The wife was on his case. He had been ignoring his daily rituals for quite a long time now. He was found glued to the television for hours at a time, the morning-walk had literally gone for a walk, the eating hours be damned – this was the time for grab food – junk or healthy did not matter – and rush back to the screen before the commercial break ended. To the consternation of his wife, he increased the volume once again:
Two hours back, I was preparing for an early dinner and sleep. Who would have thought that India could take the fight back to Pakistan after being 6 wickets down in 13 overs. 300 is not a small target, and Rohit Sharma and Irfan Pathan have scripted an amazing comeback for India, but the work is yet not finished.
Ya, especially after that fortuitous run-out in the last over. Pathan would have been very tired after running for more than 2 hours and that tiredness showed when he was going for the third run. It all boils down to this – 10 runs needed in the last over with three wickets in hand to lift the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Listen to the crowd; I believe that entire Mumbai would be able to listen to the Wankhede right now. I am surprised that the batsmen are able to hear each other’s calls for runs. And now it looks like that Shoaib Malik has decided on the bowler, it is going to be Umar Gul who has been entrusted with the ball.
“Ohh, I wish Sharma had taken that risky single on the last ball. Now Piyush Chawla will have to face Gul”, he said to no one. The wife had just gone out to get away from the incessant Cricket that had been residing in their house for the past month.
That’s a good yorker on the toes by Gul, Chawla does well to survive. So the equation stands at 10 from 5.
“I should not have bet so heavily on India lifting the World Cup”, he rues – maybe a tad too late.
Gul initial burst of the four wickets was the impetus that Pakistan needed, otherwise 300 from 50 overs on this featherbed of a pitch was easily attainable. Gul runs in, this time it is a quick single to mid-off. Sharma on strike, that is what India needs. 9 runs needed from 4 balls.
India desperately need a boundary. Knowing India and Pakistan’s fickle tendencies, I am sure these 4 balls would make or break many careers. Can Rohit Sharma save his career? Oh yes, he seems intent on doing so. That was a glorious hit, an inside out lofted shot over extra cover. It was pre-meditated, it was risky, but it paid off. Now 5 needed from 3.
“Maybe I’ll win after all. With the odds I am sure to get at least 4 times my wager”, he exhorts India, and there are more than some selfish motives.
Malik just had a long talk with Gul, if I were Sharma I would love to know what conspired between them. As the field settles, Gul starts his run-up and it’s a very well disguised slower ball. Sharma reads it at the last moment, and is just able to push it to mid-wicket, another single and the equation reads 4 runs needed from 2 balls.
“Come on Chawla, now you are the one who can save me from bankruptcy”, the restlessness was showing on his face. Panic had him in its grasp.
Till date none of the World Cup Finals have reached the stage where the decision is clinging on to the last over. This is reminiscent of the 2007 T-20 World Cup Final, where Misbah had found Sreesanth with clinical precision to hand India the first T-20 World Cup.
Gul goes round the wicket to the left-hander. Gul trying to change the angle, and that is very intelligent from Chawla – he shuffles outside off, and glances it towards the fine-leg boundary. A tumbling stop there, and Sharma wants a third. Chawla rightly sends him back, Sharma just makes his ground.
Two runs from the last ball. Either Gul, or Chawla would be a hero tonight.
His eyes are clenched shut, he is shaking, and he is quickly muttering the Hanuman Chalisa under his breath. A tensed mind is most prone to remembering the God.
Malik has a long chat with Gul, and so do Sharma and Chawla. Sharma points out all the gaps, but to Chawla I am sure, they would seem miniscule. The umpires intervene saying that it’s a long time; let us get on with the game. What would it be? An Indian victory, Pakistan victory, or a tie? Let me pull up the rules and check what happens in case of a tie.
Search for the rules later, the fielders are set, Chawla is on strike. Listen to the crowd, I can hardly hear anything. Gul is steaming in; it is a short ball – hurrying onto Chawla. He swivels and somehow gets his bat on it, the ball has gone high in the air, Malik is trying to settle under it, but the swirls are making it difficult for him. Sharma and Chawla are running hard, praying that Malik drops the catch; they are going back for the second. Everything depends on Malik now, he settles under the ball and he pouches it neatly. The Pakistanis have clinched…
He did not hear anything else, he was just feeling very tired. He felt he just had a mile long swim and was now drowning. He was unable to breathe; it felt as if someone had put a big weight on his chest. He was gasping for air, he could hear anything, but the eyes were still glued on the television. The last thought that flitted through his consciousness was, “Why is Chawla jumping?”
Can you believe the drama here? Gul has over-stepped. It is a no-ball. No body heard the call, not the batsmen, or the bowler. But the umpire’s arm had gone up instantly. It is not Pakistan, it is India who have clinched the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Chawla is jumping up and down, everybody is trying to catch Sharma but he has gone on a victory lap at his home ground all alone. The crowd is still in a daze, wondering what just happened…
He thought he died a pauper, instead he died a millionaire.
P.s: Post # 300