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Fan Following

Is it ABD or ABV?

An Indian fan couldn't have asked for more on day one: great weather, spinners running riot and a fighting knock from a modern great

Atul Bhogle
16-Nov-2015
AB de Villiers creams one through the off side, India v South Africa, 2nd Test, 1st day, Bangalore, November 14, 2015

AB de Villiers was the Bangalore crowd's favourite  •  Associated Press

Choice of game
It is not every day that the World No. 1 team visits for an extended series. Having been deprived of live Test cricket for three years in Bangalore, I reckoned it was my best chance of catching some quality Test match action.
Key performer
R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja spun webs around the South African batsmen and only AB de Villiers could break free. While they were guilty of playing for non-existent spin in Mohali, here they seemed to play at every delivery, but they found this strategy ineffective as well.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
I would have loved to have legspinner Amit Mishra in the team. For many an occasion, Virat Kohli had to operate Varun Aaron or Ishant Sharma from an end and it was only an hour into the second session that we had spin at both ends which clearly exerted much greater pressure on the batsmen.
The interplay you enjoyed
ABD and Jadeja were involved in an interesting cat-and-mouse game, with ABD intent on attacking him every time Jadeja came on. A couple of inside-out shots through extra cover were a delight to watch. On other occasions ABD had to resort to a hasty retreat. Jadeja had the final word though as ABD failed to get to the pitch and ballooned a catch which was well taken by Wriddhiman Saha.
Wow moment
While some of De Villiers' shots were good to watch, the one moment which stood out was Aaron's dismissal of Hashim Amla. Aaron was generally wayward but this one was a peach. Amla played inside the line as he was squared up, the ball beating the outside edge to send the off stump cartwheeling. Such sights are a rarity with Indian pacers, and when one does come through, becomes all the more special.
Game of Thrones reference
Ishant Sharma was fielding at long-off, and his new tied hairstyle and facial hair made him look a bit like Khal Drogo. The GoT reference did not stop. I turned around and found a guy with a 'The North remembers' T-shirt!
Shot of the day
It has to be one of those inside-out drives AB played against Jadeja. He is impossibly fast on his feet, much quicker than rest of the South Africans and most Indian batsmen too.
Crowd meter
Bangalore has always drawn good crowds for Test cricket and today was no different. For me, it was another reminder that Test cricket needs a niche crowd and should be restricted to the metros, Bangalore and Hyderabad included. I would be very interested to see how the BCCI's latest decision (to award Test status to a host of new stadiums) turns out.
Entertainment
A drummer in front of the giant screen kept the crowd engaged throughout the day. Other than that, it was mostly Ashwin and Co. who were responsible for entertaining the crowd.
The king's reception
Sachin Tendulkar walking in to bat was always special and was a sight to behold. The disappointment of a dismissal only used to last a moment before the crowd started cheering their favourite hero on to the field. I had seen this in Indian grounds, and even the Lord's and the Oval, but AB de Villiers' reception in Bangalore was still special and matched Tendulkar's in the crowd's love for the man, the joy in the hope of seeing him in flesh, and the sheer goodwill of the crowd in hoping the man does well. If India loves AB, Bangalore is infatuated by the man. One thing the Indian crowds need to sort out though - is it 'ABV' or 'ABD'?
Enhanced viewing
My Celestron binoculars allowed me a spectacular view of the proceedings, from my vantage point from above the sight screen. Thankfully it was one of the few items the security allowed to be carried into the stadium. Any kind of bags and even umbrellas were not allowed. One gentleman just left his bag and umbrella under a tree and went in, and actually found it lying exactly there, at close of play.
Overall
One of my most loved memories was to watch Indian spinners, especially Anil Kumble, run through an opposition. It was great to witness one such event live against a good batting line-up.
Marks out of 10
10 on 10. An Indian fan could not have asked for more. Good stadium, great weather, a fighting knock from a modern great, and Indian spinners running riot.

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Atul considers life to be an allegory for cricket rather than the other way round and dreams of writing a cricket book one day. He sometimes vents his frustrations here