First-person reports from the stands
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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