Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

India v West Indies, first Test, Delhi

What, no hundredth?

An India fan turns up at the Kotla for the mother of all landmarks but has to be content with a home win instead

Nikhil Jha

Comments: 5 | Text size: A | A
Darren Sammy celebrates Sachin Tendulkar's wicket, India v West Indies, 1st Test, New Delhi, 4th day, November 9, 2011
No cigar: Tendulkar fell on 76 © AFP
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Players/Officials: VVS Laxman | Sachin Tendulkar
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of India
Teams: India | West Indies

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.

Team supported
India!

Key performer
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.

Anyone listening?

Wow moment
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.

Crowd meter
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.

Enhanced viewing
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.

Overall
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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Nikhil Jha is a 27-year-old sports fanatic, whose contributions to the world of sports were cut short by typical middle-class ambitions that saw him negotiate four years at IIT Bombay, and two unsure professional experiences. He has now decided to chase his calling with a couple of sports ventures - SportsWave, to enable people rediscover the joy of playing sports, and Big Show, a sports portal he hopes will become the second most adored after ESPNCricinfo.

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Comments: 5 
Posted by halberdierv2 on (November 12, 2011, 13:08 GMT)

honestly, could we get a fan perspective from both sides of the fence?

Posted by   on (November 11, 2011, 5:10 GMT)

@krnataraj - very sour comment. Tendulkar just crossed 15,000 runs - he didn't score all of them against Bangladesh, you know! If you look back over the past few years, each of the top six has had lean series from time to time, doesn't mean you should bash SRT or Sehwag. Dravid rightfully got a lot of adulation after the England series, and VVS has a huge media fan following too, so your point doesn't even hold up.

Posted by Naresh28 on (November 10, 2011, 16:36 GMT)

English fans you blasted us after our one off series loss. Their were comments that India could be thrashed by Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. After England we are back to winning ways. Some also said that we would be thrashed in our backyard. WHen England was losing the recent ODI series we heard comments of "Yes India is difficult to beat in India" Believe me we do have loads of talent, our major problem has been in the Fast bowling department. Otherwise the team put out will always give it its best shot - Young or old lot. Due respect should be given to the likes of Sachin with age consideration.

Posted by Naresh28 on (November 10, 2011, 9:18 GMT)

Choice of bowlers needs to handled carefully when playing on subcontinent pitches and pitches abroad. On Indian pitches the faster spinner(ASHWIN) can do well. Put him on overseas pitches and he will not be the same.Choose a slower spinner like Murali Karthik and Jadeja.Ohja brings the accurate spinner line - wicket to wicket. He could be a plus in ODI's and T20.Most of his wickets in this last test were due to LBW's

Posted by krnataraj on (November 10, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

saddest part of indian cricket is that media hype as always kept the real heroes like vvs, dravid etc out of picture and instead concentrate on the likes of tendulkar, sehwag for reasons best known to them.

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