Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir strode onto the Chinnaswamy Stadium turf to begin the daunting task of chasing Australia's 307. At 6.58 pm, when the batsmen had barely played a few balls, the bladder of the clouds opened.
In the downpour, strengthening by the minute, Mitchell Johnson got Tendulkar lbw for a duck. Then, with India 9/1 and Gambhir and Irfan Pathan at the crease, the rain got too heavy. The covers came on, the players went off. Eighty minutes later, the sky cleared. But, the damage had been done.
After an inspection at 9.30 and after 181 minutes of play had been lost, the electronic scoreboard conveyed the news that everyone knew already — a wet outfield had forced the first ODI to be abandoned. Nonetheless, Lois Lane should have been in the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday. She would have known for sure that Clarke is superman.
We speak, though, of Michael Clarke and not Clark Kent. Having made a century on Test debut here in 2004, the 26-year-old Aussie continued his love affair with Bangalore with a fine 130 (132b, 10x4, 3x6).
Clarke and Brad Haddin (69) put on 144 for the fifth wicket as Australia scored 307 for seven. The partnership was the highest for the fifth wicket here and cancelled out Australia's poor start, in which they were quaking at 18 for 2 at one stage. A 25-ball 37 by James Hopes helped them finish with a flourish.
Clarke equalled Shaun Pollock's mark for the highest individual score at this venue. Off-spinner Ramesh Powar was the most expensive bowler for India, conceding 50 runs from six overs. At the same time, he bowled the only maiden of the innings.
When Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked out for the toss, the stadium erupted. But applause made way for playful boos when the coin spun in favour of Adam Gilchrist, Australia's captain in the hamstring-enforced absence of Ricky Ponting. Gilchrist eyed the flat, grassless track with lust, then said, "We'll bat."
The decision proved right. Playing their first 50-over match since winning the World Cup in the West Indies, the Australian side, save for the initial blows, did not show signs of rustiness. In addition to the Clarke-Haddin repair job, a smaller stand before that between Clarke and Matthew Hayden also helped the Australian innings.
Australia: Adam Gilchrist (captain), Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Brad Haddin, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clarke, James Hopes.
India: Mahendra Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.