This game can make everyone run

The game at the Olympic Park ends long into the night — it's another defeat for the Indians — and then the scribes race against time to catch the last train to Sydney Central at 1.19 a.m.… S. Dinakar gives us an insight to his life Down Under.

Sydney has a heartbeat and a soul. It's a melting point of several cultures and never sleeps. While the bright lights dazzle, the city still has an old world charm about it, reflected in the majestic, timeless buildings that have seen centuries pass by.

Not surprisingly, Sydney is seldom short of tourists; for them the city is a treasure trove of discoveries. The cricket caravan travels here for the first game for one of the two T20 matches. The locals are passionate about cricket and the current Australian Test and ODI captain Michael Clarke is a product of Sydney and New South Wales cricket setup.

Sydney also boasts of a substantial sub-continental population which means there is no dearth of Indian restaurants. But then people of Indian origin have been saddened by the capitulation of the Test team. “There has been just no fight man,” mulls one of them at a bistro.

The Australians have rolled over India 4-0 in the Test series and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is under stress. He cleverly takes the pressure off himself by declaring he does not want to cling on to captaincy. “If there is a better man, he can take over,” he says.

It is a master-stroke — all those baying for his blood as the India skipper had been silenced for the moment at least. The truth is, presently, there is no other viable candidate in sight.

The first T20 game is scheduled at the faraway Olympic Park and the not iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) which lies in the heart of the city. A sharp burst of rain, however, leaves the ground at the Olympic Park wet and the Indians are not happy when they arrive for practice. Eventually, a compromise is reached and the Indians train at the SCG along with the Australians.

It's a venue that celebrates Australia's rich cricketing history. The Sir Don Bradman enclosure encapsulates the game's spirit.

Meanwhile, the omission of wicket-keeper batsman Brad Haddin has stirred a debate Down Under. Haddin's form with the willow has dipped while his work behind the stumps has been ordinary. Matthew Wade, a punishing left-handed stroke-maker and a competent wicketkeeper, is Haddins' replacement for the Twenty20 internationals against India and Australia's first three ODIs in the Commonwealth Bank triangular series.

Things take an amusing turn when the selectors declare Haddin has been “rested” while the cricketer insists he has been “dropped.” The newspapers here have a field day!

The first game at Olympic Park attracts a huge audience of nearly 60,000 which is a new record for any T20 match in New South Wales. With the success of Big Bash, T20 cricket, with its burgeoning popularity, is spreading its wings in Australia.

In the middle, a belligerent Wade wades into the Indian attack. The left-hander makes the right moves as the ball is powered through the gaps or bludgeoned over the ropes. Haddins' future hangs in balance.

And David Warner makes the headlines too with an incredible switch hit. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin pitches one outside the left-handed Warner's leg-stump. Incredibly, the batsman changes his stance to that of a right-hander as the ball is released and clobbers it over extra-cover (for a left-hander) for a six. The Indians are stunned even as the crowd roars.

Warner's inventiveness opens up a debate. How right is it for a batsman to change his stance at the moment of delivery when a bowler needs to inform the umpire beforehand whether he wants to operate over or round the wicket? And if a batsman opts for a switch hit — which involves changing one's stance and grip — why can't he be given leg-before to a delivery pitching outside his leg-stump?

The game ends long into the night — it's another defeat for the Indians — and then the scribes race against time to catch the last train to Sydney Central at 1.19 a.m. Cricket....it can make everyone run!