Indians Too Hot To Handle
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We began the final day with various players absent at breakfast for fairly dubious reasons. Touch Rugby against one of the strongest sides in the area was scheduled for the afternoon, but before that everyone rushed into town to be conned by the street sellers.
The rugby was won resoundingly by Cambridge, in spite of Rosenberg’s rage at the dirty play of a French member of the opposition. The elusive Ansari darted between defenders as if weaving through the throngs of adoring ladies in Cindies, his flowing locks billowing in the distance.
A final dinner, including thanks to various members of the party for their organisational skills, was followed by the final loud and irritating taxi ride of the trip. Irish tried his hardest to get lost in the airport, but eventually all members boarded the flight successfully, happy to relax after a long and exhausting week and a half.
The final game of the tour, a Twenty20 against the Bombay Gymkhana, saw us face perhaps the strongest bowling side I have seen in a University match. Several high class seamers proved too much for our batsmen, and we managed a mere 170, despite Ananya Sen’s dashing innings at the end. Our score was chased fairly comfortably, ending the cricketing side of the tour on a disappointing note.
A reception after the game lifted spirits, Fish and Chips being served and a variety of end of tour fines being administered. I was the proud recipient of awards for being fat, generally abusive to both team mates and opponents, sexually harassing Wingate-Saul, and various others. Mooners quite rightly were pinged for accusing the captain of being a “cock“, and bullying various less talented members of the side.
The more adventurous members of the team gallivanted off to the nightclubs of Mumbai, where fruit juice and innocent conversation was enjoyed by all.
The magnificent splendour of the CCI was the venue for our next game- the Indian equivalent of the MCC. Team photos were hastily arranged and suspiciously talented looking opponents were eyed up. Irish claimed to have come back from the dead, despite appearing an odd tinge of grey.
We won the toss and elected to bat. Useful contributions from all, in particular Ansari’s vicious assault on the leg-side boundary, helped us post a competitive 218. Probert’s probing spell gave us hope, but the arrival of a professional saw the bowling casually dismissed to all corners of the ground, and a fairly comfortable victory for the home side was achieved.
Irish was sent off to hospital to acquire some drugs, whilst the sophisticated members of the side played billiards with some of the locals. The reception after the game saw Mill badger-baiting beautifully, whilst Greenwood sloped off early for a rather suspicious “early night”.
The Bombay Gymkhana was the venue for a Twenty20 game against a hastily arranged invitational XI. With no ill effects being reported following the Chinese the night before, it seemed the fixture there for the taking.
Tight bowling and excellent fielding, most notably from the beautifully languid Pearso, saw us restrict our opponents to a mere 117. And after a slow start we cantered home, with Ashton blazing a rapid 20.
The afternoon’s freedom saw some expert haggling from Wingate-Saul and myself, followed by a team visit to the CCI, the venue for the next day’s game, for a bbq and swim.
Various shapes were spotted floating around the bar, much to the delight of loose cannon Timms, who placed himself in prime position. Sadly he tucked only into the mutton Kebabs.
Today dawned hot and sunny and we arrived at a fabulous ground for what we predicted would be a very challenging fixture. Bombay University are notoriously strong and, after winning the toss and batting, got off to a blazing start. The rocketing run-rate was slowed by the introduction of the spinners, Timms, in particular, finding plenty of turn. As the pressure built, wickets began to fall and at 120-5 we were very much on top.
Despite this, good lower order batting on an excellent track combined with some sloppiness in the field saw them reach 313 from their 50 overs, a challenging target but not one that we felt to be out of reach. Rosenberg duly waltzed out to the middle, blasting the ball to all parts to give us a great start. However, his fall, just short of 50, saw wickets begin to tumble. A mixture of tight bowling and suspicious batting saw wickets taken regularly and we were never really in the hunt, falling 50 runs short despite some lusty hitting from the tail. On a personal level it was nice to make 88 and take a couple of wickets. With difficult fixtures to come, it was disappointing to fall short against a side that, though strong, was certainly not unbeatable.
Spirits were lifted by Matt Cook’s witticisms, most notably his thoughts on the lack of car accidents despite the crazy driving in India (“I haven’t seen many women driving”). A Chinese restaurant in the centre of town played host to a rowdy post-match dinner. Probert’s general naughtiness received its fully-deserved rewards, whilst I was – as usual – targeted for a host of ridiculous misdemeanours including questioning opponents’ diets, flirting with and abusing them and throwing a tantrum as a result of the perceived incompetence of the captain. Fines duly paid, our thoughts turned to another important fixture tomorrow.
