India 2006 - England Cricket Tour
Catch up on the Howzat Travel Ashes tour of Australia as we fill you in on how our trip went.
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Tuesday 7th March
Well here it is the day of departure, the usually anticipation and anxiety fills the stomach. A quick light breakfast and off to London Heathrow T4. Straightforward easy check-in and upstairs to the departure lounge for a beer and last minute shopping. The flight was soon called and boarding commenced on time, a few last minute hitches and late passengers delayed the flight, but soon enough we were aboard the Boeing 747 Delhi bound. 7 hours 40 minutes later we arrived in Delhi for the first time.
Wednesday 8th March
1900: We arrived safely at our hotel - the very pleasant Maya Palace in Chandigarh. A snooze was in order, after which we went out to gain our bearings and find something to eat. The afternoon soon drifted into the evening which was spent with the gathering England supporters. Around 2100 we left for bed feeling shattered.
Thursday 9th March
0940: We eventually gained entry to the ground, and was pleasantly surprised to see the opened bar selling beer. We took our seats ready for play. Freddie won the toss and elected to bat - a tough decision to make with the overnight rain, but the weather was clearing fast.
After the delayed start, and Strauss and Cook's Wickets later, lunch was called with Bell and Pieterson still at the crease. After lunch Pieterson raced towards his 2nd consecutive test match 50, and the beer was now in full flow although the ground was becoming noticeably darker with a storm closing in. The 81-run third-wicket innings was brought to an end when Bell (38) succumbed to the home side's spinner Anil Kumble. Moments later the gloom brought proceedings at the Punjab Cricket stadium to a halt - with Collingwood new to the crease this seemed the right option.
The players did eventfully get back on for a few overs late in the afternoon - Pieterson had smashed 64 runs before being caught and bowled by debutant fast bowler Munaf Patel but the players were soon back off.
We left the ground and headed straight for the Down Under bar, where the English were gathering in abundance. A few beers and a spicy curry later we were getting ready for an early night, hoping that tomorrow would bring improved weather conditions.
Friday 10th March
0745: We headed down for breakfast after a good nights sleep to try the local cuisine, a little spicy for this time of the day but you need something inside you when you start early.
0900: Our taxi was on time and awaiting departure ready for the 0930 early start, we gained entry with ease and took our seat this time near the “Barmy Army” avid fans. Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and Collingwood kept the England innings alive until Kumble struck in his fifth over of the day as he rattled Collingwood's stumps to boost his haul to 498 Test wickets.
Rain and bad light then restricted play to just 14 overs on the second day as England reached 200 for 5.
We left the ground at 4 pm after being told that the day had been called off, we made our way to the town centre to gather with the England support for the evening, the night ended with some good food and the hope that Friday, and the sun would bring a better day, although the pessimists among us feel more rain would be likely.
Typical English take the rain wherever they go!!
Saturday 11th March
Andrew Flintoff made a fine 70 to give England a respectable 300 all out, with Anil Kumble blasted through the England tail to become only the fifth man in history to claim 500 Test wickets.
At the close of the third day India were 149 for 4 with Rahul Dravid holding the home team's batting together. India lost Sehwag cheaply for the third time when Steve Harmison produced a delivery of steeping bounce to earn a catch behind in the fourth over.
A full days cricket but something tells me this game is heading for a draw, we headed back to the hotel. Again feeling shattered we made our way back to the hotel, courtesy of a Tuk Tuk, for some food and an early night, let's hope Sunday brings us a minor miracle.
Sunday 12th March
0930: play attempted to start at 9.30 although the players were straight back off with bad light. Now the Indians were making the most of the poor light conditions, eventually play resumed at around 10.20 once the umpires remembered the March ball!!
India were dismissed fairly early in their first innings but not before they'd established a 38-run lead, although England would have felt hard done to thanks to some poor umpire decisions.
When Pieterson saw the umpires raised finger after the ball deflected off his forearm it seemed inevitable that this was not going to be England’s day.
The fourth day ended with Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones at the crease, with the hosts in the driving seat with a victory in their sights.
We left the ground quietly as the Indian supporters continued their carnival like celebrations. Once we arrived back in Chandigarh we had time to enjoy seeing South Africa beat the Aussies and set a world record score in a one day match, hopefully this won't be the only thing we get to cheer about.
Fingers Crossed Freddie can make a stand at the crease and give us all something to cheer about on the last day!
Monday 13th March
I guess it was down to Freddie Flintoff and Gerrant Jones to give England any chance at all, but the optimism was soon diminished when Jones then Plunket were given out before having the chance to bother the scorers.
Harmison and Freddie Flintoff pushed the England score towards 200 and despite Flintoff's second half-century of the match the innings was soon over as England's tail once again collapsed to leave India a target of just 144 to win.
0245: The lead of 144 and a remaining 70 overs in the day meant it was easy going for the Indians and they claimed their nine wicket victory moments before the scheduled tea break. Cue ecstatic celebrations from the local fans. It's got to be said that they certainly know how to create an atmosphere over here!
