First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
With the Test starting on a Saturday, it was a golden opportunity to watch the first two days without giving the office a miss. Having watched the Aussies crumble against Indian seam and spin on the first day, I was eager to find out if the Indian batting could build upon the good work done by the bowlers.
It was Cheteshwar Pujara's show. He played the role of the sheet anchor to perfection, thwarting the twin threats of James Pattinson and Peter Siddle in the first session and opening up beautifully in the third session to make it India's day. Vijay, him of the six-hitting reputation in the IPL, played the perfect foil, curbing his natural instincts to play as per the team's requirements.
One thing I'd have changed
I would have liked to see the Aussie spinners challenge the batsmen more. Though Xavier Doherty, like Ravindra Jadeja on day one, was extracting good turn and bounce from the pavilion end, neither him nor Glenn Maxwell seemed to have a stock ball they could rely on. It was cannon fodder for the Indian batsmen. Nathan Lyon, with a bit more Test experience, would have been a far better choice in the circumstances.
The missed silence
The two teams lined up at the start of play to observe a two-minute silence in memory of the victims of the recent bomb blast in Hyderabad. However, the announcement was not clearly audible in few of the stands. It led to the bizarre spectacle of half the stadium and the two teams standing silently while the other half went on cheering. Noble intentions thus came to a nought, all due to a faulty public address system.
Interplay I enjoyed
Pattinson was steaming in with intent in the first hour and caused some nervous moments to both Vijay and Pujara. There were a couple of plays and misses and Vijay was lucky to get away with an edge early on. Pattinson's pace was fantastic to watch from behind his arm.
Filling the gaps
The Indian reserves were doing their fielding drills during the lunch break. Shikhar Dhawan looked fittest of the lot and took some very acrobatic catches that were cheered by the crowd.
VVS Laxman came out during the tea break again and was welcomed with a cheer that reverberated through the stands. He would have approved of the way Pujara and Vijay batted today.
Shot of the day
Pujara had shown against New Zealand that he was a compulsive hooker. However, having been dismissed hooking in Bangalore, he had shelved it completely. The shot came out today in the last session, and what a moment he chose to bring it on! The new ball was taken and it was the last chance Australia had of salvaging something from the day's play. Pujara's response was a cracking hook off a bouncer from Pattinson - it soared over fine leg and brought up his 150. The day couldn't have gone more wrong for Australia.
The Hyderabad crowd deserves a special note of appreciation for coming out in full force and braving the hot sun to cheer India. The western stands were the loudest and when they triggered the Mexican wave, it went round the stadium in seven seconds flat. At one moment there were two waves doing the rounds, something I have never seen. The spectators were also very appreciative of the Aussie fielding efforts, which was a welcome break from the trend in Indian grounds - the likes of Chennai and Eden Gardens excluded.
We had learnt our lesson yesterday and had a (very) heavy breakfast before coming into the ground, so as to not be dependent on the Hyderabad Cricket Association's whims and fancies when it came to catering arrangements. Sure enough, there was no packed rice box available today and the crowd had to be content with six-inch pizzas being sold at exorbitant prices. At least there were more water dispensers, which was a bit of a relief.
Tests v limited-overs
I feel watching a Test is always a more rewarding experience for the spectator. It has a certain ebb and flow that is harder to find in limited-overs cricket, and is certainly nonexistent in Twenty20s. The likes of the IPL also have so much noise and sundry entertainment going on that it is hard to focus on the cricket, which in itself is not always interesting.
Each hour in a day's play in a Test might not generate non-stop action, but as they say, good things happen to those who wait - which is exactly what happened today.
Unreasonable demand of the day
Pujara and Vijay were biding their time in the first session, which meant only 49 runs were scored. The crowd, eager to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat, started a "We want Sachin" chant and joined in with the Australians for each appeal, even cheering for an "Out" when a run-out decision was referred to the third umpire.
The demand didn't subside even in the last session, which was a pity. Surely an almost Dravid-VVS like partnership deserved a better reaction? When Pujara brought up his 150 with the aforementioned hook, an elderly gentleman, peeved by the crowd's demand for Tendulkar, retorted: "Do you dare to ask for Sachin even now?"
Marks out of 10
10. As an Indian fan, I was chuffed. The sight of two youngsters batting out the day was very heart-warming.
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