Things that we know will happen in Nagpur
Events in the fourth and fifth one-day internationals have reminded us that India and Australia won't have things all their own way in these games. After a flawless display of dampness in Cuttack, the series is now level at Australia 2, Weather 2, India 1.
I expect a few people turned it off when they saw the rain, which is, I'm afraid, typical of the modern cricket watcher, who is obsessed with "entertainment" and "events", who lacks the mental fortitude to spend hours on end watching rain fall onto grass, and who fails to appreciate the subtle pleasures involved in observing puddles becoming pools, pools swelling to ponds and ponds evolving into reservoirs. As Ravi Shastri put it, this was an awesome display of precipitation that had the stands rocking and leaking.
Harsha Bhogle described it as the most impressive downpour he had seen in many a long year, indeed I believe he went so far as to call it the Sachin Tendulkar of deluges, although there was a rare note of tension in the box when Siva disagreed, saying it was roughly the tenth-best rainfall he'd seen in his career, behind the nine he had witnessed in Madras in the 1970s. "It's all about opinions, isn't it," said Harsha, through gritted teeth.
I could go on, but out of consideration for the dwindling gang of hardy, redoubtable readers who click on this blog on a semi-regular basis, I will refrain from any further meteorological exposition, except to say that highlights are available on Youtube.
So on to Nagpur. At the time of writing, this game hasn't happened yet, in fact, at the time of writing, Shane Watson is snoozing like a baby under his Dora The Explorer duvet, Suresh Raina is having a bad dream in which he is continually being urged to duck, but his legs won't bend, and Ravindra Jadeja is fixing MS Dhoni a midnight sandwich and making sure that the captain's sunglasses are correctly filed in order of flashiness.
The astute cricket watcher will point out that reporting on a game that hasn't happened yet is a lot harder than reporting on a game that has. Harder, but not impossible. The Long Handle frequently goes boldly where no cricket blog has gone boldly before, and if that means the occasional inter-dimensional journey through time, then so be it. Here, then, are four things that we know will happen in Nagpur, hot off the imaginary press:
1. Invited to talk about his tactics at the toss, MS Dhoni does one of the following:
a) confides to Ravi and to the crowd that with this bowling attack, tactics pretty much go out of the window, and to be honest, he doesn't fancy his team's chances of defending anything less than 400, or 450 if Ishant has a bad day.
b) tells Ravi to mind his own business.
c) says, "Tactics, schmatics, we're going to flippin' murder 'em!" and proceeds to roar like a tiger, before grabbing Ravi's microphone, chewing the end off, spitting it out at George Bailey's feet, and challenging the Australian captain to, "Make something of it, sunshine."
2. At a certain juncture, events take a turn that is not to Shane Watson's liking, at which point Shane Watson stands in the middle of the pitch with his hands on his hips, breathing heavily, giving us his famous impression of a wildebeest that has arrived home after a hard day's stomping and snorting to find that the zebras had been round for afternoon tea and trampled cake crumbs into his dining-room carpet.
3. One of the umpires develops elbow cramp after signalling his 84th consecutive boundary, but under new ICC playing regulations, is refused the help of a signaller and is forced to invent some new signals. Fours are indicated by blowing a raspberry, sixes by winking suggestively, no-balls by an exasperated roll of the eyes, and wides by a weary shake of the head followed by a slow face-palm.
4. With one ball to go and the game in the balance, the crowd is distracted by live footage of Sachin Tendulkar's 22nd-from-last training session, including the 22nd-from-last time in which he throws his dirty training socks into Tendulkar's Dirty Training Socks Hamper. While the whole of Nagpur stands to applaud, Ishant Sharma wins the game with a screaming, in-dipping, 100mph yorker that cartwheels all three stumps backwards and causes the batsman to fall over. No one notices.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here