Two friends, originally from Mumbai but living in Perth long enough to become Australian citizens, told this correspondent on the eve of Sunday’s India vs South Africa ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match that it is a given that Rohit Sharma’s team will enter the semifinal, “otherwise the TRP ratings would come down”. And ideally, an India vs Australia final.
Perth has about 1.40 lakh South Asians comprising a majority from India followed by Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Sunday, the day of the double header at the Perth Stadium, saw both India and Pakistan in action, though in different matches. Pakistan crushed The Netherlands just before the India-South Africa match. The Pakistani supporters were very few in the 60,000-capacity stadium and there were more Indian fans who were taking their seats early to settle down well in time for the second match of the day involving India and South Africa.
The famed Indian top-order came a cropper against the four-pronged pace attack that they fell into the trap on the leg side, falling to the short balls. The large number of Indian fans went home disappointed as India, barring Suryakumar Yadav’s second successive half-century, made only 133 for nine, which the Proteas knocked off with five wickets in hand in the last over.
It was a disappointing result for the Indian team, which had a 10-day camp before the start of the World Cup and also played two practice matches at the WACA. And, India’s disappointing result came in the fifth and final match that the city hosted in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
While the talk before India’s second match in Sydney revolved around how unhappy the Indian players were with regard to being supplied cold sandwiches and improper food after their practice session, they were well fed in Perth when they played two practice matches with the WACA XI, courtesy Twin Flame, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant on Guildford Road in Bayswater area of the city.
Twin Flame, run by an Indian family from Anand in Gujarat, received encouraging reviews for the vegetarian dishes prepared and sent across to cater to the Indian team. Its owner Trushar Patel, 38, came to Perth to study IT. He saw an opportunity to open a vegan restaurant and is catering to not only Indians but also the Australians.
Trushar’s wife Parul is the head chef while the cuisines are hand-picked by his mother-in-law. He also caters to various parties including birthdays and other ceremonies while they have got several orders for marriages.
Trushar’s brother Vishal helps him in managing the affairs while he has hired other Indians in the restaurant for various jobs.
A laidback city, Perth is also famous for the Swan River that flows across it. A walk along the river leads to the Perth Stadium. Optus Stadium, as it also known as, has become the venue for international cricket since the last four years as it has a capacity to hold 60,000 spectators, and hence more revenue, thereby rendering the historic Western Australian Cricket Association ground has been rendered hors de combat.
On Sunday, the locals take a stroll well past noon at the lake, the sun making it more pleasant for the otherwise cold and windy conditions.
The WACA ground, which is less than 1.50km from Optus Stadium and can be reached by crossing the Swan River, used to be known as the bounciest pitch in the world. It was also at the WACA in 1991-92 when Sachin Tendulkar scored his second Test century and rates that knock of 114 as one of his best Test centuries.
It was here that Kapil Dev reached 400 Test wickets in the same series. WACA was also famous for the Fremantle Doctor, the open ground facilitating the afternoon sea breeze blowing across the ground, assisting fast bowlers, especially in the session between tea and close of play during the Test matches.
India posted a memorable victory at the WACA in the Test under Anil Kumble following the Monkeygate scandal that originated in Sydney earlier on the tour in 2007-08. The WACA currently is in the process of being redeveloped into a boutique stadium, a small sized stadium that brings the patrons closer to the events. The commercial aspects still cannot destroy that rich history that WACA has.
The Perth Stadium is huge in size, like a cauldron that is as massive as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, though the capacity is less than the famous ‘G’. The full stadium covered on all sides does not mean that the wind doesn’t blow across or the conditions do not become cold, much to everyone’s discomfort. Ask the players who have played at the Perth Stadium at this time of the year, which has been unusually cold, blame it on global warming and the unusual weather patterns.
The city is from where the legends of Australian cricket including the Dennis Lillee-Rod Marsh combine, the Marsh family of father Geoff and sons Shaun and Mitchell, have emerged. Not to forget the ‘Golden Boy’ Kim Hughes.
Cricket is not the No. 1 sport in Australia and it was evident from the fact that a club in Maylands, Perth, placed a notice at the entrance of a popular neighbourhood supermarket. It said: “Cricket Players Wanted. Maylands Cricket Club is seeking players for their upcoming summer season, from October to March.” It also went on to say that the registration fees were some of the cheapest in Perth….”
Imagine this kind of an advertisement in India!
India, currently second in the points table, head to Adelaide for their next match against Bangladesh to be played on November 2 and then to Melbourne to face Zimbabwe on November 6. Their entry to the semifinal is nearly certain, though one cannot take for granted.