Team India player Ravindra Jadeja waves to his fans at Radisson Blu, Ranchi, on Sunday; cricket buffs wait to catch a glimpse of their heroes; and Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson walks into the hotel. (Hardeep Singh)
Will Dhurwa’s lucky greens save India’s willow warriors from yet another embarrassing defeat in the hands of the mighty Australians?
The question was perhaps in the mind of every cricket buff who joined the welcome bandwagon outside Birsa Munda Airport on Sunday afternoon as the two teams touched down in Ranchi for the October 23 ODI, the fourth in a seven match series.
“It is said that the captain’s knock of 139 not out could not save the day at Mohali yesterday (Saturday). Australia is leading the series 2-1. Hope the Dhurwa charm works to even the score,” said a fan of Team India skipper M.S. Dhoni.
Though the sprawling JSCA International Cricket Complex drew flak for its poor wicket after the twin IPL matches in May, Mahi and his boys have always had a field day every time they played on the Dhurwa pitch since it made international debut in January this year.
In the maiden ODI against England on January 19 and in the three recent CLT20 ties that the Chennai Super Kings played here, success had come easy for Dhoni’s brigade.
In the current series against Australia, the 300-plus scores in the three preceding matches and India’s bowling disaster on Saturday are enough for fans to keep their fingers crossed for a Dhurwa miracle.
The only concern is that the pitch has been playing maverick. During the maiden one-day, it allowed a paltry total of 150. Both the IPL games too remained low-scoring with an average of 150. But during last month’s CLT20, the pitch was magnanimous. All five ties saw heavy totals.
JSCA officials insisted that this time, pitch conditions will be favourable both for batsmen and bowlers.
“The CLT20 proved critics wrong and showed that the pitch has potential. We prepare the ground and pitch before every game according to BCCI guidelines. The game will be a good one,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
“Besides the captain (Dhoni), many senior Indian players have had good acclimatisation here last month. So, they have an advantage against George Bailey (the Australian skipper) and his boys,” he added.
Has the recent spell of heavy rain played spoilsport? No, stressed JSCA chief curator S.B. Singh.
“The outfield changes because of rain, but we contain the moisture on the pitch with covers. I would also like to say that the pitch will assist all players — seamers, spinners and batsmen. It has received good sunshine and rolling off late,” he said.
Unlike earlier occasions, crowd frenzy in the capital was limited. Only 200-odd people gathered outside the team hotel for free stargazing. The crowd had been even thinner outside the airport arrival lounge. The numbers notwithstanding security personnel found the situation “too hot to handle” as enthusiasm was at its peak when stars like Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja made guest appearances.
While the skipper chose to drive home from airport in his car, the teams headed for the hotel in their respective buses.
Suchand, a fan from Bundu painted in Indian colours head to toe and flaunting Jadeja on his chest, sped his bike from airport to hotel to catch a glimpse of his star. “I am a diehard fan (of Jadeja) and I want to greet him with flowers,” he told the guards bouquet in hand.
His prayers weren’t answered though when the team bus reached hotel 15 minutes past 4pm.
College student Smitha Pathak, a resident of Hawai Nagar, was left disappointed too. “I wanted to see Yuvraj and Raina in person, but they were whisked away while we waited outside the airport,” she rued.
What do you think will be India’s score in this match?