I took up the game in the fifth over. New Zealand were 18 for no loss, John Wright and Martin Crowe at the crease. The volume was off, only the picture, so as not to disturb those who were not interested in cricket enough to watch it at 3.15 in the morning.
This is the trouble with having the TV in the bedroom. They tell you that having TV in the drawing-room is middle-class. So, being middle-class and not wanting to appear middle-class, you shift the TV into the bedroom, then have these problems of watching silent movies.
Still, the view from Dunedin was more than adequate, with the scores beign flashed after almost every ball. And I must say I have not seen better TV coverage of cricket in my life than what we are having from New Zealand, first the highlights, now the ball-by-ball, the game brought alive, on to your doorstep, through the drawing-room and into your bed-room…at 3.15 in the morning.
The end-of-the-season atmosphere was in the air. The serious business of Test cricket had ended, the more comfortable (though perhaps not for India) one-day internationals had begun. The cricket "flammels" (is there a cricketer who still wears them?) had given way to Kerry Packer styles, New Zealanders in grey and grey, Indians in blue and gold. Plus the bonus of each player's name written in large letters on his back. The New Zealanders' names fitting in nicely, the long Indian names suitably abbreviated - Azza. Only Vengsarkar did not have his name on the back, clearly establishing that he was an after-thought. An unwise after-thought, it appears now.
On the silent screen, two wickets had gone to successive balls of Atul Wassan. It was my first look at Wassan, who looks more like a hockey player than a cricketer. It was also my first real lok at New Zealand. It looks like a country that is at total peace with itself. In the stadium, there was orderly comfort, a well-laid-out refreshment stall, a man selling T-shirts, and the most polite little boys in the world. Occasionally, when the camera paused on one of them, he would wave his hand and say: "Hi, mom!"
Then, as New Zealand began forging ahead, sleep interrupted play.
At 6 a.m., the alarm reminded me of another working day and a cricket match that was continuing. They were showing the fall of wickets of the New Zealanders, interrupted by an announcement of the fall of wickets of the Congress in day before's elections.
By 7 a.m., after bath and shave and a look at the papers (Congress uprooted by an innings and more in most places, no matter what Mr. H.K.L. Bhagat may claim), I returned to TV, now, at last, with sound on. India were two down, but Azza and Raman were straking ahead, as if they were playing in a half-day match.
And an hour later, they were wix down for 84. And next, as the 9 o'clock siren went, it was 103 for eight. The wife asked, rightly for once: "Was it worth getting up so early!"