Choice of game
I have been at Lord's Tests in the past, but never on Day 1 which invariably falls on a work day. But this time I wanted to be a part of the special day, and I was in luck since I got tickets allotted by the MCC lottery.
India all the way. But being a cricket lover, I was also looking to witness the class of Alastair Cook and James Anderson, as well as the exciting new talent in Joe Root, Gary Ballance etc. Anderson did not disappoint.
Ajinkya Rahane by a long margin. He battled through the tough second session and made most of the opportunities in the third. Though there is a lot of cricket left to be played in this Test, I feel the extra 100 added to the score will play a huge role in determining the outcome of the game.
Face-off I relished
Plunkett v Rahane. During the second session, Plunkett was beating the bat very often with his measured outswing. Rahane was lucky to survive that duel. Captain Cook set a rather intriguing leg side field for a seemingly Mitchell Johnson type of attack. However, that ended up playing into the hands of Rahane, who was well set by then.
None of my usual India '99 Cricket World Cup Jersey, Indian scarf, tri-colour paint, flaming headgear / hairdo, bugle etc. were on, since I was invited by a MCC member for a tour of the pavilion (Read: Formal attire only). So, it was just a suit for the day and I had to dig into my tie collection to pull out a rare 1983 Prudential World Cup tie, to proudly display India's greatest achievement to date at the Home of Cricket. My iPad had to go along to type down my Fan following report.
Close encounter (also generation gap)
On their way back from the nursery ground, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes were caught by autograph-hunting kids. One individual sat on the first row of the Edrich Lower stand - the former England player, Nick Knight, who was taking a break from his hospitality duties. I went over and sat next to him and had a nice time talking about the current India and England teams. The kids eventually found out and were all over Nick for selfies, the new autograph.
Shot of the day
That six by Rahane, which was a very good shot. As he was three maximums away from his century, someone in the crowd screamed out to him to get three sixes. Almost on cue, Rahane belted out a surprise maximum.
Normal service was restored with Indian supporters looked increasingly worried at the fall of each India wicket. I say normal service since less than two weeks ago, Lord's had witnessed Indian supporters screaming out "Colly, Colly" on his hat-trick delivery after he had dismissed that man, Rahul Dravid for a golden duck.
The Mound, the grand and upper sections of Compton and Edrich stands were subject to scorching sunshine all through the day. It was a glorious day for cricket alright, but probably a bit too hot for some patrons and there were constant announcements for spectators to keep themselves well hydrated. Shelter for the Compton and Edrich upper stands on the cards?
Songs and chants
On noticing a steady improvement in strokeplay from Cheteshwar Pujara, the Indian supporters started off singing "La La La La, La La La La, Che Pujara" to the tune of "La La La La, La La La La, Say goodbye". After a second rendition of the tune, Pujara was spectacularly castled by Ben Stokes. Needless to say, the English supporters sang the original to bid the batsman goodbye.
Tests v ODIs
I strongly feel that there is enough space and reason for both formats to co-exist. Personally I like Tests more than any other format. Just the ebb and flow of today's play, with batting collapses, excellent seam bowling, and a good lower-order fightback, provided ample evidence of how exciting Test match cricket can be.
TV v stadium
The preparation as a cricket fan starts with having to look for ticket sales, grab them, make travel plans with friends and family, book accommodation, plan the required accessories, the anticipation, the banter, braving the weather and the overly strict security at the ground entrance, the joy of victory and celebrating with unknown fellow fans, stopping the jeetega bhai jeetega chants just before the point of delivery so as not to miss the action, the food and beer lines, the souvenir shops, the friends made in the stands and so on. All that experience is worth the effort. Stadium trumps TV, any day of the year!
Marks out of 10
10. Great weather at Lord's, nice seaming pitch, good start by England, an excellent fightback by the under-rated Rahane and Jimmy on song. The good performances and fight by both teams will stay in memory for a long time to come.
Want to do a Fan Following report? Read our FAQ here