercise in waiting. Nothing else seems as interesting.
The Gujarat Lions folded for 104 with Aaron Finch top scoring with 37.
Gujarat Lions innings weather report – Dry with no spells of rain or threat of thunderstorms.
AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli didn’t slog. Their hits were clean with no mis-hits or mistimed shots that found their way to the boundary by fluke. Why, ABD was hitting sixes off the back foot. Their record 229 run partnership is one for the ages and not something that can be replicated easily. While their playoff hopes still hang in the balance, they gave their home crowd something to jump, cheer and hoot about.
Now the city is gearing for its tryst with the the real monsoons.
On the day of the match, it poured in Kolkata, affecting the match that was being played between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Rising Super Giants. It threatened to rain in Bangalore but thankfully didn’t.
For a little over two hours Ab de Villiers and Virat Kohli caused the effects of rain by halting traffic and throwing normal off gear.
It didn’t rain that evening but the city was on cloud nine.