First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
Though I live in Birmingham, I was unable to go to Monday's match, and as Pakistan won it, I was itching not to miss this one. Both sides have class players and I'd heard about the atmosphere the previous day, so I wanted to experience it for myself. My prediction was a close win for Pakistan as I believed they were more experienced in this format, although the Aussie side was full of match-winners and superstars.
I was supporting Pakistan, along with most of the Edgbaston crowd, and I desperately wanted some proper success for the team after all the controversy and dismal performances of the last few months.
There wasn't any one standout player for Pakistan; most of the runs were made by the team, and the wickets were shared around, which is a sign of a strong team. If I had to pick someone, it would be Mohammad Aamer for his late cameo hitting and three crucial breakthroughs in the Australian innings. This got Pakistan to a total they could defend easily after a mini collapse, and his bowling quashed any hopes of the Australians getting away in the early overs.
One thing I'd have changed
I would definitely have changed the number of horns and vuvuzelas inside the ground. The noise was so loud you could barely hear yourself think, and after three hours of it I was a bit tired, although the atmosphere they created was unlike any I had ever experienced before.
Face-off I relished
I was really excited about the contest between Shoaib Akhtar and the Australian top order, especially David Warner, who had completely taken Shoaib apart in the first match, so I was quite disappointed that Warner only faced one ball from the Rawalpindi Express before being out lbw to Aamer. Akhtar's bowling was much better than in the first match and he was quite comfortably the quickest bowler of the match, with several fizzers going past the noses of the Aussie batsmen.
There were lots of fantastic moments, but the one I loved the most was when Mike Hussey got out to Umar Gul. He was looking increasingly dangerous as he had hit two fours off Gul, arguably Pakistan's best death bowler, and it had gone down from 35 runs needed off 18 balls to 27 runs needed off 15 - very manageable, given what Hussey had done to Pakistan in the World Twenty20 semi-final. The umpire's finger going up to the lbw appeal was a welcome sight for me, and it was cheered heavily by the crowd.
There were lots of players who fielded near my stand, which was right in front of the player's shelters, and most of them were bowlers - among them Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson, who was heckled for conceding 14 runs off the first over. Of the Pakistanis, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Akmal and Saeed Ajmal all fielded there, with Ajmal - who's not the best fielder in the Pakistan team - receiving loud cheers for his dive to cut off a four near the end of the innings.
Shot of the day
This one has to go to Shahid Afridi's huge six off Shaun Tait's 90mph bowling. It was amazing to see someone just stand and smack a ball travelling at such a speed over the construction site. A replacement ball needed to be taken.
The crowd were totally and utterly rooting for Pakistan, with the exception of a few Aussie supporters who had had the courage to turn up for the match. They were duly harassed and heckled relentlessly by the extortionate number of Pakistani fans, but fortunately they all took it good spirit. The atmosphere inside and outside the ground was electric, with the air horns and vuvuzelas being heard before the stadium was even in sight. The stands were a sea of green and although the match was not sold out, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was. Wonder what the atmosphere and noise would have been like if the whole ground had been open to spectators.
There were many painted faces and green wigs. I got a bit of a shock when I saw a person covered with green paint - not just his face but every exposed body part; he looked more a ghost than a Pakistan fan!
There was lots of music but it would be helpful if it could be heard over the noise of the air horns and crowd. The Pakistani band the Raga Boyz, who had been brought in specially for this match, played live twice. When Pakistan were in action, "Dil Dil Pakistan" was played and for Australia "Down Under" was just about discernible over the noise.
As I lived pretty close and the match was a Twenty20, I didn't bring much, but my Pakistan shirt was a must as was some food and drink. I also brought an air horn with me but regretted it as it fell apart after the first innings, and after having to hear so much of it for so long all around me, I no longer had much interest in it.
Banner of the day
There was one which said "Demolition in Progress", which I thought was appropriate for the ground, and "I want to be like Gerrard and Rooney", with the names crossed out and replaced with "Gul" and "Afridi".
It was a wonderful game of cricket with many high-quality passages of play. The atmosphere was great and with so many Pakistani fans in the ground, you couldn't tell if you were in Pakistan or England, although the light rain at the start and the cold breeze later gave you a bit of a clue. I was happy I had the opportunity to see two talented sides compete with such a high standard of performance.
Marks out of 10
8. The mark is lowered mainly because of the din from the air horns and vuvuzelas, although they did add a bit of an edge to the atmosphere. The cricket was of an extremely good standard, with only a few mistakes costing either side. I left feeling I had got my money's worth, and I hope Pakistan carry this form into the two Test matches against Australia, which will be the real test.
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Osama Hamid is a 15-year-old student who loves cricket and plays passionately for his school team as a left-arm fast bowler. He tries to watch all Pakistan matches, although with exams looming, this might be a difficult prospect in the future.
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