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Kiwis fall and journalists flee (25th October 1999, Kanpur)

On the fourth day of the Kanpur Test illness claimed one serious casualty. Coupled with the fact that he could not score the match from the stadium, Duane could not muster up enough energy to come to the stadium for the first half of the day's play. The fact that New Zealand was staring defeat in the face would probably also have added to his inertia!

I reached the ground in time for the start and found my place already taken. When I politely asked the chap sitting at my place to move over he asked "Can you prove that this is your place?" I was already weak with over three days of flu. Still running a temperature I had no desire to be polite or anything of the kind. The fact that the desk had a sticker that bore the name CricInfo on it in large bold capital letters made the question even more ridiculous. In response I pointed out to the sticker and said "Can you read?" That seemed to satisfy the chap as he got up, went away and didn't return!

The stands were packed on the fourth day and though the New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming batted well the Indian spinners kept chipping away at the Kiwis. The wickets fell at regular intervals and though Parore and McMillan batted with spirit, the Indian spinners won the game easily.

With the Test match over a day early, most journalists had fled from Kanpur. That should give you some idea about how exciting Kanpur is. Even at the risk of reaching the railway station without reservations, 30 odd journalists left as soon as they could.

Meeting up at the unofficial press club of Kanpur - the one browsing centre there is, we headed off to join Rahul Bannerji (the Statesman) and Devnath (Prajavani - a Kannada newspaper) at their hotel room. Devnath is retiring from sports journalism in a few months at the age of 58 and had enough stories about the various exploits of former Indian 'playboy' cricketers like ML Jaisimha and Salim Durrani. As the whiskeys went down Rahul began to talk about cricket in the most mellow and fuzzy terms. His analogy comparing the art of spin bowling to seduction took the cake. Approaching 2 o'clock in the morning we once again climbed aboard a cycle rickshaw - our very own royal conveyance and headed back to our room.