Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Australia v Pakistan, 1st Twenty20, Edgbaston

Going, going, gone green

It's not as sophisticated as Lord's or thrilling as Karachi, but an under-renovation Edgbaston will do for this Pakistan fan looking for an Aussie defeat

Maha Hussain

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A
Saeed Ajmal claimed three wickets as Pakistan surged to victory by 23 runs, Australia v Pakistan, 1st Twenty20, Edgbaston, July 5, 2010
Saeed Ajmal erased the ghosts of the World Twenty20 semi-final © Getty Images

The game
Give me a cricket match venue it is physically possible for me to get to and I'll be there. This was largely a last-minute affair, with me and my family booking tickets barely 24 hours before the game. It was a bit of a drive from London to Birmingham, but I wasn't going to miss the chance to watch Pakistan v Australia, and my first game at Edgbaston. Considering Pakistan had lost their previous 12 encounters against Australia, I was predicting a 13th loss, though hoping for the opposite to happen. I was pleasantly surprised.

Team supported
Pakistan, without a doubt. I did root for Shane Watson to perform well. But it clearly didn't make a difference as he departed for a duck.

Key performer
Umar Akmal, the only meaningful contributor to Pakistan's score, with a delightful 64 off 31. The green lips were an interesting touch too. That said, Umar Gul and Mohammed Aamer had pretty impressive spells, particularly towards the end.

One thing I'd have changed
The horrendously annoying bunch of guys a couple of rows in front of me holding up a flag literally the size of the pitch. Some heated exchanges (i.e. yelling) took place before they finally sat down and everyone behind them could get a view of the cricket.

As always, we packed the car with crisps, fizzy drinks, bottles of cold water, sun visors and hats, none of which we actually remembered to bring into the ground. We didn't forget the banners, though. Those came in handy.

Face-off I relished
I was quite excited about watching Umar Akmal against the Australian pace attack. He hammered Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait for a bit, and though Tait eventually got him, the damage had been done.

Another one I was pretty keen on was Mike Hussey against Saeed Ajmal (we all remember what happened the last time they met!). It turned out to be a bit anti-climactic; Hussey wasn't nearly as destructive today.

Wow moment
Hussey's dismissal was greeted with a unanimous cheer/sigh of relief from a Pakistani crowd, who felt safe in the thought that the chances of another Hussey-esque rescue were gone.

Player watch
Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Ajmal and Abdul Razzaq all fielded near our stand. The highlight, however, was Shahid Afridi. The roar from the crowd was immense, and Afridi turned to acknowledge the cheers and premature standing ovation. When Ajmal got David Warner the very next ball, the Eric Hollies Stand went ballistic.

Shot of the day
All three of Umar Akmal's sixes - a couple landing in the stands. In fact, his entire innings was a treat to watch.

Crowd meter
The stands were more or less packed, and for a ground half under construction, the noise level was greater than those of full-capacity crowds at much larger stadiums. The vuvuzela craze from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa seems to have caught on, and the noise was bordering on deafening. There was also half a Mexican wave going around the stands through most of the second innings.

Fancy-dress index
One in every two people (myself included) was wearing a Pakistan t-shirt of some kind or the other. Slightly more out-of-the-ordinary sights included: a man dressed in a white top hat and coat covered with tiny Pakistan flags, complete with sparkly green wig and painted face; a stuffed monkey wearing a Pakistan shirt being thrown into the air in the adjacent stand; and someone who looked like a cross between a ninja turtle and a leprechaun.

As with most matches involving Pakistan, most of the entertainment was provided by the crowd. There was "Down Under" every time an Australian came out to bat and "Dil Dil Pakistan" for the other team, as well as some "Boom Boom Pow" for one particular player (no prizes for guessing who).

Banner of the day
"Do us a favour, Afridi: DON'T use Ajmal for the last over." And the usual 500 "Boom Boom Afridi" banners.

The match itself was pretty engaging till Australia lost their ninth wicket. It could have been much closer had Johnson managed to fire. The atmosphere was akin to that of a stadium in Pakistan - you would never guess the match was being played at a neutral venue if the crowds were anything to go by. It didn't have the charm and sophistication of Lord's or the thrill and madness of the National Stadium in Karachi, but I rank this day at Edgbaston as one of my best experiences in a cricket stadium.

Marks out of 10
9. It could have been 10, except the honking and screeching became too much to bear at times. I also regret leaving the stand during the innings break to get an ice-cream, which meant I ended up missing the minute or so Shane Watson batted. Pakistan finally beat Australia, though, so I was certainly not complaining.

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Maha Hussain is an 18-year old girl born in New Jersey, USA, currently living in England after having spent most of her childhood in Karachi. Having followed cricket since the age of four, she is overwhelmingly passionate about it. Over the years, there have been tears, angry outbursts and officially unofficial self-declared days of mourning or celebration as a result of her love for cricket and a Pakistan team more unpredictable than England's weather.

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Comments: 24 
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Posted by Amjad on (July 7, 2010, 20:43 GMT)

Thanks so much Maha for a fantastic article, unbelievable for a young writer, keep up the good work and i hope to read more of your reports this summer. Also thanks for mentioning me in the top hat and sherwani with the tiny flags.You,ll see me at a few more matches soon,inshallah.

Posted by Nishant on (July 7, 2010, 14:38 GMT)

haha for the sub-continent teams there is no dirth of places where we can hold tournaments and get support ..

Posted by shoaib on (July 7, 2010, 8:01 GMT)

Maha sorry i forgot to mention, that a well written article by you indeed, considering your age.

Posted by A on (July 6, 2010, 15:12 GMT)

PAKISTAN BEWARE!!! Cricket Australia is desperately trying to play John Howard for the next game.

Posted by Zeeshan on (July 6, 2010, 14:41 GMT)

Nice article, it felt like I was in the stadium watching match... keep it up!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 6, 2010, 14:15 GMT)

Pak Team Can Change Situationz ...It was There Badluck Lossing Dat match,,

Posted by Jawwad on (July 6, 2010, 14:01 GMT)

Thanks Maha !! We all appreciate the article very much. !!

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 6, 2010, 13:53 GMT)

Talk about good forty overs. The last time I saw us beat Australia was pretty much when I was jawan and they were building pyramids and all that. Go green.

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 6, 2010, 13:03 GMT)

GOING, GOING, GONE GREEN..... what a nice way to start the article. the article seems to be well crafted by looking at the age of writer herself. all i can say her is KEEP UP THE GREEN SPIRIT. our nation needs the optimistics, to grow their talent,you might have to suffer too much but do not deviate from your path, and utilize the full skills which Allah has given u

Posted by Dummy4 on (July 6, 2010, 13:00 GMT)

I`m loving the sight of so many Pakistan fans ( many call themselves - The Green Fans now ) excited over a cracking win over Australians . Well deserved Win. Watching Mr.Green Lip Akmal fly a few into the stands was a treat to watch.

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