If it was a good turnout Saturday, it was almost a full-house on Sunday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal.
About 30,000 spectators were present to cheer the Indian batsmen on the second day, which was completely dominated by the hosts. Unmindful of the scorching sun, the fans cheered every hit to the boundary.
The splendid centuries by Murali Vijay and Cheteswar Pujara provided the entertainment for the holiday crowd, who enjoyed some hard hitting by the new heroes of Indian cricket.
Hyderabad has become the favourite hunting ground for Pujara, who hit his second successive century here. The 25-year-old had scored his first century against New Zealand six months ago, when he hit 159.
The Saurashtra batsman also had a special fan in the stadium. His wife Puja Pabari was seen clapping every time he hit a shot, enjoying his sumptuous innings of 162 not out. The two got married only last month.
Those who came to see Sachin Tendulkar in action, in what is believed to be his last appearance in Hyderabad, were not disappointed either as Vijay and Pujara continued entertaining them.
The officials of Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) hope the possibility of Tendulkar coming to bat on the third day may draw good crowds even Monday.
In the morning session, the crowd was quiet as Australian bowlers did not allow the batsmen to free their arms. Virender Sehwag's (6) fans were disappointed when he lost his wicket early, in the fifth over of the day.
However, post-lunch Vijay and Pujara opened up to hit fine shots to the delight of the capacity crowd in the stadium, which remained a virtual fortress in the wake of the February 21 bomb blasts in the city.
Awash in the morning sunshine, the stadium provided a perfect setting for the day's play. Showing their sportsmanship, the fans also applauded the Aussie fielders for their dives to save the boundaries.
The HCA officials were obviously delighted at the massive turnout despite the tight security measures, which include fans being barred from carrying their mobile phones into the stadium. However, fans who came in the hope of buying tickets at the stadium had to return disappointed as HCA made no such arrangements. The fans, even those who booked tickets online, were told to collect the same from Gymkhana, about nine km away.
Hyderabad's own VVS Laxman too enthralled the home crowd, in his new avatar as a TV commentator. Whenever he walked out on to the middle along with the crew, there were loud cheers from his fans. Laxman, who retired from international cricket in August 2012, responded by waving at them.
While Indian fans enjoyed the day, it was surely a disappointment for the Australian fans, some of whom have flown in from Australia to support the team. The below par performance of Aussie batsmen on the first day and an equally disappointing show by their bowlers Sunday left their fans dejected.
First Published: March 3, 2013, 6:54 pm