Kohli, Yuvraj, Kallis, AB De Villiers, Shakib, Gambhir, Malinga etc — should be a great day for cricket right? Wrong.
The thing with IPL is that there is no dearth of big names. One goes, and another arrives. But great players being involved doesn’t mean great games will be played. This was the first time I was going to watch a match live in the stadium so obviously I do not have any reference for comparisons, and that wasn’t such a bad thing after all. That would leave me unbiased.
There were 22 of us going together. Majority of them married. There were two children under 4 year old. The guys were mostly dressed in Blue t-shirt and blue jeans. [Everyone bought the same t-shirt so we would appear on camera apparently. Unfortunately or fortunately our t-shirts matched the colour of the seats of the stadium. So the camera would hardly pan on our direction thinking they were empty seats though they weren't. Empty seats don't dance on the aisles. True story. This is lot of information within brackets. Okay I'm closing this bracket now!] See, I closed the bracket. I am a man of my words. Okay, where was I? So we were a group of 22, 21 of who were Indians. I was the odd one out but that didn’t change anything.
We took a metro to Mall of the Emirates and then went from there to the stadium in cabs. Dubai Cricket Stadium is like an oasis in the middle of a desert. For a modern top level cricket stadium, they could and should really do a whole lot of work with parking. Also plant some tress please. The surroundings were an absolute eye sore. And dust flying around, meant there were literally eye sores. We didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic so we dropped off from the cab and had to walk a 2-3 kilometers. This meant we missed the toss and the first few overs of the match. Food and drinks were being confiscated unless there were kids along and that meant the security people or whoever the food will go to will have a big big party.
Finally we entered the stadium. It was clean. And the stadium was buzzing! There was definitely a good atmosphere. We went in and started looking for place to sit. We weren’t given seat numbers and that meant you sit anywhere you want within your zone. As we were climbing the stairs we saw Vidya Malvade, who starred in Chak De India along with SRK [I first thought it was Suzanne Roshan...]. So we went and sat just under the VIP enclosure where Vidya was present. Anything to get in front of the cameras eh? It was also an area where the sun wasn’t shining and that is always a plus. The ground was 3/4th full. One section of the stadium, on which the sun shone brightly, was almost empty.
The first match was between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was very very boring. Mumbai scored a sub par 115 with no 6′s in 20 overs. Bangalore chased it easily and hit one six. 40 overs of T20 cricket. One six. Definitely not exciting. Also didn’t help that Kohli and Yuvi got out for 0 each, so that was meh. Malinga, meanwhile, was a crowd favourite. Got the most cheers and crowd got behind almost every ball that he bowled.
It was the second match I was more interested in. Shakib al Hasan, the only Bangladeshi to play in this seasons IPL was playing. Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla came to watch the match as did Shaikh Nahyan. Also saw Wasim Akram live so that was awesome. Kolkata lost the match but Shakib performed well so that wasn’t all lose lose.
The crowd kept decreasing as the second match started. It was understandable as the next day was a working day. By the time the match ended, out of our gang of 22, only two remained. It was my first match and I wasn’t leaving it half way. My room mate had the same idea so we returned home at about 11:30 pm or so. The crowd had a lot of energy in the afternoon session but for the second match everyone was dead tired. The DJ tried to infuse energy but it didn’t work.
The good, the bad, the ugly
The good: Ticket prices for a double header is just 50 dirhams. That’s for 7 hours of cricket featuring top stars. Its an amazing deal.
The bad: While ticket prices were dirt cheap, the food and drinks are just way too much expensive. Picture this: A small bottle of Pepsi costs one fifth of the ticket money! Insane. The vada pav was average. Not bad actually. The chicken briyani doesn’t deserve to be called briyani. It was just dry rice with two pieces of fried chicken which wasn’t juicy too. Foods shouldn’t be criticized though, so alhumdulillah for the food.
The ugly: Didn’t see any place for offering prayer. A man was performing prayer just a distance away from entrance of stadium. Parking facilities need to be upgraded. Cars were getting stuck in the sand and that wasn’t good to see.
The last word
I’m a big cricket fan. I think about the game when I watch it. What I would have done if I was the captain. I follow the game closely and watching in a stadium is all about the atmosphere and not all about the game. I don’t think I would want to watch an important match in the stadium. I would rather watch it closely, watch the replays of it on TV, hear what the commentators have to say etc…
Till the next time,