24th March 2011, sometime early in the day –Am I nervous? Yes. Am I tense? Bloody Yes. Do I have butterflies in my stomach? They are having a carnival inside. Am I unperturbed by the ghost of 2003? Will you please shut up?
Time moves on like a snail. It's 2:15 now. I switch on the TV in office. Siddhu is not letting anyone talk. Tony Greg is trying to snatch away some airtime from him. And Harsha? He is wearing a tie which looks to be made of Mandira Bedi’s saree. Et tu Harsha?
CNBC flashes “Sehwag is out injured.” What? “Fly in VVS then. He has Australian's number” I take out my cell phone to tell Cheeka. Pity, I don’t have Cheeka's number.
The moment of truth has come. If we win, there may be 2 more moments of truth. If we lose, when was the truth not bitter?
Ponting wins the toss. They bat first. Sehwag is playing. Damn CNBC.
“There goes the match” most of the people on my gtalk/FB say “Pressure, chasing against Australia, we are not going to win. They need to be contained within 260 else we lose. But they won’t score anything less than 300 against our bowling”
Didn’t we chase 300+ against them very recently is what I am thinking. Anyways, all I say to them is “Hope that the loss of the day is done with the toss”
Ashwin bowls the first over.
“Dude, why the first over to Ashwin? What is the strategy?” a friend calls and asks.
“Well isn’t what everyone doing these days. It’s supposed to be a turning track.”
“Yeah that is okay but why the very first over? Normally people give the second over to their spinner. What is the strategy?”
“Don’t know” I say. “How the hell does it matter” I think.
Ashwin does turn the ball. Dust flies as the ball pitches. “Pitch is bad” I tell a friend.
Watson hits a few fours. People around me start saying “He will hit a 100 today. He always does well. He always does well against us also.” A subset is contained in its superset. I learnt it in set theory. May be they didn’t.
Ashwin nails Watson. Ponting comes. He is totally out of form. He hits a few runs. “He will repeat his 2003 act today. We will gift his form back to him today.” more than 20 people tell me via different modes of communication.
“Dude, 4 bowlers used in 15 overs. What is the strategy?” same friend calls again.
“Let me call Gary and ask” I respond
Ponting and Haddin have a good partnership - 90 odd for 1 in 20 something overs.
A friend tells me “Match is gone now.”
“Just 20% of the match is over. Aren’t Australians also playing to win? They will surely score a few or you want a wicket every ball” I ask.
“Hmmmm” he says. I take it as permission granted. So does Haddin. Hits a four. Soon, he gets himself out.
Clarke comes in.
“He always does well against us” a guy standing behind me says.
“Well who doesn’t?” I feel like asking but don’t. Speech is silver. Silence is gold.
Sachin comes to bowl.
“Why?” I think “He hardly bowls these days. He will be erratic.”
He bowls a full toss. Luckily, it goes for just a single. “I told you so” I feel like flying immediately to Ahmadabad and tell Dhoni.
Sachin does a Warne – turns it square. Ball of the match. Ponting looks stunned. “Did I just see Warne bowling to me?” he thinks. "Golden arm" I think.
Clarke gets out. Zaheer is back. He nails Hussey. I calculate - If I start now, maybe I can reach home before our batting starts. I contemplate - or should I watch it in office. In a fight between office and home, you know who always wins. I am off to Churchgate station.
261 to chase is what a friend tells me. “98 lesser than the last time” I feel happy.
“What you say?” another friend asks on phone.
“We win.” I say confidently.
“No. We lose. Pitch is so difficult. Even Ponting found it difficult to score. We just do not stand a chance.”
“He has been finding it difficult to score for over a year” I say “We should win”
He disagrees. “No problems. Let’s agree to disagree”
“You can disagree with me but I cannot be disagreeable” he says. My head spins. English has never been my forte. Can someone please explain to me what he meant?
The chase begins. Lee bowls. It’s all there – pace, bounce, swing, line & length. Give all these four as choices to answer an MCQ. Munaf will answer “None of these.”
