IT’S amazing to see how much attention the Master Blaster still commands. Six months after taking retirement from international cricket following his 200th Test match at Eden Garden, the delirious crowd at the PCA Stadium greeted Sachin Tendulkar with wild and rapturous applause as the Indian batting great stepped on the pitch.
That was an hour before the beginning of the IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians as the batting maestro, who is the mentor of the Mumbai team, put on his batting gloves and trained with the team, egging on them to come up with a solid performance. It was a sight to behold as fans lapped up and tried to capture these moments on their cameras and they went berserk when Sachin waved at the crowd.
With IPL cricket returning to the home ground almost after a year and the Punjab team staking their claim at the top of points table, fans savoured every moment at the stadium. “I had booked the ticket in advance as I did not want to miss out on the action. The Punjab team is in great form and I wanted to watch Glenn Maxwell and David Miller bat,” said Kanwaljit Singh, a resident of Ludhiana.
Having already made it to the playoff with nine wins of 11 matches, Punjab were playing at their home ground for the first time in the tournament. With two more matches lined up in the next four days, fans hope to see the home team rack up maximum points from these matches. “This year the team is performing exceptionally well. They were very disappointing in the past seasons but this season they might be the champions.
It is possible and I will be here for the next two matches to cheer for the home team. Also, it is good to see local cricketers such as Sandeep Sharma and Manan Vohra do well for the team,” said Nikhil Kumar, who came from Patiala to watch the match.
As expected, fans had a rollicking time after the home team put on 90 runs in 10 overs, with homeboy Manan Vohra in great form. However, the stadium became silent when three batsmen — Shaun Marsh, Manan Vohra and Glenn Maxwell — the player with the orange cap, were dismissed for the addition of mere six runs. The mood turned sombre as the Mumbai bowlers put brakes on the run rate and Punjab scrambled to 156 for 8 in 20 overs.
Later, led by a belligerent Lendl Simmons, who smashed a century, Mumbai Indians won by seven wickets with an over to spare. With this, Kings XI Punjab lost two their matches to the Mumbai outfit, one being earlier in the tournament. “We were hoping to see the team win on its home turf. I am sure they will bounce back in their next match,” said Harpreet Kaur, a resident of Mohali.