7.30pm: All over. Pakistan returned to the crease after a rain break needing a further 136 runs from five overs, an overall target of 302 from 40 overs. Naturally they did not even get close. India sealed the deal by 89 runs (Duckworth/Lewis Method) to make it seven wins from as many games against Pakistan in World Cups. The win also ensured their unbeaten streak at the 2019 World Cup stayed intact.
At 3pm on a day of spitting rain, the India-New Zealand match at Nottingham was called off without a ball being bowled. Neither team was massively affected as they came into the game without having lost a match. And yet there was plenty of frustration all around.
Speaking soon after the game was called off, R Sridhar, the fielding coach, gave India’s perspective. “Yeah, it is frustrating to wait in the dressing room on a rainy day. It’s a challenge for the players and the support staff to switch down but not really switch off, because the match could start at any time, so keep yourself prepared in the back of the mind,” said Sridhar. “At the same time, not think too much about the game and keep yourself a little busy, reading, some music, or chatting with friends. But we deal with it all the time.”
India were indoors in Friday, rain ruining their morning practice session at The Oval and Australia were just making their way to the capital after getting past West Indies at Trent Bridge. All was quiet on the western front, but you can be sure both teams were already thinking about each other, given how big their encounter is likely to be.
On a weekend, in London, India v Australia. The Oval will be a sea of blue once more, but unlike in Southampton, where there was negligible support for South Africa in the stands, Australia will not be completely blanked out.
“You’re at the wrong ground mate.”
These were the words welcoming an Englishman who walked to his seat in the stands at the Vauxhall end of the Oval Cricket Ground. A group of raucous Indians were trying to put this outsider in his place. “At least you should be wearing an India shirt, because we’re playing against Australia, your enemy.”
The irony that the forefathers of this very English gent, sporting his team’s colours, established this ground back in 1845, and that the first Test in the country was played here in 1880 was clearly lost on the men wearing India’s blue.
The beast that has been lurking around the shires of the United Kingdom awoke and let out a spine-chlling, blood curdling roar in London on Sunday. At the Oval, Australia’s bowlers faced the wrath of the Indian batting line up, one of the scariest of its kind assembled, and try as they might, the “away” team could not overcome either the men in blue or the sea of the same hue in the stands.
When Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat first, it was a bold decision. Certainly it appeared to be the right one, but even that needed the batsmen to dig deep, apply themselves and do the job to justify the faith the captain had in his band of batting brothers.
Rohit Sharma, India’s vice-captain, oozed calm and composure when he spoke to the media ahead of India’s match against Australia. Fielding questions that ranged from Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gloves to who the best batsman in the world was and much between, Rohit played with a straight bat, just as he had against South Africa in India’s tournament opener.
Q. Rohit, firstly, congrats on the hundred. And your record against Australia is very good, but on this ground India has not done very well of late. How do you think of today’s match?
There was brief panic during Australia’s net session at the Oval when a net bowler could not get out of the way of a fierce hit from David Warner. The bowler, a medium pacer, was in his followthrough when the shot hit him on the head. He was immediately attended to by medical staff and was conscious, smiling and said his name.
The bowler, of Indian origin, said his name was Jai Kishan, and was taken to hospital as a precaution. He was expected to remain under observation for 24 hours.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
The chants in the stands at Southampton from a sizeable Indian crowd began mutedly, but built up a steady head of steam and exploded in raucous crescendos. They pretty much mirrored the bowling action of Jasprit Bumrah — the man being celebrated — to perfection.
When Bumrah is at the top of his mark he appears to be ready to do anything but bowl fast. His first few steps are baby shuffles, his build up more of a person running to catch a train than an athlete aiming for peak speed but when reaches the bowling crease there is an explosive release of energy.
The beer had not travelled too well from Indore, described as flat and tasteless by one group of discerning patrons who had travelled some way to watch the match. The samosas, crispy on the outside and flavourful on the inside, flew off the shelves at the concession stalls in the stands.
The approach to the ground experienced traffic disruptions because a politician was travelling to a nearby town. In the stands, in a box of their own were at least 13 members of a leading business family that also owns an Indian Premier League team.
It can be confirmed that rumours of the 2019 Cricket World Cup having begun on May 30 are, in fact, true. But for cricket fans from the most populous participating nation, the tournament begins today, when India play their first match.
Considering that India seem to have been in England for an eternity — they’ve had enough time to go paint balling in the woods and take selfies with Harry Kane — but have not yet been called up to play a match. As has been widely reported, this was to allow the team a sufficient gap, and rest, after the completion of the IPL, but it also gives them a significant advantage.