We flew into Mumbai this morning and were greeted on our arrival by a very welcome wall of heat. After the warm-up games in Delhi, this section of the tour is the most important in assessing our overall performance.
As one might expect, our players are increasingly succumbing to a variety of illnesses; rather predictably, the only Irish member of the squad was the first to fall. The hotel here is right next to the sea, with a pair of very imposing guards threatening any snake-charmers that attempt to enter the gates.
A leisurely trip into the city-centre revealed an interesting array of gap-year tourists for elder statesman Mill’s probing eye – he was generally enthusiastic about the venture. In spite of these distractions, we returned to the hotel for a long and productive team meeting followed, like true professionals, by Dominos pizza and chocolate cake. After that it was early to bed, although Mooners claimed he had little sleep as a result of discovering some interesting late-night movies. Of Swedish origin, apparently.
Early start to get to game versus Delhi under 19s. With temperatures hovering around zero and a thick fog enveloping the ground, the game was reduced to a Twenty20. The bus journey included an enlightening discussion entitled “who would you least like to be left alone with your sister?” The intellectual players, most notably Probert, made some outrageous suggestions. Predictably a certain Queens’ college student featured prominently.
Winning the toss and batting, we were disappointed to score only 114. Despite a lively start, including some beautiful shots from Timms, no significant contributions were made, and we felt we were 30 runs below par. Despite a superb effort from the bowlers, notably senior pro Rosenberg and Blazing Squad member Matt Cook, Delhi streaked home with a few balls to spare, winning by 6 wickets.
Rugby League gun Wingate-Saul decided to punish himself with a savage training session in the grounds of the hotel, and somehow managed to coerce several players into joining him. Probert meanwhile discovered that his “stolen credit card” was nestling happily in his wallet, having clearly spent too much time during his PhD studying history rather than common sense.
Rest day saw our visit to the Taj Mahal which, despite the 6 hour journey, definitely did not disappoint. The trip did, however, reveal that Varsity Rugby try-scorer James Greenwood is one to watch out for, despite his rather orange and friendly exterior. Several of his exclamations drew gasps of dismay from even those members of the side prone to loose behaviour.
Greenwood’s affability nevertheless endeared him to the street-sellers, as he used his crafty Land Economy wisdom to hurl away his money with aplomb in exchange for some rather dubious items. An excellent tour through the Taj was followed by another sumptuous curry, and with Delhi-belly as of yet avoided, everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s game.
One day, one game and one win, as we easily defeated an admittedly average group of layabouts masquerading as the British High Commission! At one stage it looked as though we’d be travelling to India without our captain, Akbar Ansari. Fortunately he was granted a visa at the eleventh hour, thanks to some suspicious last minute dealings. Clearly he has friends in high places.
Having battled to the airport in blizzards, we somehow departed on time, allowing the excitable Northern members of the squad to admire the standard of air-stewardessing and food on display. Arrival at the hotel with only a few hours to go before the Twenty20 game saw a hastily eaten lunch, with salad predictably being avoided at all costs. From there it was straight to the ground which by our 4pm start time was blanketed in thick fog, despite the floodlights looming in the distance.
Phil Ashton’s desire to warm-up was overpowered by his longing to hot-wire the locals’ motorbikes but the rest, peering into the gloom, attempted some sort of pre-match preparation. Ansari won the toss and batted. Opener Rosenberg was quickly on his way back to the pavilion, castled by a looping in-swinger. On a slow and low wicket, the top order found run-scoring hard, and it took the scintillating strokeplay of local lad Ananya Sen and tour poster boy Ed Pearson to see us reach a strong total of 175. In response the opposition had little answer, with all of the bowlers getting a decent workout.
Back we went to the British embassy for drinks and banter, in a rather bizarre bar that could have been in the centre of London. A relaxing time was had by all before Ansari declared that it was time for bed, our thoughts turning to what will surely be a much harder game tomorrow.
The Blues Cricket Team are currently on a two-week tour of India, sponsored by Christ’s alumnus Yusuf Hamied. Read more of The Tab’s exclusive coverage here.