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The curtain call

Bangalore offered some of the best cricketing moments to savour in its quota of World Cup matches

Photo: Bhagya Prakash K,

A time to savour The matches at the Chinnaswamy stadium gave the crowds plenty to cheer about

Merry men whipped out their mobile phones and clicked a few “I-was-there” pictures at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on a Wednesday night. The floodlights dimmed, the crowd vanished and just a few sports scribes chasing tight deadlines were present as Bangalore bid adieu to its quota of World Cup matches with Australia defeating Canada.

The men meanwhile plonked themselves on the outfield, some lay sprawled on the turf and struck expansive poses before they moved away after being prodded by the security personnel, who in an equally relieved mood were willing to spare those extra seconds of indulgence to the fans.

The mix of joy, relief and memories was a direct contrast to the mood that permeated the cricketing fraternity out here when the World Cup's initial quota of matches was allocated to Bangalore. A sense of disappointment had rippled across then because of the sheer absence of a top-drawer match. Even the clash between India and Ireland seemed a tad too tepid despite its potential to whip up patriotic fervour.

Destiny then made its own plans and when news-wires buzzed about Kolkata being overlooked for the game between India and England,

Bangalore emerged as the front-runner. The Karnataka State Cricket Association president Anil Kumble and secretary Javagal Srinath made the right moves and the city had finally got its cricketing box-office scorcher.

In the lead up to that epochal contest on February 27, images of the scuffle outside ticket counters and the legislators' penchant for negative hyperbole meant that a bad taste lingered everywhere. Once the game began, all was forgotten and the fans had a game to savour all their lives.

Both teams scored 338 and a tie was the perfect finish that honoured the efforts of both Sachin Tendulkar (120) and Andrew Strauss (158).World Cup fever was truly on a high at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and a David-Goliath act was also delivered to add extra zing to Bangaloreans.

Until William Porterfield's men with their outrageously coloured hair, all for a noble cause to raise awareness about cancer, derailed England, the only clue about Ireland was restricted to the term Irish Coffee in some cafés.

Porterfield, with an accent that sounded like he had many marbles in his mouth, punctured England's halo and Ireland was buzzing big-time. Kevin O'Brien's pulse-pounding 113 personified Houdini as Ireland came from behind to leave England shell-shocked.

Suddenly the clutch of matches that the city had gained did not seem so anaemic and the India-Ireland joust had acquired the trappings of a cracker. A full-house witnessed another dogged Irish resistance though India huffed and puffed towards victory.

The Australians then settled down here for two matches against weak teams like Kenya and Canada. Both Kenya and Canada refused to keel over in deference to the defending champion's halo though Australia won with an inevitable air.

The sheer geographical extent of Indian Diaspora was on full view as Tanmay Mishra's parents and brother, who is studying medicine at Manipal, rooted for Kenya from the corporate box adjacent to the press enclosure.

When Canada tilted at the windmills, cries of “Bala, Bala” rent the air as a clutch of fans egged Balaji Rao against the Aussies.

The leg-spinner's family was in splits as one supporter yelled “Balaji ki jai!” and the tweaker acknowledged the cheers.

Cricket largely lived up to its “glorious-uncertainties” tagline at Bangalore and now it will be a lull before the proverbial storm while the Indian Premier League wends its way here in April.

K.C. VIJAYA KUMAR

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