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Classy shots, acrobatic saves

MS Dhoni plays the square cut Associated Press

Choice of game
I have watched most of the Test matches played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium since 2004. The last time I went there for a Test, I was privileged to see a masterclass in batting by Sachin Tendulkar. Though age has caught up with the great man, I felt a special innings was around the corner and was hoping to be at the stadium when he batted.

Key performer
Virat Kohli played a significant innings of the day. He was slow to start and was overshadowed by Suresh Raina, he paced his innings brilliantly. He played two straight drives that would have made Tendulkar proud. But it was a pull off Doug Bracewell that made the crowd rise to its feet.

Innings of the day
Raina may look at this knock as a turning point in his Test career. He played good strokes, and there were none of those swipes and hoicks he uses in the shorter formats. He wasn't severely tested by the short ball, but he played them competently and displayed his growing confidence with a controlled pull, Bracewell being the victim again.

One thing I'd have changed
I am an unabashed admirer of Chris Martin. He is the kind of cricketer I like - hardworking, honest and someone who can laugh at himself. I was hoping he would play and I would get a chance to watch him bat.

Wow moment
Kohli played two cover drives that would have gone to boundary but for Brendon McCullum. He stopped it inches from the rope with acrobatic saves both times. The crowd appreciated the effort every time the replay was shown on the giant screen.

Crowd meter
Test matches in Bangalore have always had good crowds. After defeating Australia in 2010, MS Dhoni even went on to say that the Bangalore crowd was the 12th man. I was a bit apprehensive about the crowd turnout for this game, considering that New Zealand was a low-profile team. But because the ticket prices were low (gallery tickets were Rs 50), a lot of people turned up and in the ensuing chaos to enter the stadium, I missed the remainder of the New Zealand innings. The noise generated by the spectators more than made up for the few unoccupied seats in the stadium.

Tests v limited-overs
I have watched IPL games at the same stadium, but I prefer the quiet calm associated with Test matches. The blaring music and fireworks are not for me. The gallery stand, which gives the spectator a midwicket view, was a nice vantage point to observe the game from.

Interplay I enjoyed most
Dhoni forced Jeetan Patel to adapt a defensive line by attacking him as soon as he came on strike. His first six was the trademark helicopter shot, the second was more of a mishit that went to midwicket. Patel immediately went around the wicket and adopted a more defensive leg stump line.

Marks out of 10
This was a good day of Test cricket with plenty of runs and wickets. The only thing I would change was the over-rate. At the end of the day, nine overs were yet to be bowled - this despite having an early start and the using of the extra half hour. The game is nicely balanced with both teams happy with the days' proceedings. The cricket today gets 8 from me.