The Adelaide Effect
If Sydney and Melbourne are the typical big cities, Adelaide offers an urban space with a rural heart. The ICC Twenty20 World Cup media caravan — specifically the Indian contingent — rolls into this quaint metropolis on a Monday (November 7). It isn’t an easy journey as the previous night determined the last four slots and the semifinal lottery linked to Rohit Sharma’s men hovered between Sydney and Adelaide.
A punt was made, flight tickets were booked to Adelaide and a largely cynical bunch — hacks are usually that — suddenly beseeched the cricketing gods to show mercy. A few refused to take chances and were prepared to fly to Sydney, attend the first semifinal, then move to Adelaide for the second semifinal. It was both an exercise in insomnia and living in airports with perhaps the Tom Hanks starrer The Terminal being an inspiration.
As for those who gambled on Adelaide, it was time to take in the lovely streets, tree-lined avenues, old cottages and a weather fluctuating between the warm sun and a cold breeze. India does qualify for the Adelaide clash and the reporters, besides their odd trips to the Oval, unwind a bit. As the days race towards Thursday’s encounter against England, it is also time to absorb some dry Aussie humour. A shopping bag has this note: “This bag may also ripen your fruit faster.” And tea bags come with notes like “For the next five minutes I’ll be with someone stronger” or “An extra strong tea? Better give me an extra minute.”
The laughter died
Thursday evening (November 10) arrives with expectation. At the Adelaide Oval, a few England fans walk on stilts or juggle bats. The Indians, meanwhile, wave the national flag, break into impromptu patriotic chants and from the crowd, a lady holds up a placard mimicking the London-bound boarding pass for Jos Buttler’s men. Later in the night, that optimism gets shredded and it is the Men in Blue who have to recalibrate their flights.
England ambushes India, a 10-wicket victory being the final nail and Rohit and his men look distraught. The fans at the venue lapsed into silence while those in the cyber-world began to spew venom. Sport isn’t instant noodles to be seasoned the way you want. It is a theatre of surprises but most don’t get it.
England all the way
Sunday (November 13) dawns with a spot of sun before the clouds roll in. Pakistan and England are set to play the final and Melbourne’s weather is throwing up sub-texts which none want. Thankfully, the clouds exercise self-restraint till the match concludes and later in the night, the rains slant across roofs and form puddles on the roads. By then, England was home safe with a trophy in its pocket. Pakistan battled hard but it was England’s — and more precisely Ben Stokes’ — day. And in the stands, a Pakistani fan held a placard: “India, we missed you.”