MEN IN BLUE’s date with History !
THE LARGER THAN LIFE HOST !
Welcome to this part of the world where Cricket is ubiquitous and Baseball is in eternal oblivion ! The quadrennial event held by the ICC in chosen countries finally got a chance to come back to the subcontinent where it truly belongs to ! The act was complete when two other nations Sri Lanka and Bangladesh join hands to host a handful of matches alongside India. India’s neighbor the ever tumultuous Pakistan too was part of the hosting act but Ironically stripped off later owing to an audacious terrorist attack on the visiting Lankan Team (not exactly .. it was the foreign officials who were the targets and not the Lankan Team) who were left as sitting ducks by the Limbs of the Law in Pakistan !
WHO RUNS THE SHOW ??
It is as clear as snow that India is the FINANCIAL POWERHOUSE of Cricket. The men at the helm went to the extent that they said Asians (Read Indians !) control the game both on the pitch and off it ! This is by far the truth ! Nevertheless the ruthless with which Indian’s control the game was not in full display on the turf since India has has a single podium finish in the year 1983. And I was not even born back then ! Since its inception in the year 1973 Australians had won it four times ! “Can Indians stamp their authority this time?” This was the question on everybody’s lips !
THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF THE ODIs !
The ODI has been blurred by the advent of the variegate T20. The former is a heady mix of Sprint, Acrobatics, Throws and Power Hitting in a short span of 3 hours ! Add the Terpsichore of the scantily clad Cheer Girls , This exhibition of cricket has raked in a cult following throughout the globe in the blink of an eye lid ! No wonder why there is a hullabaloo every time the ball takes the aerial route or rattles the wood work ! The latter is a languorous 8 hours show which gets predictably soporific when it sails past the inevitable middle overs ! ODIs, the prototype of Kerry Parker back in the 90s , was an interloper for a damp squib (from a viewer’s perspective) called the Test Cricket , ironically finds itself exactly where Test Cricket was a couple of decades ago !Only an Indian victory in the final could secure the dwindling future of the ODI. The big question which was hanging like the Damocles Sword was – Can India do it this time ? Indians had another reason to touch the elusive Cup ! It was a Phenomenon called Sachin THE LIVING GOD Tendulkar ! The Men In Blue were bent upon rendering the Little Master an ever memorable farewell by winning the World Cup ! Can Sachin’s presence instigate the MIB to pull off the unthinkable ???
SEPARATING MEN FROM THE BOYS !
The Selectors headed by the loquacious KRIS SRIKKANTH under the auspices of the BCCI picked up an eleven which they claimed had the right mix of players who suited the conditions prevailing in the sub continent. Countless eye brows were raised when Piyush Chawla was included into the list of fifteen. This , according to the media was out of the blue and claimed that the lad sans the crucial element called the match practice could spell doom for India’s campaign ! The next shock was in store for a Bad Mouthed fast bowler named Praveen Kumar ! He , was in the list of probables and was soon forgot because of an injury induced hiatus ! Kumar could only watch the world cup matches from a hospital bed in England since at the same time he would go under the hammer for a nagging injury ! Luck eluded him when he needed it the most ! The team management was forced to select another born Test material from Kerala ! He claims he is a psychology graduate but shows no signs of even knowing the subject when he is on the field ! Yeah SREE the angry young SANTH’s World Cup dreams were dead and buried. His wings were clipped ! Albeit owing to his mother’s relentless prayers to Guruvayurappan , the lad was back into the eleven at the ELEVENTH HOUR ! At the camp the team kept the injuries at bay !
THE INITIAL PHASE !
Undoubtedly was a struggle. India’s strength lies in its batting. Even a kid is aware of that fact ! It clicked right from the word go. A century from VIRENDER i will never change SEHWAG and the DEBUTANT Virat saw India hustling past 300 in the opener ! They began against England from where they stopped against the Banglas ! Fielding and Bowling came a cropper in these two matches especially the latter where fortunes oscillated from one team to another in the matter of minutes ! These glaring mistakes were exposed again when we faced off against the Proteas ! What was a celebrated batting line up succumbed in the space of thirty odd runs ! It was a day when the Proteas forgot the C – Word and we forgot to apply ourselves into the match ! With an anemic bowling attack, a hibernating fielding and a self immolating batting line up India’s stint in the WC seemed too short !
CAPTAIN COMES IN !
Dhoni who has had a hush hush world cup with his bat threw the blame on the Batsmen for the fiasco against the Proteas ! He averred them not to play for the galleries. Dhoni and Guru Gary put on their thinking caps and decided to revive the dwindling fortunes of the team ! The eternal bench warmers of the team till then, Suresh Raina and Ravi Chandran Ashwin were given a look in in the next two matches ! The Pacifier in the team Sachin played his role to perfection. He made sure that the young guns were not saddled by a monster called PRESSURE. His words to Nehra , Raina and others stood them in good stead !
