England v India, 3rd Test, The Oval, 1st day August 9, 2007

A Sehwag shot and a special ovation for Sachin



James Anderson got rid of Rahul Dravid with a peach of a delivery © Getty Images
Are you Sehwag in disguise?: This ground has seen a few big hits in its time, including Percy Fender's remarkable swipe over cover and out of the ground, but there can have been few sixes as unexpected as the one that Wasim Jaffer struck. The way he carved a wide ball from James Anderson over point, you had to look closely just to make sure that it wasn't Virender Sehwag at the crease.

A Jaffa before tea, thank you: On featherbeds such as this, matches can turn on a delivery. Rahul Dravid was batting so beautifully before tea that it prompted a former colleague to say that he'd eat his cat if the Indian captain didn't get a century. But a combination of late swing at sharp pace and Dravid playing inside the line gave England a glimmer of hope. After all, South Africa had been 290 for 1 before they lost their way in 2003.

The umpiring saga continues: It was Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly missing hundreds thanks to some decidedly ordinary umpiring at Trent Bridge. Here, it was again Ganguly's turn, with Ian Howell missing an inside edge so thick it probably took a splinter off. There was a vociferous appeal but that meant very little, not when the fielders were appealing with the ball not even in the same borough as Tendulkar's bat.

Oh, for a jelly bean: One person who could have benefited from an assortment of jelly beans was Matt Prior. At least, a boiled sweet that made the gloves sticky might have helped him gather a ball or two. The dropped chance off Sidebottom with Tendulkar on 20 made you wonder what might have happened had a certain Steve Waugh been at the crease - presumably a jibe that included the words "You", "series" and "dropped" in a particular order.

Where have all the klaxons gone?: Oval Tests back in the '80s, especially those involving the mighty West Indians, were usually an excuse for one big party, with klaxons, portable cassette players and the Rastaman flavour. On Thursday, it was all very genteel, and you couldn't help but think that sport has lost something with the increased gentrification of the game.

The Special One: No, Jose Mourinho wasn't at the Oval, but Tendulkar was, and he emerged to a standing ovation, with almost everyone in the ground conscious that it would be his last Test match in England. There was nothing like the same acclaim for Dravid or Sourav Ganguly, even though their contributions to Indian cricket have been no less valuable. It's all about the aura though, and you'd much rather a crowd wallowed in nostalgia than indulge in the sort of disgraceful scenes witnessed in Mumbai last year, when his home crowd booed Tendulkar off the pitch.

History and Hoardings: Perhaps no other ground in the world resonates with as much history as the Oval. It was here that the Ashes legend began, here that Don Bradman played his final innings, here that Viv Richards (291) and Michael Holding (14 for 149) made England and Tony Greig grovel. But in its modern incarnation, the Oval is just another giant billboard like most other grounds. Starting with the "Welcome to the Brit Oval" signs, it's hard to come across a spot in the eye line that isn't hoarding-infested. How much longer before the outfield grass too is sold by the square metre?

Dileep Premachandran is associate editor of Cricinfo