Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

India v England, Group B, World Cup 2011, Bangalore

Now that's what I call an ODI

An English fan, sitting in the "Calcutta Stand" in Bangalore, watches the World Cup's most thrilling game so far

Richard Kemp

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A
Ajmal Shahzad hits a first ball six as the game turns again, India v England, World Cup, Group B, Bangalore, February 27, 2011
Ajmal Shehzad delivered the "wow moment" of the day © AFP
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Players/Officials: Andrew Strauss | Sachin Tendulkar
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: England | India

Choice of game
I'm following England throughout the group games in India, so attending the game against the main host nation was a must - this despite the hassle and cost of changing flights and accommodation after the switch from Kolkata to Bangalore. After England's poor start against the Dutch in Nagpur, I couldn't see any other result than an Indian win. More so once India racked up 338!

Team supported
Naturally the England boys.

World Cup prediction
On paper India are the strongest outfit. If they handle the growing pressure as the tournament progresses then they will be tough to beat on home soil. Sri Lanka will be there or thereabouts but may just lack that "x-factor" with the bat to challenge during the latter stages. Pakistan have started well but over the seven weeks are bound to have some form of chaos surround their squad, which could affect their chances of going all the way. My outside bet would be on Australia, who have a dangerous pace attack that could unsettle any batting line-up. Their test will be if they play one of the big boys on a slow, low turner, neutralising the danger of Lee, Tait and Super Mitch. If they can show they can adapt then they have a shout. Despite the tie against the Indians, I think this tournament will be one step too far for our Ashes and Twenty20 winning heroes. We just look like we are lacking a bit of energy in the field, no doubt brought on by the long winter away. Whether tonight's run-chase will boost the side at all remains to be seen.

Accessories
Naturally a wallet full of Indian rupees to ensure I got my daily dose of samosas, plus a digital camera which was smuggled in between my legs, defying ridiculous rules banning any photography equipment.

Key performer
Andrew Strauss. No doubt Sachin Tendulkar will take all the plaudits in the Indian newspapers, but it was Strauss who played the more telling knock. Many questioned his ability to bat at the top of the order on the subcontinent, taking advantage of the fielding restrictions before milking the bowling in the middle periods. This innings of 158, delivered on the biggest possible stage, should silence any remaining doubters. His fourth hundred for England in India and arguably his most memorable. Tim Bresnan and Zaheer Khan both bowled crucial spells at the death, but it was Strauss's that was the standout display in a thrilling tie.

One thing I'd have changed
From a purely selfish point of view it would have been great to see England eke out that extra single off the last ball. Upon reflection a tie was probably a fair result. Both sides batted superbly for the majority of the game before the bowlers hit back in the last 10 overs.

Face-off I relished
Any game against India that involves Yuvraj Singh is always worth watching. The England boys believe they can get into Yuvraj with the odd word. Judging by his continuing excellent form against England, I'm not sure that is the best tactic!

Wow moment
Ajmal Shehzad struck the first ball he faced for a maximum over long-on. Sheer drama after over seven hours of brilliant ODI cricket. The England fans congregated in the imaginatively titled "Calcutta Stand" knew we wouldn't lose after this incredible moment.

Shot of the day
Wow, how do you choose that after 676 runs? From a purely cricketing point of view I'd say Tendulkar's second six in two balls against Graeme Swann. Anyone can hit one six, but to do it twice in a row against one of the world's best bowlers in the middle period of a ODI oozes class. A proper shot too, hit straight down the ground.

Crowd meter
The noise towards the end of the game, when India started chipping away at wickets was as loud as anything I have heard in a cricket ground anywhere in the world. It would have been even louder were it not for the several thousand who left early during the Strauss-Bell partnership.

Fancy-dress index
As ever, my good friend Dave was kitted out in his full Union Jack attire. Apart from the odd silly wig, the crowd was in the main shy of the usual fancy-dress suspects.

Entertainment
As it should be, the cricket was the main entertainment. Forget your IPL cheerleaders (this isn't baseball) plus your music in between deliveries. Just let the cricketers do their stuff.

Banner of the day
"Thank you Calcutta". At least the people of Bangalore gained from the late rearrangement to the fixture.

