Sometimes it all comes down to one decision, just one knife-edge of a moment at which the past and the present fulcrum.
Should I say “I love you”?
Should I jump this stop sign?
Should I peek into my neighbor’s answer-sheet?
Should I attempt an Ashraful shot and seal the game?
Misbah-ul-Haq, after half an hour of near perfect batting, arrives at such a fork in the space-time continuum as Jogiya Khali-bali Sharma’s gentle offering comes down the pitch. He waits, judges the bounce and the pace perfectly and makes his choice. As the ball loops up taking the hearts of millions with it and settles down into pyscho Sreenath’s hands, one realizes that two weeks of frenetic cricket of the highest order, climaxing in a classic punch-counterpunch, nerve-knotting sporting spectacle between two teams neither of whom deserved to lose, has finally been settled and history created.
All because of one wrong decision taken in a split second.
And yet that cute shout could so very well have been the deciding blow. Which is where the monumental tragedy from the point of view of Pakistan lies—so deservingly near and yet so far.
But what the F am I talking about? Who cares about deliberations on how fragile the line between defeat and victory, happiness and sadness, sin and redemption is—screw it all… WE WON !
For today it’s simply “Chak de India” (and there was even a ghoulish-looking Shahrukh Khan to cheer us) . For today it’s sweet revenge for decades of Friday drubbings at