Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Nagpur

Battle royale

Sehwag v Steyn, Zaheer v Smith, Bollywood beauties, and mum's cooking - what more could a guy ask for?

Nikhil Chouguley

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A
Dale Steyn is pumped after dismissing Yusuf Pathan for a duck, India v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Nagpur, March 12, 2011
The name's Steyn, Supersonic Steyn © AFP
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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.

Team supported
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.

Key performer
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.

Accessories
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.

Wow moment
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.

Close encounter
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.

Crowd meter
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.

Entertainment
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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As suggested by his air-miles balance and gold membership status, Nikhil is a wannabe high-flyer caught in the rat-race. With the persona of a philosophical drifter, he is currently dabbling in "fishing, skiing and salsa", however Indian cricket, is really where his heart lies. A fast bowling allrounder who likes to york and thump, winning the oldest Twenty20 cricket competition in the world (1891) has been his proudest cricketing moment. Now he's on the lookout for an IPL contract to bring non-cricketing skills to an after-party.

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Comments: 24 
Posted by SureshCGM on (March 16, 2011, 10:34 GMT)

What happened to INDIAN team? Indian team players are liking Sachin, ain't they? Most of them told to press before WC, they will win CUP for sachin. Their batting performance was not keep this word. Are they interested alone to allow Sachin as opener in WC? , otherwise are they want to play with him in WC? GET UP INDIA.

Posted by wakkytaz on (March 15, 2011, 11:36 GMT)

WELL done SA.. terrific come back.. and india myt have a chance since they are playing at home. if it was somewhere else around the world india's chances would be below 0%. I think SA deserves to win the world cup this year cause they have already proven themselves. INDIA ofcourse big headed hypocrites excepts tendulkar, dhoni and zahir. :)

Posted by   on (March 15, 2011, 11:24 GMT)

Guys,

I find your comments really encouraging and hope to explore sports journalism as a career option.

And it sure beats analysing balance sheets for a living :)

@Nightray

- I also have the DJ's playlist.

Subject: Songs played at the world cup match in Nagpur 2011

Chale Chalo - Lagaan Dil Lutiya - Jazzy B Chatt pey Morni - Dj Megha tip tip barsa pani - Dj Jabs I like it - Enrique Jai Ho - PCD n AR Rahman Jhoom Barabar Jhoom - Movie Track Khalbali hai khalbali - Rang de basanti Mauja he mauja - Jab we met Rang de basanti title track Yamla Pagla dewana title track Tinku leya - Yamla Pagla dewana Yeh desh hai veer jawano ka - Stumped Ishq - Sukhbir Chakde india title track Waka Waka - Shakira Boom Boom Boom - BEP 2012 - jay sean Like a G6 - Far east Movement Dyanamite - Taio Cruz

Jai Hind and may the force be with our team

Nikhil

Posted by RajMamah on (March 15, 2011, 6:56 GMT)

I took my bet on South Africa retaining the rugby world cup and winning the cricket worls cup in 2011 when the odds were longer. Is it the Peterson factor? LOL. there is a JP Peterson in the rugby team i hear. With KP out of the England side (he was also born in South Africa) things are lookiing up fo me taking a nice long holiday with my SA winnings!

Posted by   on (March 15, 2011, 6:15 GMT)

India to strengthen its chances of winning WC2011 must do the following:

1. Replace Ashwin with Nehra / Piyush 2. Replace Raina with YP because he too can bowl and control the innings. YP's promotion up the order proved to be ineffective so far in 3 matches. 3. If not playing Raina, do not promote YP up the order to boost the runrate. Let Kohli / Dhoni be promoted as no.4 4. Playing full 50 overs

Posted by ICC_President on (March 15, 2011, 0:04 GMT)

1) Do you believe that Sachin wasted balls as he approached his century ? Come on guys, He played with SR of 109 and made 111. India got out in 48.4 overs. All other players had more balls to play if they wanted to....

2) When you are in last overs it's good idea to have fielders at fine or long leg as chance are there that bowler will throw wide bowl.

3) Please understand dhoni's situation as well. If Dhoni would have given bowl to harbhajan in last over and if the results would be the same then he would again be criticized.

Posted by Scandonest on (March 14, 2011, 13:33 GMT)

South-Africa will win the world cup we just have better players in every division than the rest ,maybey Sri Lanka will give us a game .........

Watch this space ICC Cricket World champions -IRB Rugby world champions all done in 2011 By none other than the great Saffas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by From-Chennai on (March 14, 2011, 11:41 GMT)

England vs West Indies decides out entry in super 8. If England lose India safely in super 8. If England win and India lose to West Indies and a miracle happens Bangladesh win against South Africa then India out of World Cup 2011.

Posted by Bharat175 on (March 14, 2011, 11:10 GMT)

What a match it was. it was not Ind Vs SA it was Sachin Vs SA. What a batting from master blaster, at the age of 37 he plays this kind of innings that also against world best attack steyn and morkel, its really amazing, We are very lucky to see this kind of batting from Sachin, I think we dont need coach from outside or else we dont need at all because every batsman should go to sachin after every match and Sachin should train them that how to play proper cricketing shots.Wow I can still see that Straight drive to Morkel in front of my eyes,This man is from another planet.feeling really bad that one more time his century went in vain.I still think that YP should play only 20-20 nehra shold not selected at any game now onwards,kohli should play up the order.Also I like about SA is that despite Sachin Sehwaag blasters they never look down,they knew once they get this master rest will fall off. grt bowling by steyn hats of to him.SA is not chokers anymore,SA will hold 2011 Wc.GO SA GO

Posted by Aartam on (March 14, 2011, 8:43 GMT)

31 of (25), 34 of (50), 19 of (40), 12 of (21)..these are valuable scores Dhoni scored in the worldcup And he let Asish Nehra to face first ball of Dale styn over..Dont he dare to face Dale Styn..Please Please step down from captian n also from indian team..let Gautam lead the side..Parthiv or Uthappa can keep the wickets and score at needed times..dont come for the Helicopter shot add also..thats not a cricket stroke..

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