For readers from a non-cricketing nation, you’ll have to bear with me. This post is about that one sport which instills the highest levels of patriotism amongst my countrymen!
Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.
This phrase has been re-ascertained, not just once, but on numerous occasions in the recent past. Yesterday was no exception to this.
The T20 World Cup is going on, and India is the Host. When the 11 players of the Indian team are working (playing..!), the entire nation stops working to watch them do their work. Such levels of passion. Though there is the inadvertent criticism that there is a humongous increase in the number of matches being played these days, every single Indian ensures to follow the match when the Men in Blue play.
Having spectacularly lost to New Zealand, and after a convincing win against Pakistan, the Indian team had to win their duel against Bangladesh to stay in the hunt for the World Cup. So it was that Wednesday evening saw me leave early from work. *From where I work, getting back in front of the TV to watch a match can be a luxury. What with 30kms of relentless traffic!!*
By the time I was able to watch the match, India was already halfway into their innings. And things seemed promising with Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina at the crease. 150-160 seemed like an easily achievable score. But no sooner had I heaved a sigh of content and wickets started pummelling! One by one, the middle order started crumbling. Due credit to the Bangladeshi players. They had done their homework. Not many loose deliveries and boundaries were hard to come by. Frustration was at its peak. At the end of 20 overs, India managed a meek 146. Defendable? You could say so.. But the Indian bowlers had a daunting task ahead!
Begin the Bangladeshi innings. And the first thing to happen – a misfield and a boundary because of that. Nothing seemed to be going right for the Indians. Bowlers were thrashed all over the field. And runs didn’t come in one’s and two’s but in boundaries and sixes. The win-predictor which was in India’s favour at the start of the match went the other way round, all too soon. Steadily, Bangladesh were all set to script their first victory over India, in India. With the seamers being punished, the spinners were the only hope. Enter Jadeja, Ashwin and Raina. They managed to keep India in the battle.
But Bangladesh kept fighting.
Despite a few tight overs here and there, it seemed tough to pull a victory from this one for the Indians.
It was the penultimate over, and Jasprit Bumrah came in. Not all of us were happy with that decision of Dhoni. He conceded 16 runs in his previous over and bringing him to bowl the 19th over, well.. Not something I’d have done! But now we know why Dhoni is Dhoni. He trusts his teammates. And so he chose Bumrah. And the 19th over was an absolute beauty! All 6 balls were yorkers!! Spot on!
Now the equation stood at 11 runs from 6 balls.
Enter Hardik Pandya. Yet again, Dhoni’s choice bamboozles me. A fast bowler for the final over? Will he be able to deliver under such pressure? So many such thoughts. And the 20th over starts. There is a huge discussion amongst the Indians. Nehra, Ashwin, Dhoni- everyone seems to tell Pandya what to do.
He bowls the first ball. A single. Ok. Job well done. A good way to begin the over. The equation- 10 from 5. Hmmm.. it’s gonna be tight. Ok. Another round of discussions. Pandya bowls.
And.. a boundary!!
Just when one thought things were going well for India!
Now what?! 6 from 4!! And guess what happens in the next delivery? Another 4!! The Bangladeshi fans start celebrating already!
Now Bangladesh just need 2 from 3! And India will be ousted from the World Cup if they lose!
I’d given up hope. No, thank you. I’m going to sleep. Let’s switch off the TV. But my friends refuse. And the match is on.
An even bigger discussion this time. Pandya bowls a full-toss! Mushfiqur Rahim smashes! I swear and close my eyes. And I hear my friends shout! WICKET! And India comes back into the game!!
The equation – 2 from 2! Another big discussion ensues. Victory for Bangladesh still seemed within grasp. Pandya bowls. Another full-toss. And Mahmudullah, the danger-man smashes…. Straight up.. into the hands of Jadeja! ANOTHER WICKET DOWN!!!
What is happening?! Will India pull this one up?! Another discussion.. A very animated one, with Nehra saying something to Pandya and Dhoni. The equation – 2 from 1.
If Bangladesh manages a draw, we go into the Super Over. That’s what the plan must’ve been. Allow a single, but nothing more. Pandya gears up for the final ball. For the amount of pressure he was in, he still manages to smile. And he bowls. The ball goes to Dhoni, and the Bangladeshi batsmen run helter-skelter to score that one run to level the scores. But they have to get to the crease before Dhoni does.
Dhoni does an Usain Bolt!! And removes the bails! Another WICKET!!!
And.. INDIA WIN!!! By 1 run!! This is what is known as clutching victory from the jaws of defeat!! 🙂 🙂
I still do not believe we pulled that one. But yes.. We won.. Now this is what a Nail biting thriller actually is. Yes. Credit must be given where it is due. The Bangladesh players played well. But they gave away the game in the final over. Perhaps I can take the liberty to say- Bangladesh played well, but India played Bangladesh! In the end, it came down to who handled the pressure better.
What a match! This victory doesn’t ensure a semi-final berth. Neither does it ensure us the World Cup. But this victory will be remembered.. It will be remembered as the match where-
P.S. Quotes Source: Robin 😛
P.P.S. That I watched the match on Hotstar with a time-lag of 6-7 mins, cut off from the rest of the world is also what made the match even more interesting! 😉