First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
The deciding Test of the series at a ground with a good atmosphere, during a month that normally offers the lowest rain interruptions during the English summer, wasn't one I could pass on. I decided to do three days this time around.
India. Trailing 1-2 and with the game starting on the Indian independence day, I was fervently hoping the return of the lucky charms of the Lord's Test - Siva, my friend from Dresden and from my hometown, Stuart Binny, and I - will change the team's fortunes. I don't think we worked, though.
Originally set for the legendary Brabourne Stadium, we had to change our travel plans to Mohali to watch the last match of the India-England Test series in 2008. That Test proved to be the last for Peter Moores in his first stint as England coach. After the recent Lord's Test defeat, I was quietly hoping to be the Moores' jinx yet again. If only the Indian team showed some fight since that landmark Lord's Test.
It was the day of Chrises. With some questions raised recently about Woakes and Jordan, both played their parts to perfection. Whilst Woakes' consistency was wow-worthy, Jordan's consistent spray-gun style bowling makes one wonder as to how big a match-winner he would be, once he gets his radar consistently right.
Shot of the day
The first of the two off drives by Sam Robson. Playing for his place in the side, that shot had a touch of class, especially after the Indian struggles earlier in the day in that corridor of uncertainty.
Face-off I relished
Varun Aaron against the England speedsters. With a score to settle after Stuart Broad's injury, the pace attack did unleash a few short ones at Aaron. After taking a few blows, Aaron succumbed rather tamely to Woakes.
More saffron, green and Team India blue than ever. Back in the day in Bangalore, I used to get my mom to give me saffron, red and green dress materials to make funky headbands for the cricket. A good 20 years since, I see myself digging into my daughter's painting materials to fix up face paint.
A full house, with the majority being home fans, came into its own during the second session. The OCS stand saw an interesting duel between the fans and the stewards over beer snakes. As the first snake got snaffled by the stewards, various sections of their crowd started to contribute to newer snakes, with the rest of the crowd firmly behind them. This made up for the somewhat lack of entertainment out in the middle.
Stuart Binny got his first song today, to the tune of Pink Panther. It went "Stuey Stuey, Stuey, Stuey Stuey Stuey, Stueyyyyyy, Stuey Binny".
This happened on a few occasions today, with the curious inspectors being of the feathered variety. On one particular occasion, it took all of MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, James Anderson and Robson to get them off the pitch. Hmmm... were there any jellybeans on the pitch?
Lord's v The Oval
Though lacking in history stakes to Lord's, The Oval always made up with their fabulous atmosphere. The recent introduction of free internet to all spectators at Lord's has made it even more convenient. The Oval stewards' bizarre request to a couple of Indian supporters chanting the bowler's name to "keep it down since the umpire cannot hear the edges" will dent The Oval's atmosphere edge. Lord's is my choice.
Marks out of 10
6. Insipid and gutless batting display by India, which was in contrast to the comfort shown by the England openers. It will be a hard game to save from here on for India.
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