FAN FOLLOWING

First-person reports from the stands

Australia v Pakistan, World Cup 2015, 3rd Q-F, Adelaide

March 20, 2015

Wahab's roar, and mad Maxwell

Aaron Owen

Aaron's Finch calm catching gave the Australian supporters plenty to cheer about © AFP

Choice of game:
The World Cup was last in Australia in 1992. I was 15. I had hair and my size 32 jeans fit, no worries. I didn't go to a game.

Twenty-three years on, the hairline has receded, the size 32 pants don't get a look-in in my wardrobe rotation, and the World Cup is back in town! I wasn't going to miss it this time.

My cricket-obsessed brother, Mike, gifted me a birthday present ticket to the India v Pakistan game earlier in the tournament - perhaps the best gift ever.

Sitting in the new southern stand, my faith in its structural integrity was tested when the raucous (that word is not even loud enough) predominately Indian crowd went mental after each and every ball - be it a run, wicket, dot or a slight change in wind direction. Anything.

So, on the back of having attended that match I came home jumped on the net and bought two tickets for the quarter-final. Nervously I watched stuttering, buffering images of the group games play out on my laptop. We (not they, note) made it. So did Pakistan.

Game on.

Team supported
Not Pakistan.

Key performer
Josh Hazlewood deserved his Man-of-the-Match award after bowling well and taking four wickets. Steven Smith stabilised the chase and Shane Watson got us home. Aaron Finch deserves a mention too. Not for his cool first name, but for his calm catching. They win matches apparently.

One thing I'd have changed about the day
To borrow from Neville Cardus' wanting to see Victor Trumper score 100 out of Australia all out for 137, I felt similarly with Shahid Afridi. It would have been pleasing for his innings to have gone on a little longer. Oh well, he'll probably have another couple of comebacks in him yet.

The interplay I enjoyed
Wahab Riaz venting his frustration - understandably. He was fast. He was angry. He was let down by his fieldsmen. He showed it. Roarrr…

Wow moment
Making our way over the new footbridge crossing the Torrens River and T's [my companion for the game] face light up seeing the ground for the first time and her unbridled joy as we cantered in. And I couldn't help but remember being nine years old and going for the first time with Pop.

Player watch
T was keen to get an autograph to complete her cricket experience, but as I warned her, signatures are at a premium at 'big' matches where captains are less likely to let players hug the boundary and sign away. Eyes on the prize stuff. So, even though I spotted Andy Zaltzman and my brother saw Shane Warne sneaking a ciggie puff, we didn't get a signature. This time.

Shot of the day
Glenn Maxwell played a few Glenn Maxwell shots that went to or over the boundary. I hadn't seen his show before. It is big.

Crowd meter

Given the India/Pakistan game attracted a crowd of over 40 000, I was a little underwhelmed when the 35,000 figure for the day popped up on the big screen. It was a quarter-final, and Australia were playing. C'mon.

Fancy dress index
There was the now traditional guy revealing way too much in a blue lycra onesie. A Geoffrey Edelsten look-a-like in garish yellow suit and two fella's in blow up green and gold sumo outfits. Of course.

Overall Australia won with plenty of overs to spare and wickets in hand, but it wasn't as easy a victory as the scorecard suggests. Or perhaps I was just on more tender tenterhooks given the occasion. Rah rah?

Marks out of 10
Had a blast. Australia won. I saw cricket with fresh eyes. That doesn't happen every day - excitability aside, 8 out of 10.

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Aaron Owen is a 37-year-old Sydney-born but long-time Adelaide resident, who has eaten, slept and breathed cricket since age five. A former Echunga cricket club googly bowler, he believes his batting is yet to be truly recognised but retains hope. A left winger, with a dash of traditionalist conservatism he is yet to be convinced Adelaide Oval needed to become "new".

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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