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Fleming is easily the best bowler (22nd October 1999, Kanpur)

The day began predictably late given the late nature of the preceding night. I woke up at 9.37 for a match that began at 10.00am. Still, several pillow whackings from Duane later I scrambled out of bed and crept out of bed to the bathroom. Quick shower freshen up later we agreed to head off the ground. I was supposed to leave earlier from the hotel and head for the stadium. As it happened I went down to the lobby of the hotel and waited for Duane to come down. Ten minutes later there was still no sign of the chap. I call the room - no response. Walk up and the door is locked. I give up and head for the ground looking for Duane all along the way. I reach the ground, hurry up to the media box and there he is! While I was waiting at the lobby Duane had left the hotel by a side exit and reached the ground a good 15 minutes before me. What can I say? Sometimes it's better to follow plans and let things go with the flow. Reached the round and Duane was already there and waiting. After some sheepish grins the match got under way and everything else was forgotten.

While we were watching the New Zealand batsmen lose their way against some rather uninspired Indian bowling on a wicket that was clearly underprepared, a cameraman from TWI sneaked into the press box and broadcasted our mugs to millions of viewers all around the world. While pressmen who had been through the routine before waved out and even managed the "Hi mom!" some of us rookies stared self consciously into never land. But it's always good to be on television. When I called back to the office to verify that all my copy was properly filed everyone asks about my television performance which they'd seen in great detail. Only later when I saw myself on TV back at the hotel room did I realise that commentators like Sanjay Manjrekar had to talk audiences through watching us! The illusory draw of fame looms large...

As the day progressed and the sun began to set the press box began to feel the wrath of the sun in its direct fury. With a high ceiling and no fans there was very little relief from the heat. The Kiwis were feeling the heat on the field and could not get their act together. A late recovery by Chris Cairns and Dion Nash saw the Kiwi innings reach some safety.

At the end of the day's play I filed my final report using the rather basic telecommunication facilities available at the Green Park stadium. Sending a simple fax takes an average of 30 minutes though the actual transmission time takes less than one and half minutes. Having filed my report I walked across the ground to try to catch some unsuspecting person and trap them into saying something with my microphone recording every word. Unfortunately the players were too busy practicing and there were no officials around who seemed like they might have a story tucked away somewhere. In the nets there was a certain Christopher Zinzan Harris hitting the ball all over the place. Perhaps that was made easy by the fact that he had a bunch of under 15 bowlers going at him. The kind of bowler and quality of ball was irrelevant. He carted the ball all around the park and would yell out 'duck!" just in case one of the ground staff Journalists were decapitated.

Having seen the pitch have a serious bearing on the nature of the game all day Duane and I went top have a closer look at the strip. Seeing it from one metre away was worse than watching what it could do to batsmen. Earlier in the day I heard it described as a 'cow dung' strip. I began to understand exactly what that meant. A grey flaky dusty powdery layer carpeted every ball that was tossed up by the spinners. Even to someone who hasn't seen enough pitches to know a fast one from a turner, it was immediately obvious that this pitch was underprepared.

Wait! There was someone I could speak to. There was a burly Kiwi waving a giant flag and getting all excited when his team was hardly staying afloat in this match. That's Sonny for you - the number one Kiwi fan on Indian soil. He has followed the All Blacks - New Zealand's rugby team all over the world in the last few years and was now making cricket another of his passions. By his own admission he was a 'crazy Kiwi fan", so I did a quick audio piece with him. After saying a few things about the chances of the New Zealand cricket team he went on to things that sounded really important to him - the fact that he couldn't find a single pub in all of Kanpur! In this city it's difficult to even find a bottle of beer that isn't adulterated forget about a pub.

Having finished all there was to do in the manner of work for the day we headed home. Erm, I've been away from Madras from so long that any hotel room to which I have the key is home. Quick shower and small bite later we headed off to look for an Internet browsing centre. As it turned out that was an even rarer commodity than a pub. After asking around and walking around for a considerable while we give up and head to the team hotel to spend some time bowling. The under arm game where you knock over 10 pins rather than the kind of thing Curtley Ambrose is famous for. Duane Pettet and Anand Vasu fight it out at one lane. Who's on the next lane? Oh no one particularly special, just Chris Harris and Nathan Astle. After five minutes it's obvious who the professionals are. Harris run of bad luck continues on the bowling alley and he manages to throw split after split. Nathan Astle seems to be in good touch and knocks them all down in one go with regularity. In the middle of all this the captain walks in and takes on the two boys. Fleming begins quietly but warms up to the task and ends up overtaking both Harris and Astle. When the game finally ended Fleming had won hands down. Out of habit as a journalist I had to remember the brief scores: Stephen Fleming 143, Nathan Astle 143 and Chris Harris 111.

We came back to the room and asked room service to bring us toasted cheese sandwiches. After detailed emphasis on what a toasted sandwich constituted we let the cookery department do its bit. We waited and waited and finally were given something that looked and tasted distinctly like a cheese sandwich - as opposed to a cheese toast. We wondered why till the waiter explained to us that there was absolutely no difference between the two as far as The Management was concerned. It was far too late to argue. I chomped the sandwiches down and began to talk again.

There was no stopping us. At a little past four in the morning I began to type this bit of the tour diary. As you might have guessed the day's action ends here and I'm running off to get some shut eye!