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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aussie ki Tehsi: Day 1

Predictable as we were, we could not make it in time for the train journey and were in serious risk of missing the first ball of the Boxing Day test match. We ended up driving to the stadium, were hit by the bad news of Ricky Ponting winning the toss yet again and electing to bat (whatever happened to the principles of greater good). Having reached the stadium, we wasted some more time talking to a group of boisterous Aussie blokes making their breakfast on the grill right outside. We exchanged some witty comments about India’s chances of winning. In the end, thankfully, we made it in time for the first ball.

And what an atmosphere it was. All my adjectives have already been used up by commentators and in a bid for being authentic, I would just have to say that you have to be there to believe it. Among chants for Aussie,Aussie,Aussie: Oi, Oi, Oi, there were enough Swamy Armies out there to match the decibel levels. Folks were drinking beer as soon as 10:30 in the morning when the very first of India were just waking up to hot cups of tea. We were sitting at the top of the stadium and the view was breath-taking. Ganji, our unofficial photographer (the official photographer – Lal proved to be upto no good) took some really cool pics; check one on the left.

Zahir Khan and Ruddar bowled really well in the first hour; the scoreline at 48/0 in 12 overs, however, didn’t do any justice to that. By 11:30, we were all pretty dismal and we decided to shake up the cosmos by doing something different in a bid to help Indian cause. For perspective, whenever myself/Lal have watched a game together, India has lost in the most depressing manner possible. So, we decided to get out of the stadium and check out the Great Ocean Drive (Couple of hours away). As we were walking, we saw the very first wicket fall and as a gesture of immense sacrifice for Team India, we kept walking. Why change something that seems to be working.

During the drive, we listened to a combination of local commentary (The best I have heard, delivered in a Seinfeld manner) and Ponna’s choicest swearing directed to whoever attempted to thwart our way. Karthik Bangalore slept for the most part while we listened to the fall of wickets, one after the other. A part of our heart was missing the live action at the stadium while the other was happy with the way we had unshackled India from the mysterious way the Cosmos operated. In the end, our team broke down and myself/Lal were blamed for the inept decision of leaving the stadium. We took it like men who had done the right thing for the greater good.

The great ocean drive wasn’t bad. Ganji got some pretty decent shots. I am publishing the left over pics, the best ones are available at his blog. See some on the left(Full of vanity as you will notice):

Towards the end of the drive, Ponna miraculously remembered that the BMW had an in-built TV and after a brief period of Ponna-bashing, we stopped the car and turned on the TV. Australia were 8-wickets down by then. We watched Mitchell Johnson clearly caught by yuvraj Singh off Anil Kumble which was not given out; thereby justifying our decision not to watch the match. We turned the TV off and drove off and were instantaneously rewarded with the fall of ninth wicket. Lal was so moved that he went to the extent of suggesting that we don’t watch the match the next day as well so as not to disturb the favorable forces, but after a thorough discussion about the pros/cons lasting a tick or two, we decided against it. Towards the evening, We were told off by Uncle Ponna for deserting Indian team. He said that inspite of being a Srilankan, he was a bigger fan, having watched every ball of the match.

About cricket, the day was great for India but 350+ (which is what they may eventually score) keeps the match pretty much evenly balanced. What has worked for India is Kumble and possibly increasing pace of the wicket as time passes by. What has not worked for India is bad fielding and Australian tail-enders. Looking at the profile of who has scored today, they have all made gritty runs (Matthew Hayden scored just nine boundaries in his century). The ones who have failed are the ones who are otherwise class-act to watch but have failed today while playing flashy shots against a reasonably disciplined bowling. It seems to me that the gritty ones (Dravid/ Ganguly and possible Dhoni) will survive and they will have to dig even deeper because Australian bowling attack promises to be much more disciplined than ours.

With the Australian inning almost wrapped up within the day, a result is in the offing. I just hope that our team realizes it and plays to win.

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