Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A CRICINFO FAN FOLLOWING REPORT

Have you ever heard of Cricinfo's fan following page? Well, if you haven't then here it is: It is a space where fans can share their stadium experience through their match/day's reports. This one is my report of the 4th day's play of the Chennai Test between India and Australia.

 Choice of game
The last time a test match was played at Chennai, I was writing my 12th grade half-yearly exam. Now after finishing 4 years of engineering, there is a test match. How on earth could I miss after the drama last time around. Moreover, the rivalry drags you in more than their rankings.

Team supported 
When I entered the yellow den many thoughts scrambled my brain. It was that kind of test match lined up for an exciting 4th day’s play. I took my seat hoping for an enthralling day with the match still in the balance, but hoping India would have a slighter edge.
The mood swings did not take long as I watched in disbelief when the Aussies were falling like a pack of domino. I applauded with big smiles when each wicket tumbled, but somewhere at the edge of my heart there was desperation for a big partnership to balance the test match for the sake of a thrilling climax.

Key performer
Ashwin was terrific with the ball, but still bowled some rare loose balls. With those rare gifts, what followed were some rare beauties too, thanks to the wicket.

The Change that could have been
Definitely, an Aussies fight back would have spiced up this test match. Cowan, Warner and Clarke could have taken a leaf out of Henriques book of converting starts into resistant batting.

The interplay
There were a few jaw dropping moments, but sadly though they came only in short bursts. Dhoni’s aggressive mood lifted a dodgy Monday morning. The Warner-Clarke counter attack was enthralling, but sadly lasted only 35-40 minutes. But the long wait for the best moment was worth every rupee. Ishant Sharma was welcomed with huge applause and cheers when he came on to bowl after 75 overs of full spin.

Filling the gaps
 Doherty looked like one hell of a spinner, but only to be denied to play this test match. With one rubber stump as target, he was astonishingly hitting it quite often. Definitely, worth enjoying while having lunch and realizing the irony.

Wow moment
With huge expectations, we all looked at the big screen, not once, but twice and two words “NOT OUT” flashed both times. First when Wade did a swivel to hit the stumps magnificently and the next when Pujara dived across and sent a bullet to Dhoni who teasingly let the ball strike the stumps between his legs.
The one that made our jaw drop was when Sachin chased a speeding ball at fine leg. Sachin was blazing against the wind; his hair stylishly bending, then the slide as he pushed the ball, and finally the throw back to Dhoni as he collected at top of the bails. It was a challenge that brought the 19 year old out of Sachin.

Player watch
In the first session Henriques and Pattinson tried hard to be robots. Ishant being denied the chance to bowl had the sympathies from the crowd. But even he was not spared when Sachin returned to fine-leg. Jadeja was the most irritating of the lot. He would neither lift his hand nor would he ignore. There would always be finger sideways as an acknowledgement. Of course, we were frustrated. We chanted Jadeja in thousand different squeaky voices. Kohli chose the last over for his Gangnam and soon dragged Sehwag.

Shot of the day
I will have to give it to Shane Watson. I have seen his pull a hundred times on television, but at the stadium it was delicious. It was short from Harbhajan and Watson was quick on his feet to realize it. He went back; the short-arm jab and then the pull with scintillating timing as we watched the ball sail over mid-wicket. It was picturesque and his follow-through was one for the photographers.

Tests v limited-overs
One critical aspect is that test cricket brings more out of ourselves. It forces us to express ourselves more. Sometimes we wait 50 overs for a wicket to fall; sometimes the sun soaks us in the waiting for the ball to go high in the air. All the hunger and thirst only delays the inevitable one.

Enhanced viewing
The checking is so notorious that they check the space beneath the cell phone battery. It doesn’t matter if you have coin change worth ten or even twenty rupees because they will be thrown out right in front of your face. Can you imagine that they expected me to carry a notepad without a pen?

Banner of the day
Dhoni was greeted with the interactive big screen. “I work from home today ie from chepauk.” Some kids were serious about their schools “Dhoni, pls sign my leave letter.” Some of them were fond of using only Bing “When Dhoni hits the ball, even Google can’t search it.” The big screen sponsor sticker was Zuari Cements. “Sorry Zuari Cements, Sachin is stronger than you”. Immediately came the reply “Yes, we do agree- By Zuari Cements.”

The Ugly,the Agony and the Mis-hit
Both Cowan and Warner were furious at their dismissals. As they exited, they shattered their helmets at the sponsor side board and a stunning silence followed. It remained there till the end.
Jadeja was left in complete disarray when Vijay failed to dive for a short-leg catch. Jadeja went down and begged after giving a stare at Vijay. Warner tried a ferocious pull off Ashwin, but it landed just in front of Ashwin. Everyone had lost sight of the ball. Pujara’s helmet vibration was felt amongst us and shouts of “awww..ooooh” swung again and again like a pendulum whenever ball was pitched short.

Marks out of 10
I would go with 7 because along with some good spin bowling what accompanied were some very poor foot movement and thus failing to set the tone for a 5 day thriller.

Here is the link to the above report published in Cricinfo's fan following page.

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