0330: Time to make our usual trip by tuk tuk back to the hotel. The early finish will give us the chance to take in some local shopping and surroundings before preparing ourselves for a meal later tonight at a restaurant that comes highly recommended
2200: We arrived back at the hotel and packed the bags ready for our trip to Delhi tomorrow. An early night was in order with the early start ahead.
Tuesday 14th March
1020: New Delhi train station. A mass of touts, taxis, Tuk Tuks and rickshaws lined the very busy streets, it wasn't long before we were making the 10 minute taxi journey to our hotel, the Clark International.
1300: The afternoon was spent browsing the local shops and busy market stalls, which gave us a welcome opportunity to gather some souvenirs and gifts for the folks back home.
1700: Luckily we found a western bar close to our hotel. We spent the early evening drinking the local Kingfisher beer and eating plenty of hot curry. It wasn’t long before we were feeling tired. Today has been a long day and we’ll be up early again tomorrow.
Wednesday 15th March
0300: Due to the Holi festival, our tour to Agra had to start especially early and we departed the hotel at 4am, and started the 230km journey.
0830: Finally we arrived at our Agra hotel, the Holiday Inn. A very western environment allowed us the chance to grab a full English breakfast, something we had been craving for days.
Our chauffer then instructed us that all of the tourist activities would be closed until 3pm due to the festival. We were then told that we would be collected at 3pm to proceed without tour a of Agra.
This gave us a welcome opportunity to recharge the batteries and soak up some of the fabulous Indian sun by the pool.
1500: We were greeted at the hotel by the chauffer and tour guide, the first part of this tour started at Agra fort, a 2.5km perimeter of massive red sandstone located on the banks of the Yamuna river. The Agra fort was built by Emperer Akbar in 1565, although the fort had eventually been finished by Akbars grandson many years later, an interesting building that gave us our first insight into the second part of our tour and main attraction the 'Taj Mahal'
1630: Wow! Surely it wasn’t meant to be this beautiful, described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love, and you can easily see why.
The Taj Mahal was built by Emperer Shah Jahan as a memorial to his second wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1651. The Taj Mahal took some 22 years to complete and was worked on by over 20,000 people.
We had a good 2 hours at the Taj Mahal so that we could fully appreciate the experience and we could have stayed much longer.
1830: The final part of the day, took us to a local marble factory where we witnessed some local guys carving marble. This helped us fully understand the beauty of the Taj Mahal and how much work and craftsmanship must have gone in to its construction.
2000: The day was now nearing the end. A hotel meal and a quite beer and we were soon ready for some rest.
Thursday 16th March
We had arranged for our chauffer to collect us at 0930, so after our second English breakfast in 2 days! We were ready for the off.
0930: This morning we headed for Fatehpur Sikri, a fascinating ghost city. Fatehpur Sikri was once the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585 during the reign of Emperor Akbar.
The city was abandoned shortly after the death of Akbar, mainly due to the fact that the city had been plagued with water shortages.
1115: After the city tour we made our way to Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri's mosque that is still in use today. Every Friday some 20,000 Muslims attend prayers; within the mosque we also visited the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chrishti, where we donated some clothes and money for the local school children.
We’d had an interesting cultural experience today that gave us plenty to think about on our return trip to Delhi.
1800: We finally arrived back at the hotel in Delhi, where we prepared our bags for tomorrow's Mumbai flight.
1930: We then made our way back to the Crossroads bar for an evening meal and beverage.
Friday 17th March
0945: With breakfast down the hatch we are just about to board our airport bound taxi, ready for our flights to Mumbai.
1230: Luckily the flights were on time, and soon we were arriving in Mumbai for our first time. Our first impressions were an overpopulated city with filthy slums and beggars on every street corner.
1645: Our driver drops us off at the Sahil hotel in central Mumbai, the 16 mile taxi journey has just took us well over an hour and I cannot begin to imagine what the journey would be like at rush hour. We now take the opportunity to have a shower and eat at the hotel restaurant.
2000: We have just finished our beers at a local bar, and have just jumped in a taxi to Colaba ready for a night out. We headed home at around 2am, with a gut full of beer and sore feet from the dancing. It wasn't long before the snoring began… or so I'm told.
Saturday 18th March
0930: The ground was a bit of a culture shock for most England fans. It was filthy, very tatty with no western sanitation meaning that it was also very smelly.
There was however loads of familiar English faces which made it more bearable. Let’s hope for a good day’s cricket!
1000: Freddie has lost the toss, and we have been put into bat. Let's hope we can build a good first innings score.
1730: What a day we were treated too this was by far the best day of the series so far. We witnessed England finish the day at 272 for 3, with debutant Shah making a half century before retiring hurt and Strauss 128 before finally being caught at slip.
We made our way out of the hot humid conditions for a gentle walk along Chowpatty beach to watch the sunset. It's been a great day for England and it has certainly been a long time coming.
1930: After plenty of fresh air we stumbled upon a lovely restaurant next to the sea where we met fellow England supporter and TV presenter Dermot O’Leary who had also been attending the Mumbai cricket test.
2200: We finally made it back to the hotel, had a quick shower and straight to bed.
