Pretty one-sided

Farveez Maharoof (extreme right) pegged Rajasthan Royals back with incisive seam bowling.-RAJEEV BHATT Farveez Maharoof (extreme right) pegged Rajasthan Royals back with incisive seam bowling.

This was stale entertainment and poor cricket, a most forgettable mix on a most forgettable night. Ferozeshah Kotla deserved better fare to herald a new era in cricket-watching, writes Vijay Lokapally.

A floodlit Ferozeshah Kotla, not the cricket that it staged, was a breathtaking sight for some old-timers at one of the oldest venues in the country. The Wellingdon Pavilion, host to some of the greatest names in the game, stood mute witness to the rapidly changing character of cricket.

This was Twenty20 cricket, a crass version of a game that once took pride in its glorious uncertainties. The Indian Premier League, launched by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has created a new genre of spectators, who look for entertainment in a game that was known to entertain even when teams played for a draw.

It is a reflection of the times that we live in. Twenty20 cricket offers excitement no doubt but then it does so on predictable lines. The batsmen come swinging their bats, preparing to swipe from the first ball itself, and the bowlers too prepare themselves for a pasting from the first ball they send down.

There is a silent prayer on the lips of the batsman and the bowler. The bowler bowls and prays. The batsman prays and swings. It is a matter of connecting at the right time. There is no place for technique, but the game demands skills of a different kind. Importantly, even mediocre cricketers with limited prowess can look forward to making a mark in the IPL.

Ferozeshah Kotla is the home of Delhi Daredevils, led by Virender Sehwag. He was at the helm when his side demolished a depleted Rajasthan Royals by nine wickets. As the margin suggests, it was never a match of any intensity. From the time the entertainment package came a cropper the contest was doomed.

Film star Akshay Kumar made an unimpressive entry, sliding down a cable, and the trend was set for a lacklustre evening. The hosts, GMR, had ensured a goodly gathering, but the lack of participation of the audience could not escape the attention of those who know for a fact that Kotla had long ceased to be a venue that would attract knowledgeable cricket fans. This was stale entertainment and poor cricket, a most forgettable mix on a most forgettable night. Ferozeshah Kotla deserved better fare to herald a new era in cricket-watching even though the poor response — reportedly not more than 8000 tickets were sold — was in keeping with the quality of the teams.

Farveez Maharoof of Sri Lanka was the ‘Man of the Match’ for his excellent seam bowling, while Gautam Gambhir and Shikar Dhawan shone with the bat. Barring the installation of the floodlights, there was little that Kotla could have gloated over in this insipid cricket contest.

THE SCORES

Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Daredevils, Kotla, New Delhi, April 19, 2008.Result: Delhi Daredevils won by nine wickets. Rajasthan Royals 129 for eight in 20 overs (S. Watson 21, R. Jadeja 29, D. Salunkhe 26 n.o., F. Maharoof 2-11, R. Bhatia 2- 17) lost to Delhi Daredevils 132 for one in 15.1 overs (G. Gambhir 58 n.o., S. Dhawan 52 n.o.).