There is a certain amusement of watching a match at Chinnaswamy. The small boundaries make for entertaining T20 games - bowlers lose their minds, but boy, do the audiences get their money’s worth!
It is also a venue that houses one of the most passionate crowds in the world. Despite paying more money to get in than any other venue in the county, Bengaluru crowd rally behind their team with full focus. Be it in the IPL or when India take the field, their passion hardly wavers.
On Wednesday (January 17), the partisan crowd, however, couldn’t wait longer. When Fareed Ahmad, playing his first game of the series, lured Yashasvi Jaiswal to sky his good-length ball to Mohammad Nabi at mid-on, instead of grim silences, they erupted into a massive roar. It was the time for King Kohli, after all.
After staying away from India’s T20 plans for a year and a half, Virat Kohli had finally made his appearance at Chinnaswamy - and the situation was tailor-made for him too to reaffirm his new-found intent. But all it lasted was just one ball.
Trying to slice it to mid-off, Kohli handed a catch to skipper Ibrahim Zadran, and all of a sudden, Fareed Ahmad had become a hero for the Afghans. It was the first golden duck of Kohli’s T20 career.
It wasn’t the end of suffering for the Indian fans, though. Azmatullah Omarzai, in the very next over, induced an edge off Shivam Dube, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz diving to his left to grab an excellent catch. Sanju Samson soon followed suit, leaving the side reeling at 22/4 in 4.3 overs against a second-string Afghanistan bowling attack.
It was futuristic of India to decide to bat first on a venue that has such an asymmetric record of favouring the chasing side. It was a strategic call induced to understand their preparedness for the bigger events - which now seems to have gone wasted. At least from judging the top-order perspective.
Thankfully, for India, there is a whole Indian Premier League ahead. An event that will give a true representation of where they stand in the lead-up to the ICC T20 World Cup in the USA and the West Indies. The collapse of Chinnaswamy would hardly matter in the larger scheme of things, but for the partisan crowd, a tinge of disappointment was only natural.
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