Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

India v Australia, second Test, Bangalore, second day

All must be well with Test cricket

An Australian fan takes in the sights and sounds of Test cricket and Tendulkar in India

Sean Kelly

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A
Marcus North sinks to the ground to relish his century, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 2nd day, October 10, 2010
Marcus North: Ashes, here I come © AFP
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Choice of game
I chose this game as it pitted two fierce rivals with an unmatched recent record of high-quality and memorable cricket - a fact amply proved by the heroics in Mohali. My pre-match prediction was a high-scoring draw. This result was favoured by the pitch, the respective powerful batting line-ups and under-strength bowling attacks, and the fact that it would be enough to hand India a series win.

The day began early, around 8am, with passage through the first of many security checkpoints at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Thoroughly patted down and waved over with a metal-detecting wand, I finally emerged onto the second deck overlooking the western square boundary. At this early stage the only people on the ground were security personnel, slowly lapping the outer edge of the boundary with various bomb-detecting high-tech devices.

Team supported
I finally got to marry my patriotism with the natural desire to support the underdog. Nevertheless, I was often carried by the crowd's fervour into cheering for the locals.

Key performer
It remains to be seen whether Sachin Tendulkar can turn this match on its head, though the second day undoubtedly belonged to a patient yet powerful Marcus North. Ashes bound?

Interplay I enjoyed the most
Early in the final session, Virender Sehwag took on the daunting riposte with typical flair. After sending Mitchell Johnson and his much-spoken-of bouncer barrage to the boundary and beyond, the aggressive opener sought to treat similarly the supposedly more sedate Ben Hilfenhaus. In the tenth over of the innings, Hilfenhaus struck Sehwag on the helmet as he attempted to duck in an ungainly manner. The next ball was short and straight and Sehwag duly crashed it to Johnson at deep backward square. The chants of "Sehwag! Sehwag!" that had previously engulfed the stadium were transformed into an absolute, eerie silence as he trudged off.

Wow moment
In the 50th over of the day, Australia were 470 for 8 and eyeing 500. Hilfenhaus cut Sreesanth past point - or so he thought. The debutant, Cheteshwar Pujara, threw himself to his right, saved a certain four, picked himself up and threw down the single stump offered to him. The third umpire did not take long in adjudging Nathan Hauritz short and the stadium erupted. It was instinctive and just what Indian cricket needs. However, today it was not the wow moment.

Not for the first time did Tendulkar upstage all-comers. He became the first cricketer to surpass 14,000 Test runs. The countdown was directed by the big screen and began with 10 required. When he was within a boundary of the landmark, Tendulkar flayed the hapless Hauritz through the covers and into history. Tendulkar acknowledged the deafening applause and waited - for what seemed an eternity - for sufficient calm so he could resume his innings. Eventually the crowd subsided, but not for long, as the very next ball Tendulkar repeated the dose. The crowd was now delirious; it was not the medicine Hauritz required.

Player watch
A great bulk of the typical spectator's time is spent in eliciting an acknowledgment from a nearby fielder. Late in the day, Marcus North, perhaps on a high from his splendid innings, proved fertile ground. Not only did he wave to the thousands of faces every time he walked back to his position, he even bowled and drove imaginary balls into the adoring masses.

Shot of the day
Sehwag's ferocious upper-cut for six off Johnson, which perfectly bisected the fielders placed at deep backward point and third man. It proved a false dawn, however, as Sehwag departed shortly thereafter.

Thus the "shot of the day" ought to go to North. He must have been nervous knowing that the innings was there to be saved, not to mention his place in the Ashes line-up, as he walked out this morning. The day's first full over was delivered by the disappointing Sreesanth; first, North delightfully guided a hip-high delivery to the fine-leg boundary, then he firmly turned a ball from his pads for a brace behind square. They were not the most spectacular, brutal or delicate shots played today, but they had the biggest bearing on the match.

Debutant woes
Peter George knew it was not just a dream when he ran into bowl to Tendulkar late on the second day for he had already been rudely introduced to Test cricket by Sehwag. Replacing the expensive Johnson, George proved no economical alternative as Sehwag punished him for a brace of boundaries straight down the ground. Welcome to Test cricket, indeed!

Crowd meter
Being a Sunday with a high possibilty of India (read Tendulkar) batting, all but a few areas of the sizeable ground were packed. The only thing larger than the crowd today was its unceasing passion. The spectators were unbelievably exciting and excitable, and yet always appreciative of the tourists' efforts. Every Australian milestone was applauded warmly, as was George when he readied himself for his debut over. Indeed, when Australia registered their highest score in Bangalore - a seemingly innocuous achievement - the locals resoundingly congratulated them.

