Spectators at the Asian Games were asked to beware of an onslaught of cricket balls in the stands as India’s opening batter Yashasvi Jaiswal smashed his way to a 48-ball century, helping his team to a 23-run win over Nepal in their debut at the men’s tournament in the games.
India is mad about the sport but it is barely seen in China, hence the locals were reminded to keep a watchful eye during the Twenty20 international at a picturesque ground in Hangzhou on Tuesday.
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Volunteers walked through the terraces shouting, “Be careful of the ball,” and carried signs in Chinese saying: “Take care to avoid.”
As well they might, with Jaiswal clobbering seven sixes before falling for 100, helping India put 202 for four on the board.
Nepal number five Dipendra Singh Airee, who scored the fastest fifty in T20 internationals against Mongolia last week, then got in on the act, smashing three sixes in as many balls in his 15-ball 32 during the team’s chase.
Soon after, a message rang out from the loudspeaker repeating the warning, adding: “Don’t catch the ball.”
India’s best players are at home preparing for the 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup, yet there is pride at stake for the second-string squad captained by Ruturaj Gaikwad and representing India for the first time at the Games.
India’s women cantered to gold last week, putting pressure on the men to follow suit.
‘Add oil, Nepal!’
Local fans chanted “Add oil, Nepal!”, a local parlance meaning “Come on!” as they supported Nepal over India – a nation with whom China has long maintained fraught relations.
It was all in vain, though, as India bowlers Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh took five wickets between them and set up the semifinal against either Bangladesh or Malaysia.
Though only a few hundred spectators were present at the Zhejiang University of Technology venue, the match was beamed live into India on digital and TV platforms.
Having skipped cricket at past Asian Games, India’s debut has been a coup for Hangzhou where the sport has returned to the programme after being dropped for Jakarta in 2018.
Cricket is bidding to join the programme at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics and a decision is expected soon.