The Palam cricket ground in Delhi has a certain old-school look about it. The moment one comes off the Dwarka road and into the gate of the Air Force station where the cricket ground is located, the difference in surroundings is palpable. There are no stands, no press boxes. On Ground A, Uttarakhand are playing Baroda. Just beside, on Ground B, Services, who play their home games in Palam are squaring off against Tripura. Baroda batted first and their skipper Kedar Devdhar smashed an aggressive 61. However, for the smattering of fans who stood outside the ground and braved the barbed wire over the walls, their main focus was Yusuf Pathan.
Yusuf, who was part of the 2011 World Cup winning squad, still continues to carry the charisma and mass fan following eight years since that glorious 2011. The right-hander did not disappoint and he thrilled his fans with a blazing 47 off 32 balls. For Uttarakhand, Rajat Bhatia, who has been Delhi’s stalwart for so many years and currently plying his trade with a side who topped the Plate Division and entered the Ranji Trophy quarter-final.
During Uttarakhand’s chase, they had lost their skipper Bhatia cheaply for 12. However, Karanveer Kaushal remained. One of the Services net bowlers, who had bowled to Karanveer in the nets recently, remarked, “Baroda must get Karanveer out quickly or the game is up for them.” Karanveer fell for 25 but Vaibhav Panwar and Saurabh Rawat steadied the ship.
In the middle of the chase, Baroda indulged in some banter involving a dialogue from the film Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Alia Bhatt. When one fielder from the deep threw a ball flat and hard to the keeper, the Baroda fielders yelled towards the Uttarakhand dug-out, “Bahut Hard Ball pheki bhai.” This line is from one of the popular songs in Gully Boys and the match was reaching an interesting stage.
Rawat and Panwar got Uttarkahand closer and it was the turn of the players to sledge Baroda in return. When Panwar struck a boundary off left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt, the Uttarakhand players shouted, “Hard Hai, Hard Hai.” In the opposite ground where the Services vs Tripura clash was taking place, the Gully Boy effect seemed to be rubbing off on the Tripura players. Services were coasting towards a comprehensive win but Tripura’s support staff and players indulged in some banter by shouting, “Apna time aayega (Our time will come)” from the same film.
Services and Baroda won. Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh were waiting in the wings for their next games. Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina and Mohammed Siraj were waiting to have a go at each other. But, the Mushtaq Ali clash was a tribute to Gully Boy. The charm of domestic cricket came out in the open.