Sunday, 26 April 2009

Indian Premier League

Last Saturday (18th April) we went to Newlands with Radie and Leonie to see the opening day of the 2009 Indian Premier League 20/20 cricket tournament.

The whole show has been moved to South Africa this year as it coincides with the Indian General Election (and the South African one come to think about it) and security could not be guaranteed.

Amazingly the decision was only taken 4 weeks before the first match was due to start so the organisers and South African hosts have done something truly remarkable. Don't listen when people tell you things can't be done, or that there is not enough time! Very impressive.

Being a cricket day it was of course pouring with rain by the time we got to the ground! Still, the weather didn't dampen the spirits of the queuing public, despite having to wait for the gates to open. Mind you, the delay gave Indian Television the chance to interview Jon (wearing his England hat) about what he was expecting from the day! As he was suffering from tonsillitis at the time we are not sure if anyone understood what he had to say!

The Rajasthan Royals won the marketing competition with free t-shirts being given out along with flags and all other kinds of branded material you could imagine. This is the team that is part owned by Shilpa Shetty, the Bollywood actress who was at the centre of a somewhat knee jerk international ‘race scandal’ when Jade Goody called her ‘Shilpa Poppadum’ on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK.

Eventually the gates opened and we set up the camp chairs and packed lunches on the grass bank under the trees. Newlands is one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world, overlooked by Table Mountain and the Devil’s Peak and with a fine selection of trees amongst the stands and grassed areas.

The weather was easing a little as the start time neared but visibility was poor, you couldn’t even see Table Mountain! Then with half an hour to go the covers came off, the rain stopped and the clouds began to lift, quite a transformation.

First up was the Chennai Super Kings vs the Mumbai Indians, followed by the defending champions The Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore. The whole experience was great, noise, music, drumming, exciting cricket, international stars and even troupes of dancing girls!

We sat square of the wicket and had a great view of all of the action, including Lasith Malinga’s ‘interesting’ action!

Some of the biggest stars of world cricket were within touching distance of us, to name but a few we saw - Harbhajan Singh (India), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff (England), Kevin ‘KP’ Peterson (England – but really a South African), Lasith ‘Slinger’ Malinga (Sri Lanka), Matthew Hayden (Australia – boo, hiss), Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Shane Warne (Australia), Graeme Smith (South Africa), Shaun Pollack (South Africa and ex Warwickshire hero), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Rahul Dravid (India), Anil Kumble (India), Jesse Ryder (New Zeland) ……………..

The day was a huge success with wins for the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. The cricket was exciting and the introduction of fireworks, music and dancing all added to the occasion. It is little wonder that all of the tickets sold out within 2 hours of going on sale! If we get the chance to go again we will.

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