The Indians visit Australia


By Lokesh Varma

The wait is finally over. India’s first XI cricket team is finally here. As I sit at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) watching the first test match, the road to the last frontier is now occupied. The men in blue have embarked on their journey to finally win a Test series down under.

A series win down under is still what makes legends and fans salivate. In these times of non-stop international fixtures and IPL commitments, I am unsure as to what constitutes do-or-die cricket, but this series must surely rank as different. Both teams are evenly matched, both are coming off lacklustre series. The Aussies crashed against lowly New Zealand and had an average tour of South Africa while the Indians got it from the Pommies.


It’s Day 1 and so far, the legion of Indian fans have not been disappointed. A mentally strong India is holding out against the cauldron that is the MCG. India’s experience combined with Sachin and Dravid’s batting is negating a weak bowling attack, home crowd advantage and a gruelling tour schedule.

Being amongst the fans where hundreds of tricolours are unfurled and waved is emotionally satisfying. Just about every Indian left in Melbourne is at the G. Resplendent in their blue cricket shirt, the now internationally recognised Swami Army is in force and giving the 60,000 Aussie fans a good run.

As the dhols are struck (few years ago the drums were banned from Australian grounds due to the disturbance they cause), low-strength beers transported from stadium bars (sometimes by women paid to deliver them to unmoving fans) and creative calls (“you flat track bullies”), we know the Indian summer is underway!

There were also the serious followers of Test cricket – easily spotted by their behaviour and their seating choices. Their purpose in being a spectator is not to soak the atmosphere, but rather to enjoy the pressure and courage required to play Test cricket. To that end, a radio and binoculars are employed to follow each ball and each resulting stroke while keeping on top of the fielding captain’s strategy!

The Australian-Indian tend to be in the noisy category of fans. They also tend to have differing loyalties. If its Australia v India, they support the Mother land, but anything else they go for their adopted land. Such behaviour is best explained by the usually victorious Australian sides of past decades. Those aggressive wins even against India’s best sporting export causing the Australian-Indian to take their loyalties elsewhere. But if its any other team or sport, it’s “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi”.

The dink-di Aussie thankfully suffers from no such issues. Despite having competing interests and commitment to all kinds of summer sports, they follow the game with great interest and natural abandon. There are fewer work commitments – Corporate Australia slows over Christmas and starts to stir in January, plenty of sunlight, plenty of good food and beer and many points of view to share. After all, there are only two important jobs in Australia. One belongs to the Prime Minister and the other to the Cricket captain, and nobody really wants to talk politics.

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