Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ABG's IPL Match Outing

It all started when Sajan, ABG's Delivery Manager, told us that Avis Budget Group, on the occasion of completing of 8 years of the account, had asked us to have a celebration. There were many suggestions pouring in on how to spend the funds allocated. They ranged from social service initiative to trekking in Kerela etc. But finally, the one which was chosen was the entire team going to watch an IPL match. The match chosen was Bangalore Royal Challengers vs. Delhi Daredevils on 19th May.
There were a lot of preparations done before the day ranging from getting the exact number of people visiting to the transportation. Routes were earmarked. Vehicles were assigned and route coordinators chosen who would take care of the team members going from their route.
Finally the day came. We got our tickets in the morning. We learnt that we had got corporate passes. So we would be sitting in the corporate stand. Finally we left our office at about 5:45 pm. Heavy traffic in Bangalore (as usual) meant we reached at about 7:10 pm. In the meantime, it had began to rain and drench our expectations. Weather in Bangalore is unpredictable and so we all started praying that by the time the match started, the skies would clear up. I think the weather gods heard our prayers because the rain stopped just when we reached the stadium.
As we took our seats in the stands, one couldn't help but praise the ground. Amazing! The ground was right in front of us as we were in the lower row. And the entire view was simply breathtaking. Shaan had just finished his performance (which meant we had missed a great show) and got the crowd buzzing. As the captains of the 2 teams (Dravid of RCB and Sehwag of DD) came out into the ground along with the cheerleaders, the crowd started shouting. We were divided over where to keep our focus on. Sehwag then won the toss and chose to field first.

So RCB were to bat first. We got our drinks (which were complimentary) and waited in anticipation. Unlike the earlier tournaments, when one had to wait for the teams to come out for the entertainment to start, the IPL didn't keep anyone waiting. The cheerleaders had started their job. One song after the other, and one move after the other, they managed to make the crowd dance very well to their tunes. The ground had 3 symmetrically placed stands for the cheerleaders and fortunately, one of them was just on front of us.

Now having a group of about 100 members, with minimum 20 of your peer age has its benefits. You can have amazing fun without worrying if anyone would feel bad about it. We had lots of placards put up. From 'Mallaya Adopt Us!' to 'Cheer gals V Luv U!', we had various kinds of placards. People put up their cell numbers asking the cheerleaders to call them. I have no idea how much of their effort suceeded. But one thing was sure, the amount of shouting we did managed to attract the attention of the dancers and they actually waved back. Awesome fun!
Meanwhile, the match was in progress. Bangalore were struggling (as usual) but their debut batsman - Srivatsa Goswami wasn't. He was hitting fours and sixes all over and managed to take the game to the Delhi bowlers who were on fire. McGrath was bowling with an impeccable line and Maharoof was chipping in with some good bowling. On the other hand, Goswami was losing partners as most RCB batsmen were losing wickets. But Misbah managed to hit some sixes towards the end to bring up the Royal Challengers to some respectable total.

The break meant some more show by the cheerleaders. And when the second innings started, Bangalore was bowling. So they were dancing at the fall of the wickets and in between overs. There were a lot of people clicking their camera phones. Nobody wanted to miss the fun. But the nature of the crowd, coupled with the moves of the dancers made it very difficult to get blur-free images. Anyways, I managed to get some decent clicks of one of their moves.

Moving on to the game, for Delhi, Sehwag and Gambhir, the highest scorers in the competition, came out to bat. And as predicted, they started hitting the Bangalore bowlers. After Sehwag scored a typical quick fire 47, Praveen Kumar got him caught by Chipli. Then De Villers came in and steadied the innings with a patient 21. Meanwhile, our ABG team was going crazy. As most of them were Delhi supporters (which was actually not surprising), they were cheering each hit by Delhi. Finally, with some hitting by Dhawan and Maharoof, Delhi managed to end the match. In fact, Dhawan ended the match with a six. Bangalore team had lost another match but our ABG team had not. It was a thoroughly delightful experience for all of us. Hopefully, we will have more such fun with this team in the future.

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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