If you are watching a match at the stadium there are a few norms you must follow:
– Get to the stadium early to see the players practice
– On day one do not miss the toss
– Never ever miss the first and last ball of each day in the test match!
– On the last day don’t miss the presentation ceremony!

So there, as is the norm I reached the stadium well in time anticipating that there would be a felicitation ceremony held for the three biggies of Indian cricket:
1. Rahul Dravid for his 100th test match
2. Sachin Tendulkar for becoming the most test-capped Indian player
3. Anil Kumble for claiming 500 wickets in test cricket, the first Indian bowler to do so!

Little did the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) know that having this ceremony before start of play and delaying it by half hour than the usual would hit India later in the day.

Indian team went again with 5 bowlers. I don’t get why. After the performance in Mohali India needed to play an extra batsmen and Bhajji could have well sat out. Anyways, so India did what they did. Dravid is not as lucky as Saurav or Azhar in winning the tosses for matches that matter, and this time when he did, he disappointed by opting to bowl first. Well he thought Wankhede pitch known to assist seamers on day one, morning session could prove fruitful for India; or on the other hand he would have gone by history and avoided taking any chances. In the last 5 years in matches played in Wankhede, India’s batting has not had a great first day!
You can see for yourself:

Year 2000: India Vs SA
Year 2001: India Vs Aus
Year 2002:Ind Vs WI (Exception)
Year 2004: India Vs Aus

So there, choose to call it or attacking move or defensive either way I was not too happy with Dravid’s decision. With the start delayed by half-hour some advantage would be lost and Mumbai isn’t exactly cold at this time of the year for any dew to last longer!

The other reason for the Mumbai crowd’s disappointment with Dravid’s decision was that they would not get to see Sachin bat on Sunday, a holiday here. And when Sachin bats you won’t have any place to even stand in the stadium, it gets that jam-packed!The stadium was quite full than what you would expect for a test match and with the first two days nicely placed on a weekend most Mumbaikars made sure they were present to witness it.

England started steadily and only last one wicket to Shree Santh in the first session. I thought England won the first session cause when you are put into bat the opposition is expecting to get atlast 3 wickets in and when you don’t let them achieve that you go one up.

Session 2 belong entirely to England and Owais Shah. I agree Strauss batted well (and very lucky too. He got 3 lives, one by Dravid and 2 by Dhoni) but Owais Shah stole the show. Here is batsman who has class. The second ball he faced; he danced down the track to Bhajji. No England batsman would do that and Owais should attribute his confidence against spinners to the Asian blood running in him! He drove, cut and moved his feet to perfection. Not once did he look nervous or out of sorts. Confidence from the word go! Although I found his stance a bit odd, just as I find Pietersen, Chanderpaul and Gillepsie’s. Fortunately Owais is pretty steady and does not shuffle too much.

A trifle sad that he did not come out to bat after tea, but what a fine debut! Pitersen came and was his usual self. But boy was he ruffled up by Munaf. My heart went out to the lanky bowler. He bowled his heart out and was probably the best among the lot but sadly no wickes to show against his name! He was the reson why the crowd after falling asleep in the session after lunch woke up again post-tea. In that spell he indeed spit venom and how disappointed I was when he did not get that lbw appeal against Strauss. Simon Taufel why are you so damn accurate!!

Pitersen got out to a very poor shot and he will curse himself for not hanging in there, for there was only half-hour’s play left when he departed. Flintoff looked assured but I hope Munaf can shake these blokes again! Well if you can’t get them, hit them! Let them smell the leather, our batsman do it all the time.

India disappointed. The bowlers never made the batsmen play and fielding was average. How can you give a batsman three lives; that’s truly unpardonable. Dhoni’s keeping was not upto the mark; he failed to gather some pretty regulation takes. Bhajji’s dive to stop the off-drive was hilarious; he dived before the ball came in and only to see the ball shoot past him for a four. Nice way to make a complete fool of yourself. Even Sachin missed one! So you knew it was not going to be India’s day. I wonder why Dravid did not try Tendulkar for an over or two? It would have been worth the risk, any which ways the regular bowlers failed to get a wicket or stem the run-flow.

Well in all not such a great start to this historic test for India but the England batsmen can pat themselves on the back for putting up a good show. And did someone tell me that England was fielding its second best batting line-up? It definitely did not look like they did.

Wankhede was pretty much the same. Stands and facilities for public still in the pretty bad shape!

No water allowed inside and food and water being sold at 5 times the amount of their MRP. (On a serious note, can anyone tell me if we can take this matter up up to any authorities? This is daylight looting! A glass of water costing Rs 2.25 was being sold at Rs 10, Ice-cream costing Rs 12 at Rs 30. It’s ridiculous!)

Rude policemen and add to it the newly appointed private security guards. When we were standing in the gallery to watc hthe felicitation closesly, one guard kept pestering us to sit down on our seats! He didn’t even let us enjoy the proceedings! Fortunately they did not ask us to sit down when we were dancing at the fall of the wicket or ask us to shut up when we were cheering.

An announcement made very seriously caught my ears, ‘People in the north stand stadium are requested not to give any kind of abuses to any player’. This I think was a result of the unfortunate incident during the 2002 test match against WI were Harbhajan was humiliated by a few jerks in the North stand. But this announcement seemed to have had no effect on anyone! I’m personally against any kind of abuse towards the players or any person. And it was pretty bad to hear youngsters give a mouthful to players. Purely in bad taste and paints a very sorry picture to the touring English crowd. I see no reasons why people need to abuse players. Cheering can be done in good sense and with some fine clean humor, mouthing abuses not good. And most of it came from the so-called sophisticated blokes! The rich-spoilt brats, maybe their parents use the same language at home and if they don’t maybe they need to teach their kids how to behave in public! The most disheartening aspect at the stadium, that seems to increase very year. I’ve been to the stadium every year for 13 years now and only of late have I noticed this trend of abusing players. It’s got to stop!

I met a couple of Brit folks and had a great time talking about the game and the atmosphere at the stadium. When they heard chants of ‘Gali Gali mein shor hain, Pakistan chor hain’ from North stand, they asked me what was that all about; I told them it’s practically a ritual at the Wankhede stadium where Pakistan is cursed irrespective of the oppostion! The smile on their faces was worth a picture!

I wonder how pack the stadium will be tommorow after India’s no-show today. No Sachin batting either. Monday should be the day to watch out for! I’ll be there throughout and keep you all posted as well.Till tomorrow then!