Guest Blogger Adarsh Shah was lucky enough to be at The Oval – Twitter @shah_adarsh

From the moment I got on the tube to get to the ground, a sense of excitement was building within me.  It proves that cricket brings people together when the whole journey was spent amongst complete strangers discussing the upcoming game.  I was swept up at Vauxhall station amongst the hordes of India supporters with the chants, body paints and a game “spot the Aussie”!  On the tube ride and walk to the ground I spotted 5 Australian Fans otherwise it was Indian fans all the way.

If England is the creator of cricket , Australia is the winning machine of world cricket and undoubtedly India is where cricket is not just a mere game but a religion!    It may lack the history of the Ashes (England v Australia) or the sheer raw passion of India V Pakistan, but there is no doubt that India V Australia games have contributed amazing memories and highlights in the world of cricket. Hence, creating this modern rivalry…

A couple of spicy World Cup games come to my mind 

  • 2003 World Cup final:  Many hearts broken by the Aussies as India had pretty much the whole of the cricketing world behind them for a win but alas, Australia retained the world title, winning by 125-runs. 
  • Quarter final 2011World Cup:  India had Lady Luck and destiny on their side as expectations grew tremendously after they beat the Aussies (who were on a 34 game winning streaks in the World Cup!!!) with a stabilising and inspiring innings from Yuvraj Singh.  The rest as they say is history as India went on to win the 2011 World Cup!

We took our seats within the Micky Stewart Pavilion Terrace and were glad to see the weather was behaving with gloriously blue skies with white clouds adding an extra layer of ambiance to this highly anticipated clash.

My standout highlights as a fan from within the ground:

The India Innings:

  • The dropped Catch:  Rohit Sharma was dropped on 2 by Coulter-Nile. The ball was in the air for what seemed like eternity, and the dive right from Coulter-Nile was spectacular. If only he would have held on rather than let the ball slip out of his fingers… 
  • The openers Rohit and Dhawan looked in good nick. They rode the early pressure from the Aussies and put the bad balls away for fours. I was particularly impressed with the running between the wickets, converting that 1 run into a quick 2s.
  • The noise level from the sea of Indian fans was hair raising. Every four, six was cheered with extreme passion and noise.
  • A real captains knock from Kohli but the real highlight came when he went up to a section of the India fans to appeal to them to stop booing Steve Smith! Class Act!
  • Slightly surprised to see Pandya and Dhoni come up the order before KL Rahul but they were both explosive with their power hitting 4s and 6s – accelerating the run rate.

My favourite shot of the day came from Dhoni  at 331-3 he slogged Starc for an enormous six which went all the way back to the final row where a fan caught it one handed!  

  • Marcus Stonis had a superb one handed caught and bowled to dismiss MS Dhoni. Superb!
  • India Finished on 352- 5 with Dhawan’s 117 looking like it might be the difference between the sides

On to the Australia Innings:

  • With Australia needing to achieve the tall order of the highest successful run chase in World Cup history, it was surprising to see that Australia never really accelerated their innings. Hoping maybe they would patter along until the last 10 overs and attempt to get 100/120 then?
  • Warner (56) and Smith (69) looked solid but couldn’t convert their respective scores to anything worthy.  The batting was rather subdued and the rather relatively few boundaries in their innings was met with silence from the crowd which was 98% India fans. 
  • In the grand scheme of things people will always talk about Bumrah’s unorthodox bowling or the attacking wicket taking leg spinner Chahal. 
    However for me the it was Bhuveneshwar Kumar (Bhuvi) who made all the difference with his 2 wickets for 3 balls in the 40th over.  Trapped the prized wicket of Smith LBW and bowled Stoinis hitting the off stump!  This slowed the Australians down and soon the run rate pressure crept to around 12 an over. 
  • Alex Carey Impressed me with his 50 off 25 balls and should be considered to come in at 4 instead of Khwaja in the next game.

The end scorecards looked like a close game, however through most of the run chase Australia never looked comfortable enough to come close to the India set target. India set down a marker of strength in all areas and Australia were just a bit lacklustre which I am sure they will shake off for the coming matches.

I have to mention the 12th Man here for India. THE FANS….
I truly felt I was at the Wankade in Mumbai or Chinnaswamy in Bengaluru and not a corner of London! The Bharat Army were constantly chanting, dancing, engaging in play and the drums from all corner of the ground seriously made the atmosphere electric! There was a sea of blue everywhere you looked. I met passionate fans from around the world who had just come for the game from Singapore and New York!    Indian fans are like the Brazil Football fans.. they bring colour, noise, passion and pure joy around the world whenever India plays in big tournaments! 

Finally in the words of the little master Sachin Tendulkar “Enjoy the game, chase your dreams because dreams do come true” Maybe this is the start of the India teams’ dreams coming true and repeating the feat of 1983 and becoming World Champions again?

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