First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
The last time a Test match was played in Chennai, I was writing my 12th grade half-yearly exam. Now there was another Test in the city, after I had finished my four-year engineering degree. How on earth could I miss it after the drama last time around? The rivalry between India and Australia drags you in more than their rankings.
I took my seat hoping for an enthralling day with the match still in the balance, but also hoping India would have a slighter edge. I watched in disbelief as the Aussies fell like a pack of dominos. I applauded each tumbling wicket, but I also wished for a big partnership to balance the Test for the sake of a thrilling climax.
R Ashwin was terrific with the ball, but still bowled some rare loose balls.
One thing I'd have changed
An Australian fightback would have spiced up the Test. Ed Cowan, David Warner and Michael Clarke could have taken a leaf out of Moises Henriques' book of converting starts into resistant batting.
Interplay you enjoyed
There were a few jaw-dropping moments, but they came only in short bursts. MS Dhoni's aggressive mood lifted a dodgy Monday morning. The Warner-Clarke counterattack was enthralling, but sadly lasted only 35-40 minutes. But the long wait for the best moment was worth every rupee. Ishant Sharma was welcomed with huge applause when he came on to bowl after 75 overs of spin.
Filling the gaps
Xavier Doherty practised during lunch, hitting the one rubber-stump target quite often.
We looked expectantly at the big screen when Matthew Wade swivelled to hit the stumps magnificently and when Cheteshwar Pujara dived across and sent a bullet to Dhoni, who teasingly let the ball strike the stumps between his legs. But both appeals were turned down by the third umpire.
The one that made our jaw drop was when Sachin Tendulkar chased a speeding ball at fine leg. He ran fast, slid at the boundary and threw the ball back to Dhoni, who collected it over the stumps. It was like Tendulkar was 19 again.
Henriques and Pattinson were like robots when fielding near us. Ishant had the crowd's sympathy when he wasn't given a bowl. Ravindra Jadeja frustrated the spectators with his sideways-finger acknowledgements. Virat Kohli did the "Gangnam Style" dance and dragged Sehwag into it as well.
Shot of the day
I have seen Shane Watson pull a hundred times on television, but watching it live was delicious. Harbhajan Singh bowled a short one and Watson, quick on his feet, went back and timed it exquisitely over midwicket with a short-arm jab.
The security checking is very severe. They even check the space beneath the cellphone battery. Even loose change gets confiscated. Can you imagine that they expected me to carry a notepad without a pen?
Banner of the day
Some of the messages I saw on the big screen from spectators: "I work from home today i.e. from chepauk"; "Dhoni, pls sign my leave letter"; "When Dhoni hits the ball, even Google can't search it". There was a Zuari Cements sponsor sticker under the screen. Someone sent in a message that read: "Sorry Zuari Cements, Sachin is stronger than you". Pat came the reply: "Yes, we do agree - By Zuari Cements."
Marks out of 10
7, because while the spin bowling was good, the batsmen's footwork was very poor, thus failing to set the tone for a fifth-day thriller.
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