The last time I watched a cricket match it was at Wankhede when Flintoff and his team pulled off a great win against Chappell's lab rats. Since then some of things have changed, not too many things, England is still a crappy one-day team and we still have no clue about the game, but know how to make tons of money out of it. Anyway, to cut a long story short, my friend had organised very good passes for the game - India vs England at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur. The reason most of the Champions Trophy matches are being played at the non-Metro centres (other than the CCI in Bombay) is the entire ambush marketing thing, and many stadiums such as Wankhede and Kotla have previous long-running naming contracts and also some of the associations backed by Pawar wanted to play hardball with the ICC - even though two of the BCCI's chief's biggest supporters Lalit Modi and IS Bindra are getting a lot of matches.
Anyway, I set out at seven along with my family - my first 'family trip' in several years.
The drive to Jaipur was not easy because it seems that Maruti must have dispatched half their stock off to Western India yesterday. There were very few stretches where I could open up the car and it took us an unusually long five-plus hours to get to Jaipur, and even though it was a Sun=day the old city was open, Diwali is next Saturday after all. Because it is tourist season and there was a match going on, we ended up staying in a fairly downmarket, yet not uncomfortable hotel called Hotel Neelam off MI Road.
We made our way to the stadium soon afterwards, my friend had gotten us some really swank tickets - in the Rajasthan Cricket Association President's Box. Lots of glass, airconditioned, Plasma TV's, free food and well soft drinks. The aircon was great, but the place had. Not bad. But then the match started, and my god I wished I was in the heat and not in a sound-proofed room, I just did for some strange reason, this is not a good way to watch a game, but there was no lack of enthsiasm among the folks inside, hey even I did my fair share of jumping around. We were pretty much on top of the wicket and though the sightscreen did cut out our view a bit, it was a pretty good place to sit. Much better than the Vithal Divecha pavilion at Wankhede.
England put up more of a fight than they did. All out for 125, in fact once Pathan got Strauss and Flintoff, the game was pretty much over. Freddie Flintoff is like the talisman of the team, once he goes the team collapses. Kevin Pietersen did provide some fireworks with a few fours, but 125 was pathetic. Great bowling by Patel and Pathan and even Romesh Powar, though Bhajji took an awesome catch!
Then we started the innings, and Sachin, Sehwag and after the latter departed for 9, Pathan started hitting the ball everywhere in an eight over burst before dinner. That was fun. But why it took us 30 overs to win is beyond me. It was crazy, as if someone had taken a side bet if India will take 30-plus overs to win, I even heard murmurs of such side-match 'arrangements'. But why did we lose six wickets. I mean 126/6 is not a great score by any stretch. Anyway, net-net it was fun. Fun enough for me to decide that I will go to Mohali to watch India play the Australians, that should be a good match!
I still don't understand what the scene with the fireworks in the middle of the innings was? It was just surreal. Anyway, I got back to Delhi earlier today, traffic and speeds were a lot better on the highway, but Gurgaon traffic in the middle of the day sucks, it took almost an hour to get from Gurgaon to Delhi. To be fair, the traffic pile-up starts at Dharuhera, 40kms before Gurgaon. But driving is still the fastest and most convinient way to Jaipur. And I got a great pic of the Amer Fort while leaving, the morning sun was beautiful. I should really go to Jaipur again soon.