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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
If Laxman was like a kid who got his toy, Hyderabadi cricket lovers were like kids lost in a toy shop. So much to take home. After waiting 22 years for it to happen, there was no excuse to miss this Test.
Though I did miss the first day, thanks to the security rules that did not allow spectators to carry mobiles or handbags into the stadium. Nor had they arranged any lockers for people to put their belongings in.
India. Undoubtedly. Against any other team, I'd have supported New Zealand, especially if Nathan Astle - one of my favourite batsmen - were to feature in it. But not today.
One thing I'd have changed
I had to ditch Groucho Marx and Joseph Heller, because the security officials didn't allow anything inside, including books. I had to leave behind the music of Kishore Kumar and co too, because no electronic gadgets were permitted. Thankfully, Sehwag ensured I didn't miss them too much.
However, I missed Cricinfo and Ravi Shastri, big time! The stadium had a poor scoreboard mechanism. It was hard to find out the batsmen's score. Neither was there a PA system.
Virender Sehwag. The spectators and Viru seemed to have an interesting relationship - they demanded, he obliged and they demanded some more. They wanted him to hit every ball to boundary and he tried to do nothing but that.
Only from the colours he wears can one identify the format he's playing.
Shot of the day
Sehwag's straight six. I had wanted an upper-cut six so that it would land in our stand but this shot was no less of a treat.
Wow moment of the day
Sehwag's dismissal for 96. After a moment of shock, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. A few deliveries later, Gambhir was out. Two quick wickets. Two well-set openers gone. But no one gave a damn because they were too busy holding their breath, waiting for the first glimpse of God.
From the moment he was seen through the glass panes of the dressing room till he reached the middle of the ground, people roared, cheered, clapped and went crazy. Put simply, Sachin Tendulkar brings out the kid in each one of us.
The Hyderabadis were vociferous, with high energy levels even after sitting under a very harsh sun. When Chris Martin came to field at long-on after his over, the crowd applauded him for his performance in the last match. Kids begged, demanded and yelled to get an autograph from him. But he remained unmoved, giving the crowd a reason to tease him.
From Sehwag, the crowd wanted only sixes and fours. One guy had this offer: "Khel le Viru., Irani chai milega" (Play for well Viru, we'll get you Irani tea - a Hyderabad special)
When Sachin came to crease, they got greedy as hell: "Aaram se khelnaa Sachin, jee bhar ke khelnaa!" (Play in a relaxed manner, Sachin, play to your heart's content).
Surprisingly, the crowd mobbed the dressing room, chanting "We want Sachin, We want Sachin!" despite the police shooing them away. M Vijay was generous enough to come into stands to sign many autographs.
At the end of the tea break, Simon Taufel got requests from the crowd not to give Sehwag out. He walked on to the field, smiling cutely.
An unparalleled experience. A priceless experience. I just hope that there's a Laxman or a Viru or a Zaheer in the making, among the kids who were lucky enough to watch their heroes.
Marks out of 10
9. Sehwag's batting and the few moments when Sachin walked out to bat made up for the facilities that were so poor that there wasn't even drinking water to be had. But when you've had the chance to see God, nothing else bothers.
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Purnima Tammireddy is a software engineer in Hyderabad, an off-campus MS student of BITS Pilani and a co-admin of a book website, pustakam.net but she prefers to be identified as a cricket maniac. She has never played the game but hasn't missed a chance to watch, discuss or read anything related to it. Cricket's been her love for almost two decades now and the affair is still going strong.
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