A battle between a heavyweight pugilist and a bare-knuckled boxer

When the second string of Australia’s bowling attack came up against the latter half of Afghanistan’s batting line-up, the gloves were off.
When the second string of Australia’s bowling attack came up against the latter half of Afghanistan’s batting line-up, the gloves were off. ©AFP
At around noon on Saturday, hundreds of Bristolians broke on to the streets of the bustling city centre, carrying “Kill to Dress” banners, as part of their Extinction Rebellion. In addition to blocking important road junctions and storming into clothes stores, the campaigners also indulged in flash mobs, mass clothes-swapping and pop-up catwalks. It was their bid to get the people of Bristol to not buy new clothes for a whole year and thereby limit the fashion industry’s role in climate change. The raucous yet non-violent protest continued for five hours.A few miles away to the north-east, an equally charged-up bunch of Englishmen and women had filled up the Bristol County Ground almost entirely. With the help of a few genuine Afghani fans, the lot were not so much protesting but certainly making a very vocal statement against the Australians. Some had even gone ahead and purchased the Afghanistan flag, while a couple on one of the windows in the Grace Apartments on one end of the ground had even dressed themselves up in sandpaper for good measure. Every Afghani wicket was being received with boos while every boundary scored was greeted with loud cheers. The English were making their feelings towards the visiting Aussies, Steve Smith and David Warner in particular, known very brazenly. And one rowdy who got a little too risque with his chants even ended up being evicted from the ground eventually.The action in the middle too, meanwhile, seemed to have a more rustic feel to it. For, Australia and Afghanistan were involved in a contest that resembled a fight between a heavyweight pugilist and a bare-knuckled boxer. Neither seemed keen on wasting their time with jabs or blocks. It was all about throwing punches and hooks at each other with no line of defence, expecting the other to do the same.The match had started off, however, on a high-quality note. Mitchell Starc had swung the new-ball to clean-up Mohammad Shahzad in the first over. Pat Cummins had then got the new-ball to jump off a length in characteristic fashion to have Hazratullah Zazai caught behind in the second over. Rahmat Shah had then walked out and produced a classy array of flick shots and a couple of drives while making a well-paced 60-ball 43.
But now as the second string of Australia’s bowling attack came up against the latter half of Afghanistan’s batting line-up, the gloves were off.