As soon as India lost to South Africa, entire universe shouted in unison – Why Nehra? I was told that lightening doesn’t strike twice at the same place but it did. As soon as Sanjay Manjrekar did his insider trading act yesterday, before the toss was done, by letting the folks in studio know about Nehra’s inclusion in the side, the same question was repeated – Why Nehra? I am sure that even amidst the worst of arguments between Nehra and his wife, she would never have regretted choosing him with such intensity.
As the day started, I was quite confident that India will beat Pakistan until I saw TV presenters at CNBC wearing India T-shirts.
“Damn!!! There goes the match.” I thought “Expectations and hype are our biggest enemies.” My hopes dropped down.
A friend messaged “Who won the toss?”
I replied “Toss is not done yet”
“What is our team for the day?” he asked again. I thought of informing him abouth the rule that team is declared at the toss and not before it. But I m quite silent types. I didn’t reply back.
We won the toss. We were batting first. Ashish Nehra was playing in place of R Ashwin. Only if Dhoni had thought about his fan that he lost in the match against Australia, I might have survived a torturous interrogation. Only if Manmohan Singh and Soniya Gandhi had my number or gtalk id, I would have said “Entire country asked me why Nehra is playing in place of Ashwin?”
And I wondered, “Who is Ashwin? A good bowler who has done well at domestic level, IPL and opportunities given to him. He should have played but is he so big? He is no Warne or Murali for sure”
Never watch an Akshay Kumar movie just because its promo looks good. It may not look good even in promos. Never target a girl just because she looks to be worth targeting. What if her dad is not so rich? Never answer your wife’s question without thinking. You will have to face more questions. Never judge a pitch by the way Sehwag plays. He plays the way he wants to.
He did the same yesterday. It looked like a 300 pitch. “No. nothing less than 350 will suffice.” said someone on twitter. “Hope we play out 50 overs.” I was thinking.
Sehwag was given LBW. Never challenge Simon Taufel’s decision. Sehwag did, immediately. He failed. “That was a wasted review. That was plumb” said someone. “Well if there was even 1% of probability of success, you take the chance because it’s Sehwag” I thought.
Sachin was given LBW. May be you can challenge Ian Gould’s decision. Sachin did, after consulting Gambhir. “That was plumb. Why the hell he went for a review? He missed the trajectory of the ball completely” I thought. Decision was overturned. Never challenge Sachin’s ability to judge the trajectory of a ball. In fact never challenge Sachin at all.
Sachin looked patchy, very patchy. But he kept going on. Pakistan’s fielding looked terrible. They kept dropping Sachin but catching others. Soon we were 4 down. Dhoni came in. “I am playing well in the nets” he said something like this before the match. “Azharuddin. That is Azharuddin. Damn, he lost in the semis” I thought.
33 overs were done. I messaged a friend “Shall I leave the office now? I did so in the match against Australia.”
“DO IT” was his reply.
To reach home, I took a Virar local at Churchgate station. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Mumbai – Mahatma Gandhi was abused and thrown out of a train in South Africa for the reasons well known. But if you board a Virar local from Churchgate and try getting down at Borivali, there is a huge probability that you will be abused, beaten up, and thrown out of the train once it has crossed Borivali. I took that risk in the match against Australia but the train looked empty then. I took the risk yesterday although train looked full. “Anything for the world cup” I thought.
I got a sms from a friend, “260. We win.” I agreed.
Another friend called up “50 short. No chance”
“Pitch is not easy. Even Sachin struggled” I said.
“No. It’s not that difficult. They made it look difficult. Even Ponting struggled the other day on a difficult pitch. But there is a difference. Sachin always looked like getting out. He couldn’t score freely. Ponting struggled but he was scoring freely. Ponting never looked like getting out” he replied.
“Next time you talk, please think before doing so” I requested.
The chase started, smoothly. Twitter was full of messages like “Ashwin. Oh Ashwin. Where are you?” The way some of them were chanting for Ashwin, looked like they might jerk off soon.
“He is cricket’s Rahul Gandhi. A national hero without having done anything worthwhile” I thought.
I tried my most trusted tutka. I cut off myself from the world and handed over the TV to mom so that she could watch Sasural Genda Phool. I started playing Age of Empires.
“Mayans, shit. I hate Mayans” I cribbed about the civilization I got in the game. I started concentrating on Sasural Genda Phool. I have watched almost all the episodes of Sasuraal Genda Phool but last night’s episode was making me sweat. It was tense.
“Shit. Suhana has got brain tumor. What will Ishan do now? One wicket and all will be fine” I thought.
Phone was full of messages – Match gone, Take a wicket, will they have a 10 wicket victory, where is Ashwin?
Phone rang, “Dude, just be quiet. Understand. Let’s just be quiet.”
“I am not watching. I am trying my tutka” I said.
I switched on to the match thinking “A wicket must have fallen. That is why he called”
I was wrong. Two wickets had fallen.
The tutka had worked again. I started hopping around – TV serials, AOE, match, Cricinfo.
“Wow. Computer's civilization is Persians this time. Let’s make some monks now.”
“Suhaana’s sister-in-law looks so bitchy. She stays in my building.”
“Wait, people are shouting. Yes. Younis Khan is out. Umran is in. Hell, he can bat and bat well.”
“Oh, computer has attacked with Paladins. Where are my halberdiers?”
“Mom, what is next? Phulwa. Oh I love that serial”
“Hey wait, people are shouting again. Umran is gone”
Mom was getting irritated as I was not eating my dinner.
“Wait Mommy. Please don’t disturb. I am too tense to eat”
“What happened” she looked worried for me. She always looks worried for me.
“Match Mom, Match. I will eat once the match is over.
“Arey Khaana kha lo. Jeeten ya haaren, tumko kya milega?Chupchaap khana khao” (Eat your dinner. What will you get if we win or lose? Shut up and eat your meal) she ordered.
“Mom, you have known me for over 3 decades? Yet you are talking like this?”I thought and obeyed her. I am an obedient son.
We kept chipping away with wickets. Misbah did yesterday what Miandad did in 1992 – batted Pakistan out of the match.
We won. We are in the finals now. I started shouting. I started laughing. I almost started crying. Mom came running from her room. She looked worried thinking her son has lost his mental balance.
“Indian won” I said. She smiled. Oh I love that smile. “Keep smiling mom” I thought.
Phone started ringing. Its message box was almost full. Presentation ceremony started. Mr. Tracer Bullet was at his repetitive best.
Dhoni said “I think we misread the pitch. We should have played Ashwin”
People said “See. He accepted his mistake. He should have played Ashwin in place of Nehra. Lucky Bastard.”
I thought “Read between the lines you morons.”
Sachin looked so embarrassed when asked about how he felt after getting 7 lives “No. There were 5”
Now, Lankans are coming. Or shall I say “We are coming, Lankans”.
But as Saturday comes closer, entire nation will keep mulling over one question – Why Nehra?
Once again the enemy is coming from Lanka. Don’t we need a Ramchandra (Ashwin) to win this battle for us? Or do we? Dhoni will have to decide. But if he decides to do what he did in Mohali, Entire country will be asking the same question - Why Nehra?.
In each of past India-Pak encounters in world cups, a perticular event became the image of the match . This time an event prior to the match became the image of the match. Whenever I think about this match in future, the image of this match will be that question - “Why Nehra?”