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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
There is no reason not to go for an India-England Test, even more so when the match is at Wankhede, a ground where the teams have an unforgettable history. Who can forget the match back in 2006 where Shaun Udal became an unlikely hero and India folded for 100? And this match has been just as topsy-turvy as the one six years ago.
Kevin Pietersen has always been the key performer for England and this time was no different as he played one of the best innings by an Englishman on Indian soil. His fluent 186 off 233 with 20 fours and four sixes, two of which were absolute crackers, was the highlight of the day. It did not matter if you were English or Indian; all spectators alike applauded the sheer magnificence of his bat whenever he scored a boundary. His century celebrations were trademark KP and there were very few people in the stands who did not join in the cheer. Far more people stood up for Pietersen than for Alastair Cook, the other centurion.
One thing I'd have changed
I'd change eight: the seven Indian wickets that fell like dominoes and the insipid bowling earlier in the day. As an irrational, emotional India fan, it was heart-breaking to watch the team crumble like this in home conditions. As each of the seven wickets fell in just about 30 overs, the last shreds of optimism evaporated. But as an objective cricket watcher, it was exhilarating to see 15 wickets fall one after the other in one day.
Face-off I relished
Pietersen v Pragyan Ojha. KP's susceptibility to left-arm spinners has given rise to much talk but he made little of it as he hoisted Ojha for three sixes. But Ojha finally got better off him when Pietersen offered a thin edge into Dhoni's gloves to end a splendid innings. I'd say that in this interplay, both Ojha and Pietersen returned with equal honours.
The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the crowds is infectious. The insane celebrations when an English wicket fell, the rhythmic clapping when the bowlers ran in to bowl, the wild slogan-shouting when an Indian batsmen took guard, the roaring applause for singles, the standing ovation when Sachin Tendulkar entered the ground - this was the wow factor for me.
From starting the day with a solid century to ending the day on the field, shining the ball and pepping his team up, Cook could do no wrong. It was a treat to watch him bring up his second century of the series. His fielding was spirited and some sharp saves increased the intensity of the other fielders. He must have gone off the field a happy man.
Shot of the day
The Sachin Tendulkar Straight Drive. He scored only eight runs off two boundaries, but with his exquisite timing and clean hitting, his first four off Monty Panesar is my shot of the day. Pietersen and Cook scored in hordes but Tendulkar typical shot down the ground stands out above everything else.
There is no describing the Wankhede crowd in a few lines. It will take a book! The upper tier of the North and SRT stands were probably the most vibrant, with the constant cheering. Even the English supporters joined in the celebrations and overall it was a cordial atmosphere with a healthy dose of bantering between the Indians and English. One of the English supports sitting with us went on to say that it was the best place to watch cricket in India.
It was disappointing, it was heart-breaking, it was frustrating as an Indian fan, but overall it was a brilliant day of Test cricket. It started with centuries by Cook and Pietersen, it went on to become a wicket-taking competition with eight English and seven Indian batsmen getting dismissed. So we got to see the best of both batting and bowling. Mumbai has always given us some of the most interesting Test matches in the recent years.
Marks out of ten
9. The one mark lost is due to the uninspiring performance from the Indian team. Gautam Gambhir played a crucial knock on day three, but otherwise it was a disappointing outing. But full marks to the atmosphere created by the fans despite the disappointment.
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