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There's still two days to go for the action to kick off in Arizona but Australia's version of the Superbowl was one mad evening
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan at the MCG
February 1, 2008
There's still two days to go for the action to kick off in Arizona but Australia's version of the Superbowl was one mad evening. There was noise, fireworks, boos, cheers, flags, and Mexican waves in a gigantic arena where Andy G and Hank led a rout. Batsmen constantly hesitated with the quick single and fielders collided. No-one could hear much out there. The G went bananas; Oh G.
There was a buzz around the ground from 4pm in the evening. England were playing Australia and the ground was filling up [the women were playing and the crowd were coming in for the men]. Simon Taufel's might have never walked out to a Mexican wave before and Gilchrist, while batting, said, "If anyone is making their debut out here, it's going to be quite a boring career ahead".
This was a mighty din. Rogue Traders blared out their funky pop mixes in the half-time. There were rumours doing the rounds about the Indian team being welcomed with 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' but the batting performance that followed suggested that a chartered flight was somewhere in sight. There's no limit to the regions for scoring in Twenty20 but India's three fours were all behind the wicket. Dinesh Karthik's top-edged pull appeared like a lucky escape but when Rohit Sharma followed it was clear that this was a clear plan. Get them in edges.
Michael 'Pup' Clarke got things going with a sensational direct hit before Brett Lee tore into the tension like some cricketing Chuck Yeager. So quick was the ball that crashed into Karthik's stumps, it must have broken the sound barrier. So adrenalin-fuelled was the atmosphere that Nathan Bracken - nicknamed Andy G because of his resemblance to the Australian Idol television host - realised slower balls would work best. India's batsmen were half-way through their shots before the ball came out.
Adam Voges, Australia's latest left-arm spinner, will remember this night. Not only did he pick up two wickets in as many balls but was probably the first bowler to have eight fielders around the batsman in a Twenty20. The chase was a formality, especially when Gilchrist walked out with the squash ball and Clarke with his bat. Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan couldn't hear each other when Clarke skied one and the show was over with the light barely on.
Harbhajan was trying his best to smile but it must hurt when you're booed for every move. Gilchirst, for his part, was enjoying cult status. "Now I know what it feels to be Sachin Tendulkar in India."
Sreesanth started with an appeal but was soon looking over his head, when Clarke waited for a slower ball and howitzered it over long-off. By the end of the game he wasn't surprised or elated. "Just speechless". Australia unveiled yet another Hussey, though he wasn't required to bat. He took a wicket and pouched a catch but the best news was he had an alternative nickname, Bomber. Little Mr Cricket appears more suited to a nursery rhyme.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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