One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

In the World Cup special edition of India Today, Rahul Dravid has written an article that gives us an insider's view of that wonderful match at Lords last year, the Natwest Trophy final, when the Indians successfully completed a dream run chase against England. I reproduce excepts from that article...
England have made 325. The mood is subdued, a case of "here we go again". It appears another final is heading for a disappointing conclusion. We lost in Harare, Sharjah, Colombo, Johannesburg -- it is a long list and a heavy burden.
Haha! ... for all the bravado in public saying that losses in finals do not matter to us, the Indian team does feel the pressure and the burden of that shameful statistic.
Ganguly gets the guys together for our customary team chat and says, "Let's give it our best shot. Look for 100 in the first 15 overs and take it from there."
Attaboy, Cap'n!! ... that's the way to go!... Nice pep talk!... It worked!!
Viru and Ganguly set off at a frantic pace and it is amazing how swiftly the mood turns upbeat; there are smiles on faces and endless chatter in the room. "Great. Now we can get 120 in the first 15." "No, let's keep wickets in hand." "C'mon Viru, take it easy, not that shot." "Abhi Dada maarega isko sar ke upar."
Well, they're not the only ones who started smiling and chatting when Viru and Dada blazed off to a great start. Millions of Indians watching the match did just that!
It is too good to last. Saurav and Dinesh Mongia return quickly. The silence returns, settling like a shroud. The next few overs leave us gutted. Viru, me and Sachin gone. Some think we panicked, but the batsmen don't say much, they sit quietly reliving their dismissals a hundred times.
Yuvraj and Kaif begin mission impossible. The mood lifts, the anticipation returns. The advice to the two batsmen -- as if they can hear every word shouted from the dressing room -- is relentless; "well played", "look for the gaps", "run hard".
As the partnership builds in the middle, nobody moves from his seat for the fear of "changing the luck". Any attempt to shift position is met with shouts of "get back to your seat" or sometimes the more threatening "better get back or else...". Sehwag is lying on the floor watching TV and he hasn't moved; Tinu watches the game from the corner window.
Didn't I tell you... this was an insider's view??
We are getting there -- the run rate is manageable. These two young boys are becoming men before our very eyes. The crowd sense they are watching something special.
Disaster strikes. Yuvraj is gone. On the balcony our faces are long in disappointment. Everyone has an opinion -- from "yeh shot kyon khelta hai" to "single lena tha". But when Yuvraj enters we give him a rousing ovation, acknowledgement of a job well done.
But it has to be finished. Harbhajan is our hope. He goes out with words of encouragement -- "C'mon, you're the man" -- to join a remarkably unflustered Kaif.
... Bhajji and Kumble are dismissed. But it is not over yet. Ashish Nehra sitting padded-up in the dressing room, is assaulted by advice from everyone around him. It's enough to confuse a regular batsman. What must it do to Nehra? We, Nehra included, are too charged up to care.
Kaif hits a crucial four off Gough. Then he and Zaheer scamper through for the winning run. There's pandemonium in the dressing room. We all hug each other before racing down the steps, through the Long Room (what must have the members thought?) and on to the ground for a long and boisterous celebration that last well into the night.

Amazing, wasn't it?!! ... And come to think of it! ... I missed watching it live. I was in a place where unfortunately there was no TV... only a radio and my trusty Nokia. Regular updates on the radio and frequent checks of the score over the cell-phone were my only means of keeping track of the match. And I came to know that India won, by the bursting of crackers and the shouts of joy in the streets. It was a truly amazing win!

I have mentioned this win and Dravid's account of that win because it fills us with optimism that Indians can do it all over again in the world cup! And after the horrors of New Zealand, we do need ll the optimism we can have!!

Best of Luck India!!

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