The most innovative use of cardboard placards at a cricket ground perhaps came during the Hero Cup in 1993, when the Eden Gardens stands were lit up after India’s triumph.
With strict security in place at matches these days, cardboards cannot be set alight. But the manner in which a major section of the crowd hurled placards after Mumbai Indians’ last-ball victory against Pune Warriors at the Wankhede Stadium was as baffling as the home team’s slow batting.
Was it the way to celebrate the Mumbai Indians’ maiden victory at home, after the disappointment against Kochi Tuskers on Friday? Or was it a sign of protest after Sachin Tendulkar and Co made a target of 119 look like a mammoth one, stretching the match? Or was it out of sheer joy of having been spared of an agonising run chase?
Probably it was a combination of all three factors. But certainly the seven-wicket win that was completed with Rohit Sharma's last-ball six over cover off Murali Kartik with scores tied was the least convincing of their three so far.
When Abu Nechim and Munaf Patel created havoc early on by picking up two wickets each in their first overs to reduce the Warriors at 17 for four in the fifth over, the game looked all but over. And despite losing makeshift opener James Franklin, the Mumbai Indians were cruising towards the target till Tendulkar was dismissed first time in the tournament.
Tendulkar, having been distracted by the spider camera on a number of occasions, mistimed a lofted shot off Rahul Sharma and holed out to Alfonso Thomas on the long-on fence. In the next over, Ambati Rayudu perished attempting to up the ante. Then on, Rohit Sharma and Symonds, especially the former, found it tough to get going. As the contest got intense, the crowd was started getting restive with every dot ball.
Eventually, after a tight last over, Rohit and Symonds heaved a sigh of relief. So did the full house at Wankhede.