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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
The last 18 months have been agonising for the Indian cricket supporter, so the prospect of watching India play at a time when they were beginning to win games comprehensively wasn't one I was going to let go. And the fact that it was India's first match after reaching No. 1 in the ODI rankings and that they could possibly seal the series in Mohali, made me even more keen.
Although I was expecting India to win, I knew the pace and bounce of the Mohali pitch would suit England's style of play. I hoped the visitors would put up a strong display.
Rohit Sharma laid the foundation of India's win, but it was Suresh Raina's fluent innings of 89 that stood out. Raina came in to bat when India were in a spot of bother at 90 for 3, having just lost the wicket of Yuvraj Singh. He held fort from one end and built match-winning partnerships with Rohit and MS Dhoni.
An honourable mention must go to Ishant Sharma, who bowled impeccable lines during his first spell in which he gave away just ten runs of five overs, and regularly troubled Kevin Pietersen.
One thing I'd have changed
Though smoking is prohibited inside cricket stadiums in India, there were many people openly smoking inside, putting all those who had come with families in an uncomfortable position.
The food inside the stadium was also really expensive, sold at three times what it should have cost. I wish the authorities look into these matters and take corrective measures.
As far is the game is concerned, the 30,000-odd Mohali crowd was desperately hoping for local lad Yuvraj to come good in his first game at home since his return to international cricket after treatment for cancer. He received a huge ovation when he walked in to bat, and there was pin-drop silence the moment he got out. If I could change anything, I would have made Yuvraj bat a lot longer so that the fans stayed happy.
Face-off I relished
During the 12th over of England's innings, Ishant first hit KP on the thigh and two balls later had a close leg-before shout turned down against him. At the end of the over, Ishant was seen exchanging some words with KP, probably giving him some batting tips. In the 46th over, Pietersen hit Ishant for a four and a six before getting castled by a yorker off the next delivery.
The proverb "Try, try, till you succeed" surely applied to the Mohali crowd today. After numerous attempts to get the Mexican wave going failed, the crowd finally managed to sync, and the fervour must have egged on Rohit and Raina to play the kind of innings they eventually played.
Joe Root played a scoop over the short fine leg fielder for a boundary, and an over later, turned around and played a reverse-scoop for another four.
I made my way inside the stadium almost an hour before the start of the game and saw Indian cricketers warming up just metres away from where my stand was. Virat Kohli was hitting a few balls near our stand. He mistimed one in the air and the ball hit a girl on the forehead, just two rows in front of where I was seated. Considering the cold weather, she seemed to be in a lot of pain and had to be comforted by her family members. Virat wasn't too far away and must have noticed the girl being hit, but he carried on with his practice. If he had noticed, then a small gesture of apology towards the girl would have been nice.
Shot of the day
The shots of day were two glorious square cuts by Alastair Cook off R Ashwin in the 26th over. He first cut Ashwin in front of square, and two balls later, behind square.
The crowd filled up as the game progressed. The queues for the student blocks were long outside the stadium, and those stands filled to capacity very quickly. The VIP and terrace stands were around 80% full throughout the game and made enough noise to keep the atmosphere electric. The Mohali crowd has always been known to be vibrant and colourful, and they certainly did not disappoint.
One man was dressed like a Hindu mythological character, another stayed shirtless in the Mohali chill to flaunt the tri-colour painted on his face and torso. There were quite a few kids wearing the colourful Malinga wigs.
Banner of the day
There was a huge banner inside the stadium which read, "We miss you, Master Blaster", which received a huge cheer every time it was shown on the big screen. Another notable banner was,"To call Yuvi, dial 666666".
Although I'd have loved a thriller in which both teams scored over 300 runs, this was a good game that had some fine individual batting displays from both sides and where the better team won in the end. The only thing that bothered everyone was the weather. It had become extremely cold in the evening and the chilly winds were making people shiver.
Marks out of 10
9. One mark deducted for the match not having a close finish.
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