A pitchwatchman all the way from Pakistan!

Every night at 7, with the giant stadium emptying out and everyone headed homeward after a hard day’s grind, a figure wearing the yellow bib of a famous security agency wends its way to the middle of the Optus Stadium pitch. It’s the start of a gruelling 12-hour shift for the young man, whose job is to stand guard over the playing surface. Call him nightwatchman or pitchwatchman, this cricket-crazy individual from Pakistan doesn’t care.

“It’s just an unbelievable experience for me,” he says, preferring not to be named. “I walk the bowlers’ run-ups at both ends, I take selfies and send them to my friends in Pakistan who are both happy for me and a little jealous as well. I would have loved for India to win, but…” Not his fault, of course, that Virat Kohli’s men couldn’t put it past the hosts.

 

Solimon’s piece of wisdom

Solimon isn’t exactly a common name, and there is nothing common about this Solimon, one of the many cabbies who has ferried us around on this tour. After the polite enquiries about where we are from, he dismisses our questions about his country of origin by saying, “I am from Africa.”

Right, but from where? “It’s a tiny country, you wouldn’t have heard of it?” Try us. “Eritrea,” he says, grinning triumphantly, then adding, “Very close to Sudan. But hey, how can you guys watch five days of cricket? If I don’t get a result in three hours, I say enough of this, I am going home.”

Solimon is well versed with Bollywood. “Amibath Chauhan,” he starts, and laughs uproariously when we correct him. “Complicated name. But I am also a fan of Shashi Kapoor and Dharmendra.”

His parting shot, “The guys should keep sport away from politics. India and Pakistan must play more often, I don’t know much cricket but I know that is a special rivalry.” Oh, and by the way, he thinks Shane Warne and Michael Clarke are still active cricketers!

 

Jumbo contingent on the march!

After enduring scorching heat in Perth, the Indian team touched base in the cooler Melbourne. The Victorian capital is famous for its fickle weather and one can witness all seasons in one day. If it’s bright and sunny one moment, it can suddenly turn cool the next before rains catch you unawares.

The Indian team is playing pretty much the same way – exceptional one day and totally listless the next. After a chastening 146-run defeat that left them level at 1-1 with Australia, the Indians have decided to take a three-day break besides Wednesday’s travel-day off.

They will resume their practice on December 23, giving themselves three days of practice ahead of the Boxing Day Test on December 26.

Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal and Baroda all-rounder Hardik Pandya are expected to join the team in a day or two.

Agarwal, who was part of the squad in the two-Test series against West Indies but didn’t get to play, has replaced injured Prithvi Shaw while Pandya swells an already huge team as the 19th player, only five more than 15-member jumbo support staff which includes - head coach, assistant coach, bowling coach, fielding coach, team manager, throw-down specialist, video analyst, trainer, physio, two masseurs, logistics guy, media manager, two security personnel and logistics manager. It’s an Indian squad in most home matches!

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A pitchwatchman all the way from Pakistan!

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