The Aussies bat first after a bizarre pre-game extravagance

The Australian team takes part in the colorful celebration of the Holi festival

Australia have selected an unchanged starting XI for the final test of their tour of India on a morning marred by an extravagant political event involving the Indian and Australian Prime Ministers in Ahmedabad.

It was a unique and bizarre start to a Test match as the two captains waited for PMs Narendra Modi and Anthony Albanese to do a lap of honor across the vast grounds in a vehicle with oversized cricket bats and stumps attached to the rear.

Prime Ministers Albanese and Modi lap the floor // Getty
Prime Ministers Albanese and Modi lap the floor // Getty

As the ‘batmobile’ completed its route around the venue, Australia captain Steve Smith – who joined his counterpart Rohit Sharma Albanese and Modi in shaking hands before the game – won the draw, choosing to bat first.

Due to the arrival of the political leaders and a subsequent dance performance in front of their vantage point at the Adani end of the site, neither team had been allowed to warm up on the ground before the game.

Instead, Australia and India did their warm-up in the nets outside the stadium.

Australian players made their preparations off the ground ahead of the Test //
Australian players have made their off-the-ground preparations ahead of the Test //

The Prime Ministers stood side by side with their respective countries’ players during the national anthems. The game was set to start on time despite the earlier delay in the draw.

Australia have sat fat with the side who hit back at Indore with a nine-wicket win to level the series ledger at 1-2, resisting the temptation to add more speed bowling to the mix and again with three spinners brought into play.

Australia’s five bowlers – Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Matthew Kuhnemann, Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc – had quickly marked their go-to spots as soon as they hit the ground to lift off the ground ahead of the spectacle.

India XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Kona Bharat (wk), Ravindrasinh Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umeshkumar Yadav, Mohammed Shami

Australia XI: Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Matthew Kuhnemann, Todd Murphy, Nathan Lyon

Green didn’t even have time to remove his media polo shirt after the Aussies hit the ground at 8am. Fans have been asked to arrive even earlier.

India made only one change, trading paceman Mohammed Siraj for veteran Mohammed Shami.

The two teams had no illusions that cricket was secondary for the first part of the day.

Hundreds of giant placards with Modi and Albanese heads line the streets of Ahmedabad, while giant banners featuring the political leaders decorate the outside of the huge stadium named after Modi.

Australia's batters hit the nets outside the testing ground // on the first morning
Australia’s batters hit the nets outside the testing ground // on the first morning

The slogan “75 years of friendship through cricket” accompanied the posters.

Despite the extensive security measures, officers were unable to stop a stray dog ​​from running onto the field as several guards gave chase. The Aussies bat first after a bizarre pre-game extravagance

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