First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
A no-brainer, really. Imagine the bragging rights associated with that one moment, when Sachin Tendulkar raised the bat for the 100th time in international matches. Trust me, my descendants down to the seventh generation would proudly have proclaimed how their ancestor witnessed a miracle. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. Before the neighbourhood comes down on me for this individual-milestone worship, I will say that I am a cricket fan first, but you go to live matches for such "I was there" moments, and few rank above the imminent ton of tons.
In all the huge hype which surrounded the century that never came, VVS Laxman's fifty almost went unnoticed. For me, he was the key performer of the day. He played fluently and put up another solid performance in the fourth innings. If Virender Sehwag was responsible for setting up the victory, and Sachin for doing the hard work, Laxman was the man who took care of the finishing touches. Considering the inconsistent Indian lower order, his calm innings was all the more crucial.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
It has to be that ball, which shocked and silenced the few thousand who had gathered, hoping they would witness a new chapter in cricket history. The ball that disappointed the millions of viewers tuned in on TV. I wish the ball that dismissed Sachin Tendulkar before he could reach that magical milestone had never been bowled.
Filling the gaps
The majority of my time during the lunch break was spent waiting in a queue for food. The few remaining minutes were spent listening to an animated discussion between a few fans who were angry at the ridiculous ticketing arrangements that had made it very difficult for people to get in: no day passes, no counters at the stadium, poorly publicised online ticketing, and availability issues at Bank of Maharashtra branches being a few of them.
The top moment of the brief day was a mixture of the funny and the anti-climactic. The entire stadium rose up with India needing just one run to win and Yuvraj on strike, chanting "Yuvi, Yuvi". Darren Sammy came in to bowl. The next moment, Yuvraj's stumps were shattered, and the crowd expressed disbelief in unison, with an elongated "Ooooh" that went across the stadium.
Shot of the day
I am a huge Laxman fan, and his first scoring shot off Fidel Edwards on the leg side had that special Laxman touch, which makes him such a joy to watch. He did not hit too many boundaries in his innings, but the three he did hit were trademark Laxman.
Considering everyone knew the match would not have lasted long beyond lunch, a lot of the people gathered in the stadium were there just to be a part of the historical moment. The ground was buzzing with chants of Sachin's name all through the little master's stay at the crease. Understandably they went into shock when Devendra Bishoo trapped him leg before, but recovered quickly to give Tendulkar a rousing ovation for his 76.
Tests v limited-overs
Watching a Test is a laidback experience, where you go with a book to read and even steal a nap or two when the going gets too slow. ODIs and Twenty20s are full of energy, with enthusiastic crowds packed in, painted faces, costumes, mad cheering and faster action on the field. I prefer Test matches, though, as they are the real measure of a player's grit and his class. Also because, as a spectator, it is a much more relaxing experience compared to the other forms of the game.
These days radios in cellphones have made the rather romantic transistor radio redundant as a faithful companion at the stadium. I made sure to take along my earphones to get live commentary to go with the action on field. It really adds to the experience.
It was immensely satisfying to see India win after the hiccup in the first innings and the disaster on the previous tour. A weak West Indian side, I agree, but India need all the confidence ahead of the tough tour down under.
We got to watch only one session of play and a bit, but it was good to see first Sachin and then Laxman get their half centuries. A Sachin hundred would have been unforgettable, but I will take what I got.
Marks on 10
Seeing my heroes perform, and my team successfully chase the second-highest total to win in India makes it an easy 8 out of 10 for me. Points deducted only because I got to watch just one session.
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