Some street vendors were racking up business by putting TVs on their stalls, with an instant crowd squatting in front. An over or two of this might be fine, but I needed a seat.


Luck was on my side when I ran into a friend who suggested the local dive, Gokuls.  It was dark and smoky inside, and the smell of beer hit our nostrils, but hey, we got in.


Patrons chanted in Marathi and Hindi for the local favourites. Which were?  Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals (part owned by Lachlan Murdoch). When the match started the bar erupted.


Every six, every wicket, was greeted with cheers.  When Shane Watson got the wicket of Suresh Raina, a call of “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” went up.  The caller forgot the “Aussie, Oi” after the second line and we went on shouting “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” until the next over.


But it wasn’t all beer and cheers. For some, there was a lot at stake. 

A man at the next table had bet 25 lakh on Rajasthan. That’s 2,500,000 rupees or $A62,000. Others had big bets too. The tension was relieved by wolf whistles whenever the cameras focused on the cheerleaders.


It was the same when I saw the opening match, between the Mumbai Indians and the Bangalore Royal Challengers at Wankhede stadium - the girls must have needed oestrogen top-ups to counteract the testosterone directed their way by 45,000 sweaty, ecstatic men hemmed in with me in the over-crowded, cheap stands.


By the end of the final match Warne was everyone’s favourite cricketing hero, with calls today for him to be the next Indian coach.  Perhaps now I can stop pretending to be a New Zealander.

 

Alexander Jhabvala Pos in Mumbai

TRYING to find a place to watch the final of the Indian Premier League in Mumbai was an impossible task.  Two hours before the game and the pubs were already full.