Die-hards fans of Royal Challengers Bangalore flocked to the Chinnaswamy stadium late Sunday again praying for a win over underdogs Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League to remain in contention for a berth in the play-offs.
With RCB captain Daniel Vettori opting out, dashing batsman Virat Kohli led the side for the second time though he did not get to play as a substitute captain against Chennai Super Kings April 25 on home turf as the tie that was abandoned due to a heavy downpour.
The fans were also delighted to see legendary Sri Lankan spinner Muthaiah Muralitharan back into the team and cheered him when he came to bowl the seventh over in which he conceded just two runs but troubled both the openers Daniel Harris and Shikhar Dawan, who batted at ease to put up 86-run partnership for the first wicket in 71 balls.
Former Sri Lankan captain Tillakartne Dilshan also returned to the team.
Local lad Abhimanyu Mithun and newly-signed Prashanth Parameswaran, the left-handed paceman from Kerala, were the two players who were included in the team, while left-arm spinner Syed Mohammed was back in the final XI.
RCB recently signed Parameswaran, who was part of the Kochi Tuskers outfit in the 2011 season of the IPL.
Fans bet on Gayle, Kohli, de Villiers to bail out RCB
Around 25,000 spectators waited with bated breath for the turn of the home team to bat and watch explosive southpaw Chris Gayale set the stands on fire with his mighty sixes and fours.
With 99 sixes in the IPL tournament, Gayle is on the verge of setting a record if he hits the 100th sixer on the home ground.
Fans are also hoping Kohli will strike form this time to make the hosts bounce back to winning streak, with in-form wicket-keeper AB de Villiers chipping in as in the previous games.
“We keep coming back to the stadium just to watch Gayle hit sixes and fours. It is a sheer delight to see how he hits the ball all over the ground while remaining cool and composed. He has all the grace and style to play in this (T20) format and has been the backbone of RCB in batting,” 28-year-old software engineer V. Sashidar told IANS in the stands.
Tough time for cops as huge fans’ turnout chokes roads
With the rain gods and clouds keeping away on a cool Sunday night, about 300 traffic policemen had a tough time around the stadium as hundreds of vehicles, including cars, autos, bikes and buses choked all roads in the heart of the city and caused a hour long gridlock due to huge turn out of fans for the crucial league tie.
Even as thousands of fans came in droves to watch the match from first ball, shoppers and weekend visitors to the central business district had a harrowing time in downtown due to restrictions imposed on vehicular movement and ban on parking around the stadium.
“In addition to regulating the traffic on thoroughfares around the stadium due to the match, we also had to divert hundreds of vehicles bringing shoppers, visitors and leisure travellers into the heart of the city to prevent grid locks. Lack of lane discipline and reckless driving by many are reasons for traffic jams,” lamented a senior police official.