July 20, 2014
Choice of game
My definition of an ultimate cricket viewing experience is to watch a Test at Lord's. Moreover, the third day of a Test is often the most crucial one, so I was hardly able to sleep properly the previous night due to the excitement of the day ahead.
I have always been a passionate Indian fan and today was no different.
Liam Plunkett ensured England surpassed India's total of 295 with a well-compiled maiden Test fifty in the process. When it was his turn to bowl, he got the crucial wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli off successive deliveries at a time when England were starting to look a bit helpless. If not for his contribution, India would have been firmly in the driver's seat now.
One thing I'd change
There were sections of people who fell asleep during the second session because of the slow scoring rate. If it had been a bit faster paced, people would have been more engaged. I would also have liked to overturn Bruce Oxenford's decision to give Ajinkya Rahane out caught behind as he was clearly struck on his arm guard. He rescued India's first innings with a brilliant century, and I felt bad for him to be given out to such a poor decision.
The interplay I enjoyed
Bhuvneshwar Kumar v the English tailenders. He made beautiful use of this pitch - which had good carry and bounce - testing the batsmen with a probing line outside off, and mixing it occasionally with well-targeted deliveries on the stumps. Although Matt Prior and Plunkett started scoring briskly, Bhuvneshwar's accuracy ensured the English innings did not last long. He deservedly carved his name on the Lords' honours board with 6 for 82.
Filling the gaps
I spent most of the time during the breaks between the two elevators of the JP Morgan Media Center since all the commentators and journalists have to pass through these elevators to get to the media centre upstairs. It was a golden opportunity to meet them and get their autographs and/or photos. During the tea break I got the chance to take my photo with the Investec Test trophy.
Shikhar Dhawan had to turn around and run while constantly keeping his eyes on the ball to take the catch to dismiss Prior. This catch reminded me a bit of Kapil Dev's catch to dismiss Viv Richards during the 1983 World Cup final at Lord's.
Shot of the day
Cheteshwar Pujara's exquisite cover drive off Ben Stokes in the early part of his innings was the best stroke of the day. It was perfectly timed and had an elegant follow through.
Some England fans booed Ravindra Jadeja when he was introduced into the attack and welcomed James Anderson with rousing applause to the crease. People sitting in the lower tier of the Compton Stand tried to initiate a Mexican wave several times, however, much to their dismay, other sections of the crowd hardly showed any interest. The crowd cheered Indian wickets and England's boundaries. There was plenty of debate around the BCCI's reluctance to embrace DRS and a feeling of India having deserved the incorrect dismissal of Rahane for not agreeing to use DRS.
Burgers, baps, curries, pies, fish and chips and burritos were on the menu. There was a Q&A session with Mark Ramprakash during the tea interval.
Tests v limited-overs
I have watched all three formats of the game from stadiums and enjoy them equally and feel that each has its own place in the sport. Judging by today's nearly housefull crowd, Test cricket can definitely survive provided the pitches are lively as it produces a gripping encounter. This match is in balance even after three days of play, which just shows how much room there is in Test cricket to battle for the initiative. Limited-overs cricket is also exciting and more face paced than Test cricket is. That makes it just as interesting to watch, although one bad session can affect you more in ODIs and T20s compared to Tests.
The atmosphere was fantastic. The Indian fans were sang songs and chanted "Siiir Ravi Jadeeeja" whenever Jadeja was involved in any action on the field. There were some lighthearted moments in the Upper Tier of the Compton Stand where I was sitting when someone opened a champagne bottle and the cork flew about ten rows in front of us and hit a spectator on his head. Two people sitting beside me were entertaining the crowd by mimicking Geoffrey Boycott's commentary style. There seems to be a slight IPL influence on the series as "Harrogate Spring Hydration" breaks are what the drinks breaks are being called now.
Marks out of 10
Ten. I managed to get 16 autographs and more than ten selfies with current and retired cricketers, which I was absolutely thrilled about. Despite the slow scoring rate, this match is tantalisingly poised thanks to M Vijay's watchful innings and Plunkett's energised spell in the last session. It is still anybody's game, however. I think we are definitely going to see a result.
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