Australia v India, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day

Must be the masala

"Come on, Bicks, get `im this over," was the yell from the stands

Dileep Premachandran at the Gabba

December 7, 2003

Text size: A | A



So much for chin music
Getty Images

"Come on, Bicks, get `im this over," was the yell from the stands. Andy Bichel turned at his mark, sprinted in, and was promptly creamed through the off side by Sourav Ganguly. "So much for chin music," shouted a tricolour-waving Indian fan with a big grin, referring to Australia's extensively documented plan to target Ganguly with short-pitched deliveries.

By then, the decent-sized Indian contingent at the Gabba were in good cheer, having recovered from the gloom induced by Steve Bucknor's momentary lapse of reason. Much of the talk in the stands centred around Bucknor, and his various gaffes in this game. One wag had seated his son on his lap, and was telling him, "If you appeal today, son, Mr Bucknor might give the batter out tomorrow," much to the amusement of Indian fans seated nearby.

As VVS Laxman set about Stuart MacGill, Simon Katich and Bichel, Naunihal Singh - who runs the Taj Mahal restaurant on Brunswick Street with his wife - watched with an air of satisfaction. Laxman, along with several other members of the Indian team, had eaten there last night and he lapped it up when one of the boys shouted, "Must be your masala, mate. Good stuff."

Haven sampled their hospitality myself last night, I could understand why the team were frequent visitors - Anil Kumble having made no less than four trips in a week. And Mr Singh was most anxious to assure me that none of the boys had been pigging out on butter chicken. "No alcohol, no rich sauces. Only vegetable curries, and glasses of lassi." If it helps him to time the ball as sweetly as he did today, Laxman would do well to stick to Taj Mahal saag and roti all tour.

Just behind where I'd borrowed a seat - just to the right of the players' viewing area - was the most vociferous section of the Australian support. Shaven-headed Luke never let up in his words of encouragement for Bichel, not even when the scoreboard showed that he'd gone for 93 in 16 overs. "They'd be throwing chappals [slippers] at him if he was an Indian bowler playing in India," said the guy sat next to me.

But instead of chappals and abuse, the local hero got unstinting support. "Come on, Andy," squealed a tot in Irish green, his tiny voice epitomising the forlorn nature of Australia's afternoon.

Mark, also known as Buffy, had waved his Boxing Kangaroo flag with considerable animation earlier in the day. But approaching tea, with Ganguly sauntering to a hundred and VVS elegantly easing past 50, the standard started to droop. Two superb shots off Nathan Bracken took Ganguly to touching distance of three figures, prompting the Indian kid in front of me to wave his flag so violently that he almost took his neighbour's eye out.

A paddle sweep for two later, Little India erupted. To be fair though, even the Aussie fans were on their feet to applaud a truly special innings from a captain under siege. And the fact that he raced to the mark in 135 balls, as opposed to making stodgy hesitant progress, made it all the sweeter for those watching. Ganguly had borrowed Australia's own blueprint, made his modifications, added a touch of languid grace and emerged a winner.

"What d'you think?" I asked Mark as everyone rushed to get their cups of tea. "Not bad at all, mate, not bad at all" was the reply. "Bloody good innings." Considering his popularity, or lack of it, in these parts, you'd forgive Ganguly for thinking that squeezing blood from stones isn't that hard after all. All it takes is an innings of grace, hauteur and the slice of luck that everyone needs.

Dileep Premachandran is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India. He will be following India throughout the course of this Test series.

RSS Feeds: Dileep Premachandran

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Dileep PremachandranClose
Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
Related Links
News : Bulletin
News : Match home
Players/Officials: Sourav Ganguly | VVS Laxman
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia

    Test cricket needs fewer teams, not more

Ian Chappell: It's clear that for the ICC votes mean more than results

    Lara's peaks

Tony Cozier: While the 375 had a sense of inevitability to it, the 400 came amid a backdrop of strikes and the threat of a whitewash

    The world record that nearly wasn't

Rewind: Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it

    An archaelogical probe into the state of the game

Review: Gideon Haigh comes out with another set of essays that sound uncannily prescient about the way the game is headed

From hockey sticks to whalebone

Nicholas Hogg: Bat-making as a craft has undergone revolutionary changes and then some since the days of Hambledon

News | Features Last 7 days

UAE all set to host lavish welcoming party

The controversy surrounding the IPL has done little to deter fans in UAE from flocking the stadiums, as they gear up to watch the Indian stars in action for the first time since 2006

Attention on Yuvraj, Gambhir in IPL 2014

ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance

The watch breaker, and Malinga specials

The Plays of the day from the match between Kolkata and Mumbai, in Abu Dhabi

India: cricket's Brazil

It's difficult to beat a huge talent base exposed to good facilities, and possessed of a long history of competing as a nation

The captain's blunder

The Plays of the day from the match between Chennai and Punjab in Abu Dhabi

News | Features Last 7 days