Tait bowls the second over. He has been our friend - since Perth 2008. Sachin hits him for four. Then he misses an upper cut. Tait sledges him. “Let’s thank Tait. He has done us a huge favor” says a friend. I agree. Completely agree.
We have a decent start. But I am tense. I go to the toilet. When nature calls, you respond.
I come back. Sehwag goes back. “I just don’t have any self control” I think.
GG looks scratchy but he improves. Sachin is making it look so easy. He always does.
GG dabs it to square leg. Ponting claims a catch. Then he says I am not sure. Over to you Mr. TV umpire. If Ponting is saying he is not sure, no point troubling the TV umpire” says everyone. For once, there is universal consensus. For once, it is true. It bounced a foot before Ponting. “Not his fault. He wouldn’t have known for sure” said someone on Cricinfo. "But how? I think Attila belongs to be. I am not sure. Can we ask the supreme court to decide?” I would have said in reply.
We are chasing 250+. We are one wicket down. Pitch looks a bit difficult but we look very much under control. Required run rate is quite manageable. We still have nine wickets in hand. “Hey, I have seen it before.” I think “Its déjà-vu but where?” Damn 1996.
“Don’t worry. He won’t get out this time” I think while going out to buy something. He does.
“It was 98/2 then. It is 94/2 now. Shit. Shit. He is gone again.” says a friend on phone.
“Relax. We are not the India of 90s. They do not have Murali or Jayasuriya or Arvinda” I reply.
Chase resumes. Delhi duo is doing fine. It looks easy.
I am too hungry. But to eat, I will have to move. Last time I moved, we lost Sachin. “Hold your hunger” orders a friend. I obey.
“Australian bowling hasn’t looked murderous. They are committing some mistakes in the field too. Indian batsmen will have to do something monumentally stupid to get out” says Ian Chappell on air.
Kohli hits a juicy full toss straight to mid wicket and asks Chappell “Did you mean something like this?”
Yuvraj comes in. He is having a dream run. Another partnership begins.
Try, try, and try till you succeed. GG tried exactly thrice. He succeeded on his third attempt. For first time in my life a thought came to my mind “Spot Fixing? Indian?” No. It cannot be. My faith in the team is unbreakable. Maybe GG wanted to consol Kohli in the dressing room. Kids need to be pampered. Seniors should groom them. But what if Younis Khan or Misbah had done a GG?
Dhoni is in. Dhoni and Yuvraj have won many matches for us - under more difficult circumstances and against better attacks. I am a big Dhoni fan. He is a great finisher. Or is he? He throws it away. May be the finisher is finished. “He has just lost a fan” I text a friend.
Raina comes in. He is shadow-practicing his pull. Opposition has bowlers who can bowl at 150+. It looks precarious now.
“No. We are not the team of 90s.”I hope". Chin music brigade comes back. Required run rate starts reaching towards six. I feel hard to breathe. Suffocation?
“There goes the match” shouts entire universe in my ears. I start to agree a bit. But I have one last throw of the dice left in my bag. I try my most trusted Tutka. I switch off the TV. I give Photon some rest. I start playing Age of Empires. It has worked, many a times.
Phone rings. I don’t pick it up. It rings again. I put it to silent mode. 30 minutes pass by. There are 12 missed calls. 8 messages – one of them saying “Please ask Mr. Tracer Bullet to shut up” Hurray!!! It means the match is still on.
I forfeit the game to computer and click on Cricinfo. It is taking time to open.
“Good signs are these. It means that the match is not lost yet” I think. Cricinfo is always slow in opening when the match is close. But my heart has come in my mouth. Cricinfo opens. Headline says – Yuvraj steering India into the semi final. My heart goes back to where it should be. I live to die another day.
I rush and switch the TV on. We need four to win. Yuvraj gets them. We win.
I call up my wife. I haven’t talked to her since morning. “I was confident we were going to win. It’s good that we did not bat first. If you cannot chase 260 with this batting line up, you don’t deserve to win the world cup. Our batting is best in the world.” she says.
I agree. An intelligent man never disagrees with his wife. I am intelligent. Iti Siddham.
Now, it’s over to Mohali. I hope Zee Cinema shows Gadar on this weekend.