Yesterday, I was at Chepauk to watch the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab (KXI). The match started at 8.00 PM and it is a totally different experience to watch the match at the ground. It has its own charm as well as its inconvenience.
For the match starting at 8.00 PM, I have to leave home at 5.15 PM, a good 2.45 hours before the match. The reason being that I have to reach Chepauk after completing my dinner (!!) as I was advised that the food was not good at all inside the stadium and very costly as well. So I started at 5.15 PM went for a dinner at Hotel Sangeetha on Ethiraj Salai, Egmore. This is becoming one of my favourite restaurants nowadays. I love the Gobi Manjurian, however bad it is made, but here in Sangeetha I simply love the way they make it. So by the time we finished the dinner it was 6.45 pm. We have already arranged with my friend that I would come and park my two-wheeler at their house, which is incidentally a stone throw away from the Chepauk stadium.
I didn't explore the option of taking my car and bothering myself with finding a parking place inside or near the stadium. Later I found out that the best place to park your car is to park it inside the MLA Hostel (Omandurar Government Estate) on the Mount Road corner. You may have to walk upto the stadium, a good km or so away. Try it out!!
The gate 11 is on the Bells Road and when we entered it there are at least two levels of security check. There is a metal detector as well as physical frisking of males. I don't know why females are exempted. There are strict rules of what you can carry inside the stadium. You are not allowed to carry camera, lighter, water bottles, handbags and many other stuff. The detailed terms and conditions are given at the back of the ticket. Another thing you have to careful when you go is to ensure that your ticket has a hologram sticked on to it. There is a possibility that the hologram sticker may fall off from the ticket and you would be denied entry. Tickets without holograms are not allowed entry. Finally when I entered the Stadium it was 7.10 or so and a good 50 minutes before the start of the match. IPL matches have entertainment before the match and yesterday it was Vikku Vinayakram, a world renowned Ghattam artist. I was in E stand from where you get to see the mid-wicket angle. After Vinayakram's Ghattam, tamil film songs were played before the toss. The toss happened at 7.30 PM and Kings XI won and decided to field.
The match was entertaining as for every ball, the crowd starts cheering. It was unbelievable to see the energy levels displayed by the crowd in the stadium. You probably don't realise it as long as you watch it on the TV but the noise of the crowd is really deafening in the stadium. I really wonder how the players are able to concentrate and play in spite of loud noise from the crowd. In addition to the noise of the crowd, IPL matches also has the filmi music going on between the overs. The stand I was sitting, E Stand, had its own set of cheer-groups who danced for every boundary or a wicket. But the energy levels went down for these un-official cheer-group after the first innings.
Chennai started well and slowly built their innings. I prayed that Badrinath come good atleast in this match and he truly delivered yesterday. Badrinath played a beautiful innings of 60+ and Dhoni ably supported him throughout. Chennai finished with a decent score to bowl at.
During the break, we went out and found that the corridors are fully occupied. You can hardly move without hitting against the person coming on the opposite side or one who is standing in front of you. I dont know why the organisers have to allow drinks, coffee and other things to sold in that narrow corridor.
Kings XI started with a flourish. Chennai desperately needed a break-through and Hopes didnt dash my hope. He got out and slowly started taking control. L Balaji who has started playing after a 3 years break, bagged a hat-trick and sealed the fate of Kings XI. When the match was almost in CSK's hands, Irfan Pathan and Piyush Chawla made one last attempt to wrest the initiative. Irfan and Piyush hit a flurry of boundaries and sixes but luckily CSK held on to their nerves and won the match comfortably in the end.
After the match got over, there was a mad rush to exit the stands through one of the gates. We patiently waited in the queue only to find out that it is a spectators exit but an exit for vendors. It was really uncomfortable navigating through heavy logs on the ground. I again wonder why no clear exit signs are not pasted in the corridors. There is no light in the urinal and as usual it stinks. The apathy of the organisers towards these basic necessities is really appalling. The tickets are sold at very high rates and you end up having no basic amenities.
Overall, I really enjoyed a day out watching the IPL match. Having dinner before the match was the best thing to have happened as we were able to enjoy every bit of cricket and entertainment without worrying about food. It is a good way to begin your annual holiday and I plan to wrap up my holiday with another match on May 24. Lets see, if I am able to make it.