Sunday, June 20, 2010

Badlaa!!

Chapter I

18th April, 1986. It was the Australasia Cup final.

I had just returned home from school. We had amassed 245/7 with Srikkanth, Gavaskar and Vengsarkar all scoring 50s. Chasing a steep target by those days' standards, Pakistan were losing wickets on a regular basis. No one had gone past 36: no one but one man, who raced through the 70s, then the 80s, then the 90s, then reached three figures as wickets kept falling around him.

It had come down to the last over. He was still there, and how I hated his very presence at the crease at that age! And then I realised that the inevitable had happened - Kapil Dev had miscalculated again (haven't we got tired watching him do that, time and again?)! He shall not bowl the last over!

So Chetan Sharma it was. Kapil didn't trust Shastri with the task (after all, this was the 1980s, and spinners rarely bowled in the slog overs, let alone the final one). Pakistan needed eleven, and he was on strike.

Wasim Akram, later to go on to become a legend of the game, managed to get run out the first ball of the over, possibly while returning to the non-striker's end while attempting a two (writing from memory this is what I remember). Ten to score off five now, with only two wickets in hand, but then, he was back on strike.

It was a slog-swept four, an inevitable one. Six off four, and I was starting to get certain that he would finish it with another couple of blows.

And then, Javed, oh Javed, how could you do something this foolish? He swept the ball towards fine leg and scampered through for a single, and the whole nation erupted at the prospect of having the meek Zulqarnain on strike. Surely he cannot give back the strike to his superior partner immediately?

Chetan Sharma then did the unthinkable - he clean bowled Zulqarnain! Five from two, and surely the last wicket cannot pull this off?

As the Lionel Richie lookalike Tauseef Ahmed walked slowly towards the centre, evening had set in quite comfortably in my city. I wonder how many people in the country moved from their TV sets that day. None, I presume.

Tauseef managed a single off the fifth ball.

It was left to Javed, then. He had to hit another boundary.

I wonder what he was thinking at that moment.

Chetan Sharma's run-up seemed like an eternity. He ran in, ran in, ran in, and...

... it was a full-toss.

And it was dispatched mercilessly.

For a six.

Miandad ran frantically towards his team.

Suddenly the world turned dark, cold, cruel, harsh, brazen. With that one single six.



***

Chapter II

19th June 2010. A league match in the Asia Cup.

Chasing 268 under lights was always going to be difficult at Dambulla. Gambhir and Dhoni, however, had put us on track. As Gambhir fell trying to steer a straight one from Saeed Ajmal and missing the line completely, I left office. I had to pick up some grocery on my way home, so I lost out on some crucial time.

As I tuned to Neo Sports I saw Jadeja getting bowled by Ajmal. Would you believe it? 88 from 87 with 8 wickets in hand had suddenly been metamorphosed to 49 from 29 with 4 wickets in hand. But then, hang on, a small square at the bottom right said P3, which meant that the third powerplay was on. Hey, it's still possible then, correct?

There were no more wickets lost, and three more sixes, two by Raina and one by Harbhajan, took us to a target of seven from the last over (it was seven off eight at one point of time, but Harbhajan had missed two short-pitched deliveries on the trot from Shoaib Akhtar).

Mohammad Aamer would bowl to Suresh Raina.

Raina hooked, someone shouted "catch it!", but the top edge fell towards where short fine leg would have been, beyond Kamran Akmal's reach. Single. Six off five now.

Harbhajan played. And missed. And... hang on, why did Kamran throw down the stumps? Why is he celebrating? Hell, Raina ran! And his dive couldn't beat the direct throw - and he's actually short... we're left to score six off four now, that too with the new batsman on strike.

Praveen Kumar played it towards deep third man, and yayness! Akhtar has fumbled!! They scamper through for a second as Afridi and Aamer are livid at the Rawalpindi Express!

Four from three now, and Praveen played the next one towards deep point to get another single, which left us with three to get from two.

Aamer bowled. And bowled in the slot. And Harbhajan hit. And hit it hard. Hard enough to soar over the boundary ropes past deep mid-wicket.

The entire Indian team rushed to the ground as Harbhajan was on one of his typical emotional orgasms on ground.

Suddenly there was light again, lots of it. With that one single six.

It took us 24 years. But it has happened at last. We've avenged Sharjah.

7 comments:

  1. besh laglo!! ekdom cinemar moto kore flashback aar present niye likecho!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. trust me, it gave me goosebumps....!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Coolest!!
    Harbhajan used to watch Amitabh's revenge movies during his school days I am sure.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bhajji r theatricals nea kotha hobe na...
    but i agree that particular win for India was sweet. bisesh kore majhe "jhulea" debar por

    ReplyDelete

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