Ben Hilfenhaus is delighted to see Virender Sehwag hole out, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 2nd day, October 10, 2010
Sehwag fell into Hilfenhaus' trap © Associated Press
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Banner of the day
Unlike in Australia, the dynamic Indian cricket fan brings blank poster paper to matches so as to permit instant updates to his/her banners. One read "Dhoni, please send Tendulkar this side" (interactive idol worship), while another proved that cricket fans might also aspire to poetry: "Tendulkar Twinkles, Aussies Wrinkle".

Tests v limited-overs
Today I witnessed Australia powerfully grind out a position of strength notwithstanding the odd mini-collapse, a possibly career-defining century, two debutants mix it with the best, a typically Sehwag-esque onslaught, and a seasoned master reaffirm his dominance. All must be well with Test cricket.

Marks out of 10
9. My imagination inflated my expectations to such a degree that it would have been difficult for a day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium to match them. Nevertheless they were exceeded and more. The only letdown were the amenities. No outside food or water were permitted (for safety or business, I know not), and the invariably small plastic temporary seats provided very little comfort (though I suspect they are somewhat more accommodating then the cement slabs upon which they were placed).

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Sean Kelly is a penultimate-year law student from Australia and a lifelong cricket fan. His lonely library hours are frequently enlivened by ESPNcricinfo's live coverage of matches, for which he blames any and all of his substandard academic performances. Ever since he watched Sourav Ganguly score 140-odd at a run-a-ball against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval when he was 13 years old, he has dreamed of attending a cricket match in India.

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Comments: 20 
Posted by   on (October 14, 2010, 21:57 GMT)

A very nice and interesting description of the match. Pretty nice read about an aussie fan's experience of test cricket in India.

Posted by ijk007 on (October 11, 2010, 18:23 GMT)

@KANDYBALA: Can't stop laughing after seeing your comments :D I guess u have to swallow the word TACTICAL ERROR from your passage. You have to think lot better buddy :-)

Posted by SnowSnake on (October 11, 2010, 17:53 GMT)

@kandyBala: Your logic is hard to understand (unless you are SL fan then it is very easy to understand). India should bat and take the lead--Aus. would be more tired then. India should only declare after tea on 4th day, provided that their batting lasts that long. Declaring early would be a disaster because India would be batting last and risk losing after declaration.

Posted by sublime_sport on (October 11, 2010, 17:52 GMT)

Nice one Sean. Thanks for allowing the less fortunate India/Sachin/Australia fans like me to enjoy the game vicariously. Enjoy the rest of your stay in India.

Posted by dr.saurabhg on (October 11, 2010, 17:43 GMT)

the lack of amenities n all SECURITY REASONS put henceforth are the biggest letdown... still THREE CHEERS all the fans for keeping the atmosphere at its very eclectic best!!!!! great to read a review from a visiting fan at his pragmatic best with shades of patrioticism mixed in.... SACHIN " THE GOD " TENDULKAR makes everyone else fade into oblivion!!!!

Posted by   on (October 11, 2010, 16:24 GMT)

Brilliant review. Especially when it comes from a visitor's point of view!

Posted by InnocentGuy on (October 11, 2010, 15:53 GMT)

I am lucky to have lived in Sachin's era! The man now has 95 intn'l hundreds! 95!! Plus numerous occasions where he's got out at 99 and 98 and 97. He's a run-machine... a run-God... or just... God! <bows>

Posted by ironmonkey on (October 11, 2010, 15:19 GMT)

Nice article! I do wish the amenities in Indian cricket grounds were better. It is one of the big reasons I have stopped going to matches (the last I went to was in 2001). With all the money the BCCI is making, you'd think they could put in a little towards making the spectators happy.

Posted by SnowSnake on (October 11, 2010, 15:18 GMT)

I hope Australian cricket builds up soon. It is not fun seeing Australia weak. I think India will remain strong for years to come, and if Australia is strong then Aus-Ind. cricket would be a lot of fun to watch. I think Dravid and Hussey should go now.

Posted by KANDYBALA on (October 11, 2010, 15:07 GMT)

I feel India made a tactical error today. They should have declared even when the total was around 400, and put the OZs who were dead tired to bat and grabbed two or three wickets by close and put them on the defensive. I think the Indian bowlers are quite capable of wrapping up the OZ innings around 250 runs and giving Indians a target of around 300 to chase, a winning situation.

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