Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

India v Pakistan, third ODI, Delhi

How to deal with freezing temperatures

Nothing warms you up better than a victory for your side over its arch rival. Though, a quilt would be welcome, Kotla authorities

Nikhil Jha

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A
Saeed Ajmal sets off for a run after dismissing Suresh Raina, India v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Delhi, January 6, 2013
Saeed Ajmal: performer of the day © BCCI
Related Links
Players/Officials: Virat Kohli | Ajinkya Rahane | Saeed Ajmal
Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of India

Choice of game
One of the blockbuster fixtures of cricketing rivalry - India v Pakistan was coming to town, and there was no way I would have passed on an opportunity to watch it. The poor form of our team, the freezing weather or the perceptible pessimism amongst the fans were not enough to deter me from attending the match.

The only thing that could have stopped me was the ticket availability. Thankfully that was taken care of by my generous friends, and we set out hoping for a match that justified its blockbuster status.

Team supported
Although supporting India has been downright depressing during the past year, this is no time to discontinue the support. A test for us fans too.Team India all the way!

Key performer
Saeed Ajmal's mesmerising bowling performance stood out for me. I could not see how MS Dhoni won the match award ahead of Ajmal.

An honourable mention must go to Ravindra Jadeja, the player we fans love to hate, for a decent batting performance considering the situation, a brilliant bowling spell and a super fielding performance.

One thing you'd have changed about the day
If I am allowed to be really wishful, I would have hopped aboard a TARDIS and brought back the Indian team from the 2011 World Cup. That team had players who had passion, resolve and a lot of hunger.

Other than time travel, I would have a liked to see a much better batting performance from India. I know we won, but it was only because Pakistan messed up an easy chase. It was a case of "whatever you can do, we can do worse".

And how can I forget the weather! The stadium authorities should have handed a complimentary quilt to all fans who braved the elements.

Face-off I relished
I really wanted to see the Indian top order, especially Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli face Pakistan pace attack. Pakistan seamers won that contest hands down.

Wow moment
We were seriously mulling on heading back after India's abysmal batting performance, which, combined with the near-zero temperature made watching unbearable. But we chose to stick around and see India's efforts in the field before taking a call. And what an effort it was! It was heartening to see the fielding compliment the tight bowling, adding to the pressure, which is critical while defending a low total.

The moment that exemplified that resolve in the field was Rahane's brilliant diving effort in the fourth over. He made a full-length dive inside the circle to cut off a boundary. All the fielders, especially Raina, came from across the ground to pat him on the back. The fielders were all charged up, and as you would expect, the result was electrifying.

Shot of the day
In the last ODI I watched at Kotla, Kohli's century and strokeplay had decimated England. Here, he started with a silken wristy shot that blazed to the midwicket boundary rope. Alas, that was the only spark we saw, as he flattered to deceive.

Crowd meter
It was heartening to see people turn up in good numbers, even for a dead rubber. With all the naysayers and sceptics mocking India's performance on social media and beyond, I had a sinking feeling that the stands may be vacant. Glad to be proven wrong!

The stands were more or less full, and it was great to see quite a few neighbours from across the border make it for the match. We had a few Pakistan supporters in our stands, and the see-saw nature of the match meant a few friendly banters were exchanged, followed by acknowledging cheers from both camps.

The Pakistan fans had a field day during the Indian innings and parts of the Pakistan innings, with their cheers heard all over the stands. But once India pulled up their act in the field, chants of "India, India" resonated across the stadium, making it come alive. The occasional Mexican wave also kept the spectators on their feet.

The most recognisable India fan was in our stands, and he was given mini-celebrity status with people queuing up for a photograph with him. He had replaced the ever-present "Tendulkar" painted on his body with "Miss You Tendulkar".

Personally, I thought his chants were in bad taste. It is one thing to cheer for your team and another to jeer the opponents. That too, when you are like an ambassador for Indian fans across the globe.

I wish we had carried a portable heater.

The weather was not the only thing that sent shivers down our spine. The Indian batting performance worsened the plight of the fans. India can learn from the quality of Pakistan's bowling. Thankfully, the opening spells of Indian seamers showed that all is not lost. India's fielding performance was really top-notch and helped increase the overall quality of the cricket. The crowd, cheering in spurts, came to life on seeing some heart put on the field. It was an enjoyable experience overall, barring the extreme cold weather.

Marks on 10
7. One of the lowest totals to be defended and an exciting finish to the game. Points deducted for the appalling batting performances of both sides, leading to a lot of boring spells for the fans.

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Nikhil Jha is a 27-year-old sports fanatic, whose contributions to the world of sports were cut short by typical middle-class ambitions that saw him negotiate four years at IIT Bombay, and two unsure professional experiences. He has now decided to chase his calling with a couple of sports ventures - SportsWave, to enable people rediscover the joy of playing sports, and Big Show, a sports portal he hopes will become the second most adored after ESPNcricinfo.

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Posted by KAMRAN on (January 8, 2013, 3:58 GMT)

1st Odi total if misbah was not out 170, 2nd Odi if Misbah was not out 200. think about it how Lucky pakistan was that he didn't till the end of each inning lol

Posted by KAMRAN on (January 8, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

Don't worry India Misbah is with you, he is always going to be loyal like he was in semi, and this last odi he swears of not scoring runs with proper strike whenever india gets him out early they lose but indians were smart enough this time and they won. Great Job Dhoni you r the best of the best unlike pakistani captain u did more than what a captain can do first Match you scored half of the total "Not Out" Second Another courageous Innings "Not Out"

Posted by Jo on (January 7, 2013, 23:16 GMT)

MOM for MSD is apt for this match. Batting in cold conditions is extremely hard especially subcontinent players (both Pak & Ind). Mistimings with the bat are the most frequent occurrences. Fielding is another challenge. I think team India did well in this match than team Pakistan managed. Remember no significant injuries at the end of match. Look like except batting, everything else given a hint of what the capabilities of both team members. Hope they gain confidence from here and play well, especially India against english men. Would like to see eng get tormented this time :-)

Posted by Faisal on (January 7, 2013, 21:15 GMT)

Dhoni got the Man of the Match award to boost his morale ... :)

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 7, 2013, 15:30 GMT)

Can anyone explains why they gave MOM award to MS.D? What about Ajmal? Its second time they have done this. Shameful act by MOM awards committee. @Sudhire65, come on friend,, be realistic.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 7, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

Indian batting was worst then bangladesh and kenya, this odi proved one thing indian batting is only good in ipl or against non playing test countries.

Posted by Sudhir on (January 7, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

There was chaos outisde when I tried to buy tickets. Authorities, as usual, were not ready for huge rush. They were clueleless as far as smooth organization goes. I believe MSD did fully deserve his MOM award and with 2 MOM awards in this ODI series, he was the only worthy recipient of the MOS award as well.

Posted by Sandeep on (January 7, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

@rabia Naqvi- dont be a die hard fan of you team. You love your team that doesnt mean that anything can say. Now if pak has accepted this offer that means they still are into the betting. So Pak team should be banned for this. India played well in this match and won. Pak played weel in first 2 matches so they won. that is all. not like when your team losses it thrr bribe or anything like that.

Posted by Sriram on (January 7, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

Add MOM choice to the disappointment. Ajmal deserved hands down..he may chuck but that is within the law of ICC, he too 5 for in these conditions and deserved it.

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