Bangalore, April 20 (IANS) Frenzied fans came in droves late Saturday to rock the Chinnaswamy stadium, shrugging off the terror blast here Wednesday for an exciting Pepsi IPL-6 T-20 match between hosts Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), led by local lad Rahul Dravid.
With unprecedented security cover turning the stadium into a fortress, thousands of fans had tough time in reaching the venue in downtown and entering the stands as they had to go through stringent checks by baton-wielding cops and gun-totting guards.
"As the city has been on high alert after the bomb blast in the north-west suburb, we had to enforce stringent security in and around the stadium to ensure the safety of players and thousands of fans and prevent any untoward incident," a senior police official told IANS at the main gate.
Besides deploying about 1,000 police personnel, including Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Rapid Armed Force (RAF) around the stadium, a bomb squad and a dog squad were pressed into service to detect explosive materials and sniff out trouble makers.
Closed circuit television cameras and surveillance systems were also activated to record movement of fans, vehicles and the high-octane match in the middle.
"Though we were initially apprehensive in coming to the stadium due to the uneasy situation in the city after the blast, weekend holiday and the excitement to watch the in-form RCB team play made us to be here and were surprised to see a capacity crowd across the stands," Biju George, a marketing executive, told IANS in the KSCA club box.
Legendary Test batsman Rahul Dravid and Stuart Binny, who hail from Bangalore but play for RR, were lustily cheered and treated with standing ovation when they walked into the middle to bat in the first half after RCB skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to field first.
Hailed as 'The 'wall' of the Indian Test team for over a decade, the 40-year-old Dravid is a household name in this city of nine million denizens and is etched on a wall in his trademark batting style at the entrance of this pavilion.
When Dravid walked onto the green turf, first to toss and later to bat after Royals opener Shane Watson fell in third over, fans erupted in joy and clapped in unison to greet their local hero though playing for the opposite team.
Though Dravid didn't last long in the middle, as he got caught by Ravi Rampaul of Murali Karthik ball for 35 in the 15th over, for every shot he played and the five glorious boundaries he hit, his die-hard fans rocked the stands, dancing, whistling and screaming.
Stuart, son of yesteryear all-rounder Roger Binny from Bangalore, joined Dravid after non-striker Ajinkya Rahane was out for 14 in sixth over, and the two 'local lads' played for five overs together, contributing a valuable 40-run third wicket partnership.
"Dravid is a sheer joy to watch play even after he retired from first class cricket two years ago. Though an all-time great Test batsman, he has been in good form even in the shorter version of the game. We are all proud of him and miss him play for the home team (RCB). No regrets so long he plays for RR as it is a delight to watch him stroke the bat," said Ganpathy Subramaniam, a college cricketer.
Incidentally, Dravid was the highest scorer with 35 of 31 balls for RR followed by Binny with 33 of 20 balls, including four hits to the boundary and one mighty six over the fence.
Three cheers for RCB's bowling & fielding
The clinical bowling and fielding of RCB came for a lot of praise in the stands, as the home team not only restricted an in-form RR to a paltry 117 for nine wickets in 19.4 overs, but its athletic players caught all the eight catches that came their way.
What's more, none of its five bowlers conceded a single extra either by a no ball, byes, leg byes or even wide, which is common in the T-20 format.
Of the five bowlers, four are seamers - Ravi Rampaul, R.P. Singh, Jaidev Unakdat and Vinay Kumar and one a spinner -- Murali Kartik. Rampaul even managed to bowl a maiden in his 3.4 overs show, taking two wickets, including that of RR opener (Shane) Watson in third over, while Singh and Kumar shared three wickets each.