As the second day of the India-Australia test series wore on at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium in Uppal, Hyderabadis turned up in scores to see the Team India bat it out.
While day one had a bit of chaos with the stringent security measures, spectators seemed to come prepared for the day without their cell phones or cameras. As the sun shifted from the East to the West, spectators scrambled through the stadium looking for place under the shade. With just the South East pavilion finding some respite from the heat with the newly constructed sun shade, the other stands basked in the heat. But that barely did little to dampen the excitement of the audience, who eagerly waited for Sachin Tendulkar to take to the pitch.
The match began with a two-minute silence in memory of the Dilsukhnagar blast victims. Both teams lined up on the pitch to pay their respects. And then opening batsmen duo Vijay Murali and Virendra Sehwag started the day.
While the audience cheered the partnership as it began, it came to an abrupt end just 17 runs into the match with Sehwag being knocked out in his sixth. Cheteshwar Pujara came in next and the partnership lasted till the end of the day with Vijay hauling in 129 and Pujara a much better 162. While fans were glad that not one more wicket fell, despite a few close shaves, the disappointment was palpable at 4:30pm when the pitch cleared and Sachin didn’t get a chance to swing the bat at what may just be the last time he plays a test series in Hyderabad. Said Swetha V, a Sachin fan who joined in the ‘Sachin chant’ at the end of the match, “I was very hopeful of seeing the Master Blaster play today as this is a rare chance for me to attend a cricket match since it’s happening in the city I am in.”
From families including the grandparents and infants to large groups of friends, the turnout was much better given it was a Sunday, and was more like a picnic as pizza delivery men and popcorn vendors meandered through the sweaty crowd. Since no kind of personal belongings – save for your wallet and the clothes on your back – were allowed through security, water packet vendors and ice cream push carts made a killing just outside stadium.
While the running commentary that usually accompanies the telecast was absent, the spectators more than made up for it with some admiring the pace of Australian bowler Pattinson and others noting that Vijay was fatigued.
A resounding “ooooh” dripping with disappointment would echo most times when the ball would barely make a few meters after bouncing off the bat. A few Australian fans could be seen among the crowd who didn’t seem to happy with the Australian bowling. But all in all, it was definitely a more active day than day one.