First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
A World Cup match featuring two of the best cricketing nations in the world was just too good an opportunity to miss. Besides Nagpur being my hometown, the chance to see some spice between Zaheer Khan and Graeme Smith, and the prospects of watching Virender Sehwag "braai" Dale Steyn or vice versa made attending this game a no-brainer.
Mum's cooking and the oranges made this 5000 miles trip from Edinburgh to Nagpur all the more worthwhile.
I like rooting for the underdog, even if it sometimes means supporting a team playing against India. However today there was no such moral dilemma, it was India all the way. During the course of the 2010 football World Cup, I developed an affinity for the South African football team, however their cricket team do not surface anywhere on my radar of compassion.
World Cup prediction
Being an eternal optimist, I am willing to forgive India's insipid performance over the last five matches. I think they are trying not to peak too early and are saving their best for the final. It's an open tournament, but I still believe India have in it in them to go all the way and lift the trophy.
For the first 40 overs Sachin Tendulkar was simply awesome; he cut, drove and pulled the game away from South Africa. However, it was his hoick against the line that started the infamous Indian implosion.
At 296 all out, Fort Nagpur had fallen, and all India were left with was a dirty moat with four ducks splattered across it. Steyn the hunter and destroyer-in-chief, being responsible for the carnage.
One thing I'd have changed
Until you arrive at the cricket stadium, you scarcely realise that India was hosting the cricket World Cup. The razzmatazz and IPL-glammed-up-image of Indian cricket is in stark contrast to the apologetic ICC World Cup poster that greets you at the airport arrivals hall.
I want India to change this and welcome the world to its party. Also, I would have liked to have seen more "Saffas" in the stadium.
A vuvuzela, bought in Johannesburg, but today turned against its parent nation, sunglasses, a camera and some ear plugs to shut out the din and gather my own thoughts, were the accessories that got me through the day.
Face-off I relished
The battle of swashbuckling Sehwag v supersonic Steyn didn't disappoint, and Zaheer's dismissal of Smith also panned out as expected.
I loved the star power and beauty of India's movie actresses, Ms Deepika Padukone and Ms Bipasha Basu to name but a few, however when the star dust settles, you realise that Bollywood has once again successfully gate-crashed cricket's party.
There was also a fly-over the VCA stadium by an IL 76 fighter plane from the Indian Air Force which drew a massive cheer from the crowd, and made me think there would be no airhostesses on that plane for the cricket ball to rise high and steal a kiss from… touché Nikhil 1 Sidhu 0.
Virat Kohli was my man for all close encounters; missed catches, missed run outs and misfields. Unfortunately he didn't miss the bowler when he was caught and bowled by Robin Peterson. The chap did redeem himself in the field when he pulled off a stunning catch to help get rid of AB de Villiers and bring India back in the match.
Shot of the day
There were two shots that stood out: the first one was of Tendulkar against Morne Morkel, which can be best described as a forehand cross-court shot hit on the up. Unlike tennis, this stroke sounded like a gunshot when it hit the bat and sped off like a tracer bullet while the man retained his elegant poise. Ah! Poetry in motion.
The second was from de Villiers reverse-sweeping Zaheer off the stumps. You have to stand, admire and applaud either the fortune or the skill of this man who plays the kind of cricket I like - fearless.
The stands were packed to capacity. The 40,000 spectators were buzzing, heaving with anticipation at the start and Sehwag didn't disappoint them. On the whole it was a very knowledgeable crowd which applauded good cricket even from the opposition.
However the crowds in Nagpur certainly need to seriously improve their chanting skills, with so many languages, songs and film dialogues to choose from, I am sure we can do better than shouting "Sachin-Sachin" even when he is not on the field.
In terms of music, "Papa Americano" was a super-catchy foot-thumping number, however, as Americans don't do cricket, this song seemed a bit out of place. Unsurprisingly the DJ decided to show off his highly evolved sense of international pop music, but in the process forgot to play some Marathi chart toppers.
The regional flavour was provided by the Indian drummers in blue clothes, and some chaps playing the Tutari, a Marathi version of the bugle which sounded the arrival of the Maratha warriors.
The DJ's use of "Waka Waka" was really well-timed when Steyn was blowing away the Indian tail with his yorkers.
Banner of the day
One girl offered to become Virat Kohli's wife through and another told her that the cricket stadium was not a matrimonial website. Another banner talked about Smith being Zaheer's bunny, and voila two overs later that prediction came true.
ODIs v Twenty20
I like ODIs as well as Twenty20s and see mutual synergies between them, rather than competition for survival of one at the cost of the other.
Marks out of 10
9. It would have been 10 had the end result gone my team's way.
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