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A day for personalities - Jeff Crowe, Ranjan Madugalle, Clayton Tendulkar, Clayton Azharuddin, Clayton Lele and...(2nd November 1999, Ahmedabad)

On the fifth and final day of the Test match, my health finally gave way and I told Duane to get to the ground himself and that if I felt better I might join him later in the day.

Unfortunately, if I had to write a report at the end of the day I still had to watch the whole day's play. So I turned on the television and lay in bed at my hotel room watching the cricket.

At around lunch time I realised that I wasn't really getting any rest and made my way to the stadium armed with the notes I had taken in the morning session. After an hour of sitting in the sun in the bustle of the press box I realised that there was no way I could churn out even a half way acceptable report. After many false starts I gave up and kept watching the game anyway.

The last day of the Test was the day the Kiwi batsmen decided to find some form. All of the batsmen made runs and the match petered out into a tame draw.

At the end of the day's play it was time for me to do a scheduled interview with the coach of the Kiwi team. Jeff Crowe is a straight talking genuinely good guy and when he gave me a time and a place to do an interview, I wanted to be there. When I came down to do the interview, the match referee for the game Ranjan Madugalle was there as well and he immediately came up to me " What's the matter Vasu your face is all puffed up. Are you unwell? Forget all this interview and all, first go see a doctor." I explained to him that I was all prepared and ready to speak to Jeff Crowe and he just shrugged his shoulders, made a remark about us "young fellows" and left me to my own devices. You expect match referees to be these solemn, strict sour individuals. And there are a fair share of match referees that keep up such an appearance, but Ranjan certainly wasn't one of them. So I finished the Crowe interview. He was very happy with it and we headed back to our room.

At around 10.30, one of my fellow journalists, who was clearly more resourceful than I had managed to procure a bottle of whiskey and invited us over for a drink. Refusing an offer of a drink in a prohibition state was just beyond me, and we trotted over to his hotel which was just a five minute walk away from ours. At the hotel was a merry gathering as it was. Manoj Vatsyayana of the Hindustan Times, Mario Rodrigues of the Statesman, Clayton Murzello of Midday and Gautam Sathe of UNI were already assembled and the party was well under way. More talk later and I foolishly got into the indefensible position of saying that at least a few members of the Indian team were indulging in match fixing.

Obviously I wasn't going to be able to prove anything I was saying with anything more concrete than circumstantial evidence. After an hour of arguing back and forth we called it a truce and moved to more pleasant topics. Clayton broke the deadlock of doing the most perfect impersonations of cricketing personalities ranging from Tendulkar to Azharuddin to Lele. The rest of the pressmen acted as if it were a press conference and quizzed the various characters Clayton was playing. The interview broke up when everyone was rolling on the floor in laughter and could not ask any more questions.

Once again we made our way back to our rooms having a lived a full day. Enough to write books about.