Sunday 19th March
1000: The weather is looking great and not a cloud in the sky. Play is starts on time but the hope of 500+ runs started fading fast when both Collingwood and Jones fell cheaply.
1200: Andrew Flintoff makes another test 50 but this time not without incident. He was dropped 3 times and should feel very lucky indeed to still be at the crease. Finally Freddie's luck runs out as he is caught right in front of us by Tendulker. (Bowled by Kumble) Shah returns to the crease and again is looking good the 500 score is not looking so good.
1500: The afternoon moves on, and we’re closing in on the 400 run mark. We’ve not made life easy for ourselves though.
Once again the tale have pretty much collapsed. The England score finished at 400 all out, full credit again given to Shah who was the only Englishman who built a decent score, finishing on 88.
1530: In the final session Matthew Hoggard managed to add wickets to his tally bringing him ever closer to 200 test wickets while Sachin Tendulkar was again bowled out cheaply by Anderson. The day closed with India 311 runs behind with 3 wickets down, yet again this was England day.
1730: We made our familiar journey back to the hotel, where again a cold shower was in order.
A long day sat in the sun once again resulted in an early night.
Monday 20th March
1000: Again we were in our seats ready for the start of play and when England took 2 quick wickets during the morning session things were certainly looking good.
1230: The Indians are starting to show some resistance and the tail are holding their own against the English bowling attack. Dhoni makes another 50 runs although he was lucky when Panesaer dropped a catch that he really should have held.
Kumble is now batting well and it’s all getting a bit frustrating.
1600: Eventually the Indians are all out finishing on 279.
1645: England take to the crease and not long into the second innings Strauss and then Bell get out… oh dear. Things once again seem to be taking a turn for the worst.
The Indian crowd is in excellent voice and its starting to get slightly annoying. Luckily the overnight watchman Udal manages to keep the Indian attack at bay. The day finishes on 33 for 2, giving us a 152 run lead going into day four.
1900: We headed into Colaba for a fantastic Chinese meal in a nice a/c restaurant, after the meal we browse the local market stands and street sellers giving us the chance to obtain some souvenirs from the trip.
2100: We head down the road slightly to the Leopold bar, where the English have taken over. The bar comes complete with some good old western music. We spent the remainder of the evening having a few chilled beers and a boogie on the dance floor.
Tuesday 21st March
0900: Feeling a lot better after a shower and breakfast we jump in the taxi and head off to the ground. We all feel positive about England’s chances and hopefully the game plan will come good.
1630: What a slow day’s play we have just witnessed. Although England as a team batted well and worked extremely hard for their 313 lead, Freddie was the main man with yet another test half century his fourth in a row! This just goes to show how well he has played during this series, especially with the added pressure of being the captain.
Collingwood 32 and Shah again also played their part, with England eventually being bowled out for 191.
In 21 Tests staged at this ground, nobody has ever chased down a total more than 163 so England must be feeling quietly confident with their 313 lead.
1730: Come on!!! … Ohhh Jimmy! Jimmy, Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Anderson!!…… A quick wicket at the end of the day as Anderson bowled Pathan for 6. This sends the English support home happy and in great voice. It’s so nice to shut up the Indian whistle’s that seem to be ringing in your head all-day long.
1900: Again we make our way over to Colaba for a meal, but this time only a quiet beer. Tomorrow is such an important day and we all want to be on top form.
Wednesday 22nd March
1030: What a start. Firstly Kumble out LBW to the bowling of Hoggard, then Jaffer out LBW to the bowling of Super Freddie. This was just the start we dreamed of last night. Now we have the 2 danger men at the crease, Dravid and Tendulkar, both with points to prove.
At lunch the Indians finished 75 for 3.
1500: Oh my god! All of our dreams have come true. The unthinkable had just happened and we have taken the 7 remaining wickets for 25 runs after lunch. This was quite possibly the best session of cricket in recent times. The celebrations are fantastic. The players have all come over to say thanks for the support and the Indian following begin to disperse before the presentations. Cheeerrrriooooo! Cheeerrriooooooo! Cheerio!, sing the England support, FANTASTIC!
1600: Off to the pub along with every English supporter in sight. We sing we dance and party until around 2200. The locals honestly don’t know what’s hit them. India does not lose Test matches in Mumbai, they are not used to losing….The fact that 5 or 6 first team England players were not in the team gives extra testament to the achievement….Do you think that Australia could lose the equivalent of Ponting, Warne, Gillespie, McGrath, Martyn and still get a result in India….I think not!
2230: Feeling half cut we make our way back to the hotel and onwards to the International airport where we find a certain Freddie Flintoff looking in a similar state to us. Freddie was about to board our British Airways flight home to see his new born baby boy. Understandable photo’s and autographs were a no no. I think after the Ashes hotel scenario he didn’t want any drunken photo’s being circulated in the press. As he boarded the flight we all gave the great man a round of applause which he seemed to enjoy.
Thursday 23rd March
India is a beautiful country despite being a little behind the western times. We saw the very best and the very worst of this spectacular place. Experiences taken from the last few weeks will live with us forever. And England getting an amazing result in Mumbai to draw the series was the icing on the cake.
Pleased to be home, but can't wait for the next visit to India!