India ready for Aussie fireworks
On the hallowed turf of the Brabourne stadium, where patrons enjoy cricket over hallowed sandwiches and hallowed cakes, India and Australia will play a one-off Twenty20 match on Saturday.
The date is October 20. The format is Twenty20. So here are, well, 20 things you might want to know regarding the match.
Australia are a strong team, but India are the world champions and riding a T20 wave. They will be tough to beat.
India's Robin Uthappa addressed the pre-match briefing on Friday. He said, "The One-dayers (in which India lost 4-2) will have no bearing on this game. In Twenty20, the idea is to play well but also to enjoy yourself. It's a picnic like thing. But we are ready. The atmosphere in the dressing room is great."
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said, "It's an enjoyable format. We were pretty disappointed about losing the last ODI from a winning position. We lost to the Indians in the T20 World Championship. But there's nothing about trying to get even." Yeah right, Ricky.
On Friday, Australia had nets in the morning, India in the evening. There were several big hits.
MS Dhoni had a knee problem and stayed in the dressing room before coming out to practice. Once out on the field, he was his aggressive self. Uthappa said the captain will play.
Curator Prakash Adhav feels the team batting first would be better off. Dew after sunset will aid bowlers, making things harder. He reckons 170-plus would be a winning score.
Despite the walloping in ODIs, India will be confident. T20 is their thing now. Besides, they defeated Australia in the World T20 semifinal. The crowd will play a role too. Always excited, they will be even more charged up after the Andrew Symonds controversy.
But it won't be easy to make mischief. The Mumbai police has put in place a three-layered surveillance system. Some 100 officers with handycams will videotape spectators. That's not all. There will be police personnel, proficient in martial arts, keeping watch in plain clothes. Shaolin soccer, make way for Shaolin cricket.
The fans, however, will disappoint Uthappa if they heckle Symonds. "Don't be kind towards them, but don't be racist," he said. Nonetheless, the young star had a high opinion of Indian spectators. Asked how he rated them compared to other places, he said, "Eight and a half on ten."
Officially, tickets ranged from Rs 500-Rs 25,000. Agents sold some at double or triple the rate.
Another thing in India's favour, other than the confidence from the World Twenty20, is the momentum from the win on Wednesday.
Thinking of twenty things to say in connection with the match is getting a bit difficult. So how about some useless trivia? Like, the photosphere (visible surface) of the sun has an average diameter of 863,704 miles (1.39 million kilometres), equal to a little over 109 earths placed side by side.
India will field the squad that played the World T20. That means Yusuf Pathan, Joginder Sharma, Ajit Agarkar and Virender Sehwag return. However, Murali Kartik has come in for Piyush Chawla, still nursing an injured ankle.
Send Sehwag a card. He and his wife became parents, to a son, on Thursday. He has also recovered from the injury that kept him out of the World T20 final.
Loaded moment to Robin Uthappa. Asked how they would manage without Sachin, Dravid & Ganguly, he said: We won the World Cup without them. Kaisa sawaal puchhte ho (what kind of a question is that)?
There was no false modesty from Uthappa about his batting. He admitted he was batting well (167 runs at 33.40 apiece, strike rate 115.97, in this series). He was confident, he said, of batting as per the needs of the team.
Good news for Australia is Matt Hayden is expected to be back.
Indian bowlers would be worried about containing the Australian batsmen. That said, it bodes well that they conceded only three no-balls the seven times they bowled in the ODIs.
Dhoni had a knee problem… oh, did we already say that?