ODIs v Twenty20
I'm not a huge fan of what Twenty20 has become. It was originally launched domestically as a tool for getting people back into cricket. Sadly the greed of the cricket boards is slowly killing the golden goose. For me Twenty20 should never have been taken into the international arena in the first place - we have enough Test and ODI cricket as it is. If I had to choose, I would say ODIs. A good ODI is more memorable than a good Twenty20. If ever there was an example of that, it was this incredible game.

Marks out of 10
10. Superb entertainment from the first ball to the last.

Overall
A brilliant day's cricket that sets the benchmark for the rest of the tournament. I've already been fortunate to witness both Tendulkar and Strauss score Test hundreds in India. Now I can add ODI tons for good measure. Some fine death bowling followed by some late-order hitting completed the near-perfect day.

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Richard Kemp is on his eighth cricket tour following the England team abroad during the World Cup. This is part of a six-month sabbatical from his job as a customer service representative for a test laboratory in Hereford, England. He is a keen travel and cricket writer and can be found at blogging here

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Comments: 16 
Posted by   on (March 1, 2011, 10:40 GMT)

IF SOME IS SEEING MY POST HERE ...I JUST WANT TO SEND THIS MESSAGE TO INDIAN TEAM.....

" bring in the field and just don't give away singles in the mid overs...."

" if ur opponent has to score above 6.5 runs per over bowling 3 good overs can create pressure in your opponent team..."

"fight till the last ball - the only good thing that can be taken from mighty australian's studied from a world up or any game "

" to the persons who organizers give our team a pumping music during the break ...can b official song of 1996 wrld cup or chak de ...song " so our guys get pumped up..........

"""" go guys go .....it is d luckiest chance u will get ...with ur hme team on side"""""" also give ashwin a chance to prove........................

thank u some will note this and send tis msg to indian team ........good luck...

Posted by indianzen on (March 1, 2011, 5:26 GMT)

mark my words... This may be a tie but no team can win an ODI against INDIA in INDIA in WORLD CUP... We own the cup...

Posted by indianzen on (March 1, 2011, 5:24 GMT)

I could hear sunil Gavaskar's words "They should have taken Sreesanth, He can get us more luck... ", Why was not Broad pulled into the game? becoz Mr Yuvraj singh can hit a six without a bat in his hand...

Posted by   on (March 1, 2011, 1:50 GMT)

Well written & perfectly summarised. this was one of those high entertainment matches that shud possibly put life back into d ODI's. @Nitin Sawhney: i saw the match. India were a bit sloppy on d field sumtimes but not as bad as Bal makes it out to be. there were sum fielding lapses on both sides but given the pressure of the game it's understandable. But there's scope for improvement in both bowling & fielding departments.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2011, 23:29 GMT)

Sachin prof again no one beat the record we hope india playing Good-now

Posted by sehwagian on (February 28, 2011, 20:32 GMT)

what a game of cricket ... being an ardent indian fan i really really apreciate eng for putting up such a fight ... this is def one of the best matches ever played between two top teams its right there with aus vs saf semifinal match in 99wc. I was exhausted after the match as if i have bowled the last over... LOL .... kudos to every one who took part in the game ... especially sachin and strauss... I cant control my laughter when few eng fans are expecting their team in final ... you gota be kidding ... the final wil be between india and pakistan ...

Posted by Sreerang on (February 28, 2011, 17:20 GMT)

Well written. Sachin did play a good innings, but Strauss played one of the best innings in ODIs. Not once did he look uncomfortable, was always up with run-rate & this with proper cricketing shots And if Indian papers are full of Sachin, that's because he sells. Pure commerce. And to me the shot of the day was Ajmal's six. No slog, that. Neat shot with minimal fuss. And least expected.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2011, 14:14 GMT)

India need one more all rounder like Irfan Pathan who can swing balls and hit sixes.

Posted by Farce-Follower on (February 28, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

Nicely written...yes, Strauss's was indeed a super performance and a deserving MoM. I think India was let down by some very poor captaincy.

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (February 28, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

Richard, great report. I think being at the stadium for such a game is a huge privilege.

Nitin, from what I saw on TV, on a scale of 1 to 10: Indian bowling - 1 and Zaheer scored 8 of those. Indian fielding - 5. Yes because only one catch was dropped and no runouts were missed. Finally those are what win you matches. Dhoni's captaincy - 1 and forced extra fieldsmen in the circle in the batting Powerplay scored 10 of those.

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