R Ashwin's father over the moon to be at MCG

R Ashwin's father makes it to the Melbourne Cricket Ground; finds it hard to believe he is at the iconic venue

R Ashwin's father had to literally pinch himself to realise that he was at the colossal Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), watching his son bat with tailenders to try and close in on Australia's first innings total of 333 here

Ravichandran, the father of R Ashwin (in striped t-shirt) at the MCG
yesterday. Pic/Sai Mohan

Ravichandran rarely visits a ground to watch India's new spin sensation. In fact, he didn't even travel to the World Cup matches. "I still cannot believe this is happening. As somebody who grew up listening to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) commentary, following India's cricket here in Australia, it was always my dream to visit MCG one day. Here I am. But the greater thing is that I am watching Ashwin play at MCG. That is something which is still a little difficult to believe.

"I did not even in my wildest dreams think that something like this would happen," he told MiD DAY while seated close to the Bill Ponsford stand at the iconic Victorian venue.

He met Ashwin at the close of Day One. "I went to his hotel room and talked to him a little, not so much about his cricket or the state of the Test match, but just generally. I rarely talk to him about his cricket. As you know, I don't even visit the venues to watch him play. I was forced to come here by my friend R Ramnath, who said that we must at least be here for the Boxing Day Test," he said.

"I am proud of the way he performed against West Indies (22 wickets) and now he's showing lot of character for a guy on his first tour to Australia," Ravichandran was enquiring with this writer about what the Australian players thought of his son. "I heard that Bill Lawry was impressed with the fact that Ashwin bowls with close to 36 revolutions. It's good to know that Aussie players and writers are impressed with him," he said.

Subroto: Just a start for Umesh 
Umesh Yadav's mentor Subroto Banerjee was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) yesterday when his ward rattled the Australian batsmen with pace and swing. Yadav scalped David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh and Peter Siddle in a fine exhibition of fast bowling.

Subroto Banerjee

"I am so proud of him. I always knew he would do well here. It hasn't come as a surprise to me. This is just the beginning. I am expecting many more good things," he told MiD DAY. Banerjee feels like a local here in Australia, having played club cricket for close to eight years. "It's good to be back here. I am a local here, just love this country," he said. Just 10 minutes after his entry to the members' enclosure, Yadav had Siddle caught behind.

Cheeka's nephew at the MCG
India's chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth cannot make it to Australia because his son Anirudha is getting married later this week. However, his nephew, Abhishek Bharathkumar was at the MCG with his friends to watch Day Three of the Test match.

Abhishek Bharathkumar (right), nephew of Kris Srikkanth, at the MCG
yesterday. Pic/Sai Mohan

"He can't make it because of his son's wedding. He's still trying to be here for the last two Tests," he said.
Incidentally, Abhishek's father played cricket for Tamil Nadu. His uncle (father's brother) Bharat Arun was part of the Tamil Nadu side that last won the Ranji Trophy in 1987-88, and also played two Tests and four one-day internationals for India.

Cartoonist Rose gets to work
Al Rose has 30 years of experience in cartoons and magazine design. But, cricketers never intrigued him as much. He rarely visits cricket stadia. In the mid 1980s, he once approached Imran Khan with a caricature displaying the then Pakistan captain with a lion's head. Imran was angered.

Al Rose

His intention was to depict the all-rounder as the Lion of Pakistan. However, Javed Miandad loved his impression of a little man in the shadow of the stumps. Yesterday, Rose visited the MCG hoping to find a character to sketch. He found Ishant Sharma, and swiftly got to work. About half-an-hour later, he put the finishing touches to a breathtaking caricature that shows the fast bowler with unusually long hands.

Ishant Sharma's caricature

"I just saw his nose, hair and built, and was fascinated. He's got the type of persona that an artist looks for," he said. "Caricatures are all about having fun. Some people take offence when they see a long nose or unusually big  ears. But that's where the fun lies. I have rarely found a cricketer that fascinated me. In 2007,  I drew Tendulkar, Kumble and Dravid. But I never wanted to put them on exhibition or for sale. These are just for my own pleasure. I also liked am Gambhir's face a lot. It's got something different," he said.

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