First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
The Wankhede Stadium was hosting its first Twenty20 international which was also the first India match I was watching live at a ground.
The series was set up nicely by India's emphatic win in Pune the day before. If India were to win this match and the next two against Pakistan, they would have become the No. 1 T20 team. My prediction was an India victory since the team had been playing well in the shorter formats.
England captain Eoin Morgan has already built a reputation for himself as a dangerous player in the limited-overs formats. He plays the sort of finishing role for England that Michael Bevan used to play for Australia, and now Michael Hussey.
One thing I'd have changed
I wanted Eoin Morgan's wicket - bowled, caught, run out - off the last ball of match, rather than have to watch him hit it for a six out of the ground. I would have also liked to have seen more of Virat Kohli, given the aggressiveness in his batting and the kind of boundary shots he played. It was a delight to watch him bat in full flow. I could see the attacking intent in his batting from his stance. He certainly looked determined to turn on the heat against England but the innings was unfortunately cut short.
Face-off I relished
Since several stars were being rested, it was a chance for players like Ashok Dinda, Parwinder Awana and even Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped from the Test side, to cement their places in the side.
Apart from Morgan's last-ball six hit, Yuvraj's three wickets were impressive in the match. When the English openers got going and India couldn't break the stand, the crowd asked for Yuvraj to be given a chance. When he was finally given a bowl, he dismissed Michael Lumb off his second ball. The expectations increased when he came to bowl his second over, and once again he obliged by trapping Luke Wright plumb in front of the wicket. In his final over, he managed to get rid of the dangerous Alex Hales.
Since my seat was in the North Stand near the sight screen, there was always a fielder present near the boundary rope. We got a close look at Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Wright, Stuart Meaker, Awana, Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma. Indian fans never miss a chance to call or heckle any fielder who comes to the boundary, and it was sporting of Dernbach and Wright to acknowledge the crowd with smiles. Ashwin gave us a thumbs-up after being welcomed him with "Vanakkam!" which is "hello" in Tamil. The crowd also told Awana that they'd forgive him for dropping a catch if he took a wicket.
Shot of the day
The last-ball six hit by Morgan, which reminded me of the famous Javed Miandad hit in Sharjah in 1986, was the shot of the day. The entire stadium was standing, hoping for a win for India. My colleague was waiting to record the moment on his phone but all he captured was the six out of the park. Last-ball sixes have become a regular feature in cricket since the introduction of T20s. Who can forget Dwayne Smith hitting Ben Hilfenhaus for three sixes in the last over to seal a win for Mumbai Indians against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede earlier this year?
As the match progressed, the stadium slowly filled up. The only empty stands I saw were near the Vijay Merchant Pavilion side. There were three-to-four-year-old kids dressed in Indian jerseys with faces painted in the Indian tricolor. Their parents hoisted them up on their shoulders and made them cheer for the Indian team. The Mexican wave started early, from the second over the match, and gained momentum as the Indian innings progressed, particularly when Dhoni and Raina were batting in full flow.
There were the usual colourful Lasith Malinga wigs around, but the best one was from a spectator on the second level of the North Stand who wore the mask of a grumpy old man but was dancing and rejoicing when India were batting. He was cheered by the crowd in his stand and also caught the attention of those in other stands.
Surprisingly there was no music or mid-innings entertainment, nor were there any cheerleaders, who could have boosted the spirits of the Indian bowlers. We got to see Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Navjot Sidhu, and Sourav Ganguly when they were walking back to their commentary box positions. They got cheers and duly acknowledged them.
ODIs or Twenty20s
I prefer T20s because the fast-paced action and thrilling moments are packed into three hours like a Hollywood movie. There are enough ups and downs during the three hours to make the experience enjoyable, and like a movie, the match is conveniently played in the evenings.
Banner of the day
"Unleash the Helicopter Shot", "If Dhoni plays well, India sleeps well" and "England, here's the way to the Airport".
Practice makes you perfect
I reached the stadium almost an hour and a half early, and saw England practising on the field. India came out after some time. I wish they had come out to practise earlier or at the same time as England. I saw a few Indian bowlers practise hitting one stump and wondered whether they could have hit that stump had Alastair Cook been standing in front of it with a bat.
Marks out of ten
10 for the close finish. The better team won.
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