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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 10:41 GMT
A rude awakening for the Aussies
Phil Long
By Phil Long
Travelling fan in Mumbai

On a typical Friday evening Marine Parade in Mumbai is a place where family groups wander to the bright lights of Chowpatty Beach or where clandestine couples canoodle as the sun dips over the horizon of Back Bay.

But this Friday evening they were joined by pockets of bemused Australian cricket fans struggling to come to terms with the two days of cricketing carnage that had unfolded at the Wankhede Stadium just an Indian overthrow away.

Despite the unseasonal rain that lashed Mumbai on the morning of the first day of the Test it proved to be a very definite calm before the cricketing storm of the following two days.

Harbhajan Singh celebrates a wicket, and so does the crowd
Harbhajan Singh celebrates a wicket, and so does the crowd

The curtailed events of day one - just four overs were bowled amid some very primitive mopping-up techniques - did have one beneficial effect for Mumbai's cricket-goers.

With the openers gone, the stage was set for one Sachin Tendulkar to dazzle his home crowd and lead an Indian fightback.

With an early 9am start on the agenda the queue for tickets was already being reported as a quarter of a mile long when I tuned into the local news at 7am.

The Sachin effect is one not to be underestimated and when the Little Master was out soon after the start of play the word from outside was that the queue immediately disintegrated as disappointed punters decided to head to work after all.

The crowd in Bangalore had been loud, the support in Chennai knowledgeable and Nagpur's quaint ground a throwback to days gone by but here in Mumbai the atmosphere was loud, brash and, just sometimes, a little too partisan for its own good.

Buoyed by a fighting performance by their boys the home crowd not only got behind Dravid and his men but also started to have a go at the Australian fielders positioned close to the boundary.

It may not have been exactly the mental disintegration that Steve Waugh preached during his time in charge but one or two of the Australian fielders looked shell-shocked after a session of having their parentage called into question by a 20,000 strong chant.

With every ball likely to produce a wicket, appeal or scrambled run it was like watching a highlights package.

The tension was cranked up a notch (if that was possible) when the Pavilion scoreboard, the source of the score to 80% of the crowd, packed up and died at 44-4.

When it did finally splutter back into life its information was so unreliable that the score ended up being relayed around the terraces by word of mouth.

But when Glenn McGrath edged the final ball to slip no one could be in any doubt as to who had won the Test as the roar of 30,000 hysterical fans engulfed the stadium.

And with that incredible noise still ringing in their ears those Australian fans took that walk along Marine Parade, the final frontier crossed but a 3-0 victory snatched from their grasp.


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