SWIM OR SINK !
Now that the Indians scratched past the initial stage of the cup, what awaited them was K.Os in the business end. Up in arms against them were the KANGAROOS who served a demoralizing defeat to the Indians in the 2003 finals. Motera was the venue ! The stage was set and the hopes of a billion nation was pinned on the MIB. The situation was SWIM OR SINK. And we sank the Aussies. It was a match when the three integral elements of the game showed signs of falling back into place. Fielding looked agile ! Bowling surpassed expectations ! Batting sprang back to life when it was badly wanted ! India was one mistake away from loosing the match against the Kangaroos. They did not commit it ! Yuvi and Raina saw India home ! We downed the curtains on the KANGAROO SHOW !
HOW INDIYeeeeeahhhh PAKed them UP !
Mohali was packed to the brim. So was the hope of India’s supporters. The Indian Juggernaut arrived at Mohali and the who is who of the Indian Politics , Bollywood and Glitterati were in full attendance. An important toss was won by MSD. Umar Gul who was till then rated as the most successful new ball bowler RAN INTO the MERCILESS SEHWAG ! Gul was ripped apart by the latter. An UN Tendulkar like knock by the Little Master saw India posting a competitive total. A moment of madness by HAFEEZ who could have taken the match away from India resulted in a run less stint for the Pakis. Misbah thought he had all the time in the world to finish off the chase. Umar Akmal departed after a small cameo. In the end the Pakis were bundled out by an inspiring bowling.
THE BLUE MOON DAY !
The Islanders or say the SRI LANKANs has been knocking on the doors of the WORLD CUP finals relentlessly. This time too the things were no different. With a legend called MURALI in their ranks who knows nothing but to spin the ball, a revolving door like DILSHAN , an on song TARANGA, a stinging MALINGA, wily SANGA, classy JAYA and the coup de grace Mathews in the eleven Sri Lankans fancied their chances to kiss the cup this time around ! That was not to be ! because the Indias had different plans in their minds ! After the DUBIOUS TOSS Srilankans decided to wield the willow. Zaheer’s precision denied Lankans room and runs. On that day not much went past the fielders including the ball. They pounced on everything. All this good work was eclipsed by JAYAWARDHANE’s timely century.
With a mammoth score put on the board to climb Lankans were brimming with zeal. They were more than willing to put the much vaunted Indian Batting Line up to test with their Toe crushers and Doosras. When the Indian innings was just a couple of minutes old, their openers succumbed to Malinga. Sehwag and Sachin were back to the pavilion in quick succession. What the whole nation witnessed from then on was a REVIVAL OF SORTS. Gautham , Virat , Dhoni and YUVRAJ stamping their authority over the Lankan bowling and taking home the fact that their batting line up was the most IMPENETRABLE in the whole world . Dhoni got back into his groove by a timely innings of 91. Gambhir with his 97 was the pivot on whom the whole innings was built on. The Srilankan bowling was tamed by the Indian batsmen who applied thought and built partnerships.
MSD BULLET INTO SRILANKA’S HEART !
En route to victory , the Indian Captain was puffing and panting. Nevertheless he hung in there making sure that the run mountain was conquered. It was a fitting finale to the run chase since the winning run was born from MSD’s bat. A towering sixer down the ground off Kulasekara his club partner. Dhoni’s sixer landed right into the heart of SRILANKA piercing it !!
A NATION OVER THE (BLUE) MOON !!!
After the winning run ! Sachin came down the steps of the dressing room.The rest of the team members followed suit. A school boy like enthusiasm prevailed on his gleaming face. The dressing room was drowned in hurrays of joy ! Gary THE MAN BEHIND THE SCENES Kirsten was seen looking and raising his arms heavenwards. Yuvraj , Harbhajan ,Dhoni and Sachin succumbed to tears ! Zaheer , Munaf and Sreesanth were seen giving never ending hugs to their team mates. Virat , Viru , Piyush, Sehwag and co. carried Sachin on their arms around the stadium meanwhile the beaming Sachin acknowledged the crowd with kisses and clamped fists. The players gave Gary Kirsten too a similar kind of ovation. The nation was celebrating. There were members from crowd who shed some tears along with the players. There were elated , jingoistic and on Cloud Nine spectators ! A nation was rejoicing……… India rained downed on SriLanka in Wankhade and thus 28 year drought came to an end !
THE BLUE EYED BOYS gifted our nation its own BLUE MOON !
A nation which was battered and bruised by CWG scam, 2G scam, unprecedented corruption and WIKILEAKS finally has something to cheer for !
We can bury the gloomy past temporarily and soak into the celebration !!