First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
I am not too fussy about the format of the game as long as there is good contest. Though the New Zealand team suffered a heavy defeat in the first Test, they are known fighters and I was expecting a better contest in this game. Also, this probably was the last time Sachin Tendulkar would play a Test in Bangalore. So, I decided that this was something I cannot miss.
Key performer - Tim Southee
If this Test match is still in a balance, it is due to Southee. When New Zealand took the second new ball, India had two well-settled batsmen in Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni and they were threatening to build a lead. He used the new ball well to get rid of both of them and two others to end up with seven for the innings.
One thing I'd have changed about the day
There was a felicitation for VVS Laxman and Sunil Joshi by the KSCA during the tea interval. The event took place on the ground near the dressing room. Fans like me at the far end could not make out anything. The KSCA could have made arrangements to show the event on the big screen. Also, they can improve the PA system by installing speakers in all the stands.
The interplay I enjoyed - Ashwin vs Flynn
R Ashwin had got Daniel Flynn three times on the sweep in this series. It seemed that Flynn was determined not to use the sweep and to play as much off the back foot as possible. He was quite successful and was able to cut Ashwin for three or four boundaries. In the end Ashwin prevailed once again as he got a top-spinner to bounce a bit more and Flynn edged to Sehwag.
Player watch - Sachin Tendulkar
Tendulkar was fielding at long-on for James Franklin (about 20 metres to my right). The fans understandably kept calling out his name. He obliged a couple of times with a hand wave. The partnership between Franklin and Kruger van Wyk grew and the crowd went a bit quiet. Sachin turned around and gestured as if to ask, "Are you guys sleeping? Make some noise." Needless to say, the stand erupted.
Shot of the day - Zaheer Khan
Zaheer is not known to hang around much. The first ball he faced, he backed away a little and smashed a full one over long-on for a beautiful six. Although there were many nice looking shots from top-order batsmen, this one is still fresh in my mind.
Ball of the day - Ashwin to Southee
It was late in the evening and the Indian spinners had the New Zealand team in all sorts of trouble. Ashwin flighted one just outside the Southee's off stump. Southee went for a booming drive and to Ashwin and my delight the ball turned, went through the gate and hit leg and middle.
There was a very good turnout for the day, but the ground was by no means full. As expected, Kohli's century, Dhoni's fifty and New Zealand wickets were received with thunderous roars. Also, there was scattered applause for some of the shots played by the New Zealand batsmen, a welcome relief from the recent trend of partisan crowds in Indian grounds.
Tests v limited-overs
There are several periods of play during Tests, where things move a bit slowly and the players themselves relax a bit. During these times, they tend to interact a bit more with the spectators than they would do if it were a limited-overs match. As fans, this is what we crave for and so I prefer Tests.
Watching some quality bowling from right behind the sight-screen was a filling experience. The Sunday crowd made it even better. The only blemish was the food offered at lunch.
Marks out of 10
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