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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 11:02 GMT
Edible googlies and 'Mr Jason'
Phil Long
By Phil Long
Travelling fan in Nagpur

My rickshaw driver cranked up his speed to 40mph and leant back to talk to me as we hurtled through the traffic chaos.

"Sir," he said, "Nagpur is not the final frontier. It is the centre of the universe!"

It was former Australia skipper Steve Waugh who grandly termed winning a series out here in India as "the final frontier".

Indian captain Rahul Dravid shakes hands with Australian skipper Adam Gilchrist
Dravid (left) shakes hands with Gilchrist after the third Test

But with Waugh gone it was left to Adam Gilchrist and his merry men to cut a swathe through the Indian batting and clinch the series here.

Over 200 Australian fans (some paying an incredible 200 a day to be here) cheered their boys to victory in a place which Glenn McGrath observed: "Not many people in Australia would have heard of."

Of course, the local media was awash with stories on McGrath making his 100th Test appearance in the match.

One bar put an advert in the papers inviting patrons to 'Come and dance with the Australian supporters'
But this paled into insignificance compared to the column inches dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar.

Would his tennis elbow allow him to build, as one newspaper reported six times in one edition, on his Test average of 156 in Nagpur?

It is not just the newspapers that have continued the hype and fervour surrounding this series.

Many of the local bars and restaurants have introduced new delights for both local and overseas punters in town for the game.

Take breakfast for instance. A bakery on one side of Central Avenue serves up the "metre dosa".

As the name suggests, that is a dosa - a savoury crepe - one metre in length, covering not one, not two but a staggering three plates!

If that's too much, then across the road another restaurant is serving up "Kumble's googly" as a dish on its breakfast menu.

It was undoubtedly delicious but as an Australian fan I bumped into pointed out: "I can't eat anything with googly in the description before I've had a few beers!"

Michael Kasprowicz (left), Jason Gillespie (centre), Glenn McGrath
The real Jason Gillespie (centre) celebrates with team-mates

Meanwhile, the local small-time entrepreneurs are quick to grab the opportunity to make a quick few rupees whilst the Test circus is in town.

Along with the usual flags and face-painting, one local vendor has hand-painted hundreds of face masks in the Indian tri-colours.

Unfortunately, the temperatures out here do not lend themselves to watching cricket in a mask and sales seemed to be exceedingly slow each day before the game.

After the fourth day's procession of Indian batsmen, including Tendulkar, whose 14-ball innings still saw the crowd inflate by a couple of thousand, the bars of Nagpur benefited from Australia's victory.

One, at the aptly named Hotel LB, had even put an advert in the papers inviting patrons to "Come and dance with the Australian supporters".

At another bar across town a very, very, vague look-alike of Jason Gillespie was enjoying a few cold beers to celebrate victory.

Imagine his surprise on leaving to find around 200 Nagpurians on the lookout for "Mr. Jason". The crowd eventually had to be dispersed by policemen with truncheons.

And finally back to my auto-rickshaw driver. His boast came because, geographically, the city lies at the very centre of India.

Centre of the universe or final frontier, I doubt whether many of the Australians in Nagpur on Friday night really cared which.

Rain shines on rickshaw drivers
18 Oct 04  |  Other International
Wall of noise fails to bring down Aussies
11 Oct 04  |  Other International


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