Indeed. The Bangalore Test -- where a generous new friend allowed me to triple my count of Test match days watched -- was a fine advertisement for the game, filled with superb performances. Sure, most of them were from the Pakistanis, but so what? Sure, Pakistan won, but so what? Thank you to two good teams -- one greatly talented, one greatly determined -- for producing such an engrossing contest. Who could ask for anything better?
I was lucky enough to be in the stadium for the hour that, for me, turned the match around. Shahid Afridi, for me, was the man of the match despite Younis Khan's run-feast and Virender Sehwag's crackerjack effort. First, he terminated a handy little partnership -- Laxman-Kumble, for the 10th wicket -- that was prising the game from Pakistan's grip. Then he played a sequence of shots that seemed designed to send only one message to anyone watching: one team's going to win this thing, and that's mine.
That was the swaggering confidence of the man. Given the all-or-nothing way he plays, he must be an immensely frustrating fellow to captain. But just for the chance he can turn a game inside-out, just for the confidence he instills in team-mates by doing so, just for the way he can deflate opponents with a few massive hammer-strikes -- for those things alone, Afridi deserves his place in the team.
In much the same way, I've always believed Eknath Solkar should find a place in an all-time Indian team. Solely for his fielding, for the extra edge he gave his team with that fielding, for the tiny doubt he sowed in opposing batsmen's minds. That's the quality Afridi has.
Watched Younis Khan in the middle of Pakistan innings #1. As his partners departed from the other end and the Indians went into their happy huddle (the huddle, by itself, now a too-familiar cricket staple), he stood there, leaning on his bat, waiting for the next partner to enter and likely leave. A somewhat forlorn figure. What does a guy like that think at times like that?
"Is nobody going to stay with me?" "What a dumb shot old XYZ played!" "Wonder what's for dessert at lunch." Or something else?
And a similar query went through my mind as I watched the Indians come out after lunch. Dravid and Karthick were in the lead, walking steadily towards their positions behind the stumps (as first slip and wicketkeeper, respectively), in animated conversation. What do they talk about?
"Man, this Younis is an obstacle!" "Like the way you caught Youhana!" "Didja try the kaali-dal? Out of this world!" Or something else?
How does a wave start? I mean, if I started waving my arms up and down, I think my neighbours in the stands would, at best, look at me strangely and move a few seats away. Yet every now and then, a wave would erupt, rippling around the stadium. How? Related question: how does the direction get determined? Some waves move clockwise, some anticlockwise. (None, let it be said, uncleclockwise). Why?
I think it was that irrepressible publication, the Journal of Irreproducible Results, that once published a paper on what has to be a related phenomenon in the NBA (that's the National Basketball Association). When a player shoots and misses by a mile, and if that player is from the visiting team, a spontaneous chant starts up: "Air Ball! Air Ball!" The interesting thing is not so much that such a chant starts up, nor that it happens in every NBA venue. What's truly interesting about this is that, wherever and whenever these two words are chanted, they hit the SAME two notes on the scale.
How? Gotta go check my copy of JIRR. Gotta get the JIRR to investigate the wave now. Unless they already have.
One whole section of the stands at the Chinnaswamy stadium has gigantic nets strung up, from rafters to fence below. But only that section, perhaps one-fourth of the entire stadium circumference. The nets are there to prevent stuff being thrown onto the field.
But why only those stands? They are the cheap ones. Is it a determined demographic fact that only the denizens of cheap stands throw stuff?