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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
When the fixtures for the series were first announced, Chennai was scheduled to host the last Test. I thought it would be wonderful to watch the climax of what surely would be a tightly fought contest. But the fixtures were reversed and Chennai got the first match, I thought getting to watch that would be better as it normally sets the tone for the series, and that it would be more interesting than a possible dead rubber.
Everyone had come to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat and they got what they wanted. It had been a while since he played a flawless innings at the international level. All that changed on Saturday. He was decisive with his footwork and started off with three boundaries off James Pattinson. Even when not hitting boundaries, Tendulkar played with assurance and freedom. He middled almost every ball he faced and looked watertight while defending.
Pattinson had had a very good series against India at home, but since then injuries had limited his international appearances. Here too, he was impressive. He was the quickest of the Aussie bowlers and was rewarded for looking to bowl at the stumps more as he got all the three Indian wickets to fall on the day. He was taken off the attack too quickly on more than one occasion. Maybe Michael Clarke wanted to preserve his strike bowler from breaking down in this scorching heat.
One thing I'd have changed
The burning heat took so much out of not only the players but also spectators like me who sat without any shade. But hoping that the Chennai sun would beat down less at this time of the year would be a waste of time. The most irritating thing for me were random ad clips shown during replays on the big screen. But maybe in these times of full-fledged commercialisation of the game, we can't expect to see full replays at grounds.
David Warner was always quick to field the ball, and on one occasion he almost got Tendulkar run out, but his throw was a bit off target. On another occasion, he flew through the air and came up with the ball in one hand to stop a single.
Shot of the day
A cover drive by Virat Kohli off Nathan Lyon was exquisite, because there wasn't a big gap between the cover and the mid-off fielders. Kohli played against the turn and managed to find that small gap. Thankfully, I got to see the full replay of the stroke, so that made it my best shot.
When I reached the stadium, there were long queues of people waiting to buy the daily tickets, so I thought it would be jam-packed inside, but there were a lot of spaces in different stands left unoccupied. That doesn't mean the crowd was not noisy. As expected, the loudest cheers were reserved for Tendulkar, be it when he fielded near the boundaries or when he came out to bat.
The interactive dashboard at the ground provided the crowd a chance to show their affection to the players with text messages. Clarke was an instant hit when he obliged to their demands by showing off his dancing skills. Could you imagine Ricky Ponting doing that? Maybe influenced by their cool captain, the other Australians also started to loosen up a bit and entertained the crowd.
It was not a high-scoring day of Test cricket. Australia started the day by batting very cautiously and lost wickets when they looked to accelerate. Only 64 runs were scored in the first session in 38 overs. The Indian batsmen played more positively, but they were also not taking the attack to the opposition, instead waiting patiently to cash in on the loose deliveries. But as long as the cricket is compelling and competitive, no one cares about the scoring rate.
Marks out of 10
8. It might have been more fun if there had been a larger crowd.
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