First-person reports from the stands
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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