3rd over: Pakistan 10-1 (Rizwan 4, Shan Masood 4) They still can’t lay bat on ball! Bhuvneshwar is bowling to Shan Masood now, and cuts him in half twice in a row, then three times in the over, to smash the ball into pad. A wide and a dicey leg glance are the only avenues for Pakistan to score until Shan Masood squeezes out a yorker and Rizwan is sharp enough to call him through.
2nd over: Pakistan 6-1 (Rizwan 4, Shan Masood 1) So in comes Shan Masood and picks up where Rizwan left off: unable to lay bat on ball. Left-hander facing left-armer, and the latter is hitting a length and getting swing, like a Test match first morning. Eventually Shan Masood tries the Morse cod run – dot, dot dash – and would have been run out at the non-striker’s end had Virat Kohli hit the stumps with an underam throw from mid on. First run off the bat after 11 balls. But Rizwan finishes the over well: Arshdeep doesn’t correct his line for the right-hander, and delivers it on the pads to offer a leg glance for four.
WICKET! Babar lbw Arshdeep Singh 0, Pakistan 1-1
Huge moment! First ball, the best in the world in this format is given out! Arshdeep bowls left-arm over the wicket, swings the ball into the pads of Babar Azam, and it hits him in line with middle and leg. Of course he has to review, but it’s likely to be clipping leg stump… and it is! A red light, not a yellow one. Pitched the ball it up, gave it a chance to swing, and Babar couldn’t make contact. The noise in this ground right now…
1st over: Pakistan 1-0 (Rizwan 0, Babar o) Bhunvneshwar Kumar starts things off, and he looks to be operating at top pace from the beginning. Rizwan leaves the first ball outside off, but the second leaps alarmingly at him and smashes him on the glove! Painful. He needs the physio, gets treatment, and elects to bat on. Third ball, zips over the top edge of the diagonal bat as he flails at it. Pace, bounce, carry from Bhuvneshwar, with a perfect seam position. Fifth ball: flail and miss! The bounce again! The seam movement taking it away from the bat. Only the sixth ball spoils the sequence, down the leg side marginally for a wide. The replacement delivery cuts into Rizwan and tenderises his thigh pad, too high and going down leg although the bowler appeals.
What a first over!
And we’re away…
Huge flags on the outfield held by volunteers. The teams in front of them. The anthems play out, voices rolling around the amphitheatre in waves. Goosebump moment.
The fireworks go off – the literal ones – and the bowl of the MCG is filled with smoke. It dissipates quickly in the cool swirling Melbourne air. This is October, not yet summer, so it’s not freezing but it’s on the brisk side.
So much of today’s result will come down to the pairing between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan at the top of Pakistan’s batting order. They are the most prolific pair in history, with 2313 runs together for Pakistan at an average of 53.
Mind you, second spot goes to Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, with 1809 runs at 51.
People on the internet might have a set against Virat Kohli, but the difference in crowd response when he appeared on the big screen compared to every other Indian player tells you that he’s by far the favourite with the average spectator in the crowd.
Babar Azam *
Mohammed Rizwan +
Rohit Sharma *
Right then. I’m told that Rohit said the overcast conditions made him hope for swing, hence bowling first. Babar thinks that 160 could be competitive – could be right, given the MCG pitch is often a bit slow, and the boundaries are so big.
India win the toss and will bowl
Another mighty roar as Rohit Sharma benefits from the falling coin. He’ll choose to field. Why, I can’t tell you, because I cannot hear a word he says over the noise of the crowd. Anyone on TV got a quieter line? Babar Azam gets a pretty decent cheer as well when it’s his turn to speak.
Wowwww! A huge roar at the ground as Ravi Shastri appears on the big screen to conduct the toss. He’s back.
Drop me a line: my email is email@example.com, or I’m on the tweets at @GeoffLemonSport. There’s often not much time during a T20, but we’ll try to get some reader contributions into the coverage if you have something interesting or original to add. Consider the gauntlet thrown down.
What about the weather? The talking point for the last few days has been the likelihood of rain. We had lots of it on Friday night, some more on Saturday and Saturday night, but none so far today. And the radar for now looks clear! Happy days and happy nights.
Here we go! The most populous rivalry in world cricket, in front of a crowd the likes of which we may not have seen before. Coming to you live from the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and I can tell you that it is heaving inside and out. The seats look about three quarters full with more than half an hour until the first ball, and the crowd outside was immense on the way in, with stages and bands and performers and all the trimmings. The noise in here, with the windows open up on the broadcast level, is impressive. And that’s just people chatting and catching up.