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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
It was India v Australia and the first day-night match at the magnificent VCA stadium, which is the international cricket stadium closest to my town. No temptation could be bigger. I was seated in the North Wing, at the Secretary End.
Favourite player from the two sides
Though I was supporting India, my favourite player is the swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus. He didn't bowl well, though, and disappointed me. The only positive was that he bowled from my end, so I got to see him and his action closely.
Face-off I relished
Mitchell Johnson and Virender Sehwag. It was evident from the start that Viru was looking for a rapid start. He smashed Johnson for a six over long-on, which the bowler understandably did not like at all. By then the crowd were nurturing hopes of a quickfire Sehwag hundred. But it was not to be. Johnson got his man off a full-length delivery, and boy, did he cherish it.
One thing I'd have changed about the match
The dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar for just four runs. Tendulkar needed 83 runs to get to the 17,000-run mark and the crowd was hopeful that he would do it here, where he has a superb record. His dismissal sent a wave of discontent across the stadium.
Entertainer of the match
This has to go to Yuvraj Singh. During the first drinks break he called one of the Foster's girls over, making a very eager hand gesture, for a drink. That got the crowd in business. When India came out to field he was seen being playful with the crowd and the players around him on a regular basis.
Shaun Marsh, Hilfenhaus, Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj all fielded at the boundary near us. No marks for guessing which of them got the biggest cheers.
The sight of Paine's stumps cartwheeling off a Praveen Kumar delivery. That over was bowled from the end opposite the one I was at, and the stumps at the batsman's end were clearly visible. That got the crowd going after the dinner break.
Wow moment II
The MS Dhoni-Mitchell Johnson collision as the former went for a quick single. Dhoni gave Johnson a long stare and the crowd got into the act, shouting "Oye".
The crowd was fabulous. We got into the stadium about 90 minutes before the start of play and there were about 15,000 people in. The noise they made was unbelievable and got us wondering what the full crowd, of 45,000, would do. The DJ helped keep them going, with some popular music. The South Wing was visibly sparsely populated due to the overpricing of tickets. That was disappointing, as every other stand was full. The crowd in the East Wing was the most active, initiating Mexican waves frequently. The mood dipped only when India lost their third wicket and people began to think of an early arduous return journey (the stadium is about 20km out of the city). Tendulkar fielded near the West Wing and the crowd made a hell of a noise when he first went there.
Banner of the day
There were very few banners but one that stood out had Sourav Ganguly's picture and written alongside it: "We miss you Dada".
Delivery of the day
The one that hit Dhoni on the helmet early in his innings.
Marks out of 10
8.5. It could have been higher had Australia showed some spirit in their chase. For a hardcore India fan, 10 is not enough.
It was wonderful to see India win but after the fall of the third Australian wicket it seemed the match was virtually over, and the crowd started to leave for practical reasons. The last 10 overs of the Indian innings were the highlight. It was good to see Australia play aggressively and India give it back not with words but performances.
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