"The sad part in life is NOT the absence of background music as much as the failure to recognize times deserving it!"
On January 26th, 2012 I played one of the most awesome cricket match ever!
PDPU vs DAIICT- 2nd group stage match.
We had already broken a record of winning first time after 2007 outside DA-IICT against Institute of Hotel Management inside PDPU. We were up against the home team. Small ground. Without practice for the last 3 months.
I lost the toss and we field first. I have always been proud of my team, my men. Even though my opener, pace-head and vice captain were donated to Software Development, the team still looked good in shape. Bowling has been our strength since the start of the year. With more bowlers and all rounders than batsmen.
Spiral Model vs Sequential Model
I normally don't set full innings targets. I believe a game is won in spells. Its very much like accurate incremental steps are better than one big leap of faith. The pitch was new to us still and nobody had ever played against PDPU. I hadn't set a target in mind.
Fielding turned out to an unpleasant ordeal. Yash provided a couple of early breaks, but we never seemed to trouble the batsmen. They stuck. Neelim's swing wasn't helping much. Assisted by the short boundaries and the almost cement pitch, they hit our bowlers all over. Getting in a skidder, Shivan, in the middle overs seemed to slow them down for an over or two, but that proved to be an oasis. Moreover, my trusted first changes Kapil and Udit chose to disappoint me that day itself. The mat over hard ground only made Kapil's wides look all the more devilish.
The 5 fielders on one side rule restricted the fielding changes. no kind of bowling changes or field placement seemed to help. The flat and skidding wicket just sucked up all the variations. A simple flick of the bat was enough to send the commentator bellowing, the crowd jumping. Finally, it ended. We needed 143 in 15 overs.
We started the chase well. Om, Shivan and Prakhar played well to make a quick 40 odd runs but they fell to the pressure of making quick runs.
I come at number 5. Its one thing that I have learnt from the best cricketer I have played with, Rahul Jain. You need experienced people for others to rally around in the middle. The middle order is essentially a forte. You need either of the middle order batsmen to stick, to stand there. Partnerships are what win you games. Just like spells, partnerships are the intervals where the game is won.
A Boring Game Is Better Than A Lost One!
Whenever the game is getting too heated, doesn't matter you are holding the ball or the bat, making the game boring is your best option. After quick three wickets, the wicket was heated up on that prolonged winter day.
The bowlers charged up, the ball zooming and swaying in and out, the fielders chirpy, the crowd shouting.
The ball was coming too fast. My bat swing was too late. I hadn't batted in the last 3 months. Prakhar left, in came Soham.
I forget the exact figures now, but i think we needed 103 in 11 overs when me and Soham had just come in. It was looking bleak. The bowlers were all charged up. One pitched short, rose and moved away so gracefully, almost kissing my glove. The bowler came down and.. .. .. we had a small chat!
I started talking to myself. I was not giving this one up. We were NOT going to lose this time. These are among few times when I have been proud of the way I thought!
Me and Soham have had a lot of innings, for the college as well as our batch, where we have built partnerships. We walked down to the middle of the pitch after every ball and exchanged thoughts, bumped fists. I told him, We were NOT losing this one. Hang in there. Make it boring. Keep on taking singles.
The Silver Linning
In came the chatty bowler again. By this time, a couple of overs had passed with us making 6 odd runs.
The ground was small. The boundary behind the keeper was hardly twice the size of the pitch. These are times when the craziest ideas the most awesome ones!
The bowler was steaming down. Again tried to bounce me. Short pitch. I step one side. Loosen and change my grip. Wait for the ball to rise, lift my bat, duck a bit and help the ball in the air right behind the keeper. SIX!
Few things give you more satisfaction than a perfectly executed Marilliar's shot! :D
The Dam Break
Before the semi-finals started, one of the cricket co-ordinators, also their team member came up to me during the toss and said "You were excellent down there mate! That six behind was the turning point" !
I gave the strike to Soham. SMACK! SIX! Standing right there in the crease, he blasted the bowler straight down the ground. Next ball, SMACK! FOUR! This time he came down the ground, over the covers! Once bounce over the boundary.
The over finished and me and soham rammed our fists! We kept on reminding each other to be calm and not loose wicket.
We needed 86 from 8 overs. 58 from 5. 33 from 3.
I remember Shirali, our newly appointed Coach, coming to me after the match and saying "Hum log idhar pagal ho rhe the ye sochke ki tumpe kitna pressure hoga!"
Came out a flurry of fours and sixes. Soham destroyed everything that was bowled to him. He put the bouncers straight down the ground for sixes. He bludgeoned a good length ball so hard, it was hardly higher than my own height and still went for a six.
I on the other side, was regularly getting boundaries and sixes myself. I remember a fantastic straight six and two consecutive boundaries on mid-wicket! The small ground was helping us too!
The Rest.. is History!
24 from 2. 12 from 1.
My scoop down the mid wicket, and the straight six off Prakhar's marvellous bat was enough!
We ran like mad! Shouted like mad!
Soham - 49* (22)
Me - 30* (20)
Moral Of The Story Is..
It takes guts. I am proud of the innings I played. Sticking in during that early time and not accepting defeat was all that had made the difference! We both had kept our nerves.
More importantly, I want to highlight all the small things that made a difference.
Cricket, for good reasons, is NOT a boring game. It takes more thinking than most games. It takes understanding, wit and composure. It is a sport that truly deserves to be one.
I've faced this questions loads of times and I can only smile in pity at the people who say "I play football because I found Cricket too boring". Its not their fault, they never saw Cricket the way I do.
They never played Cricket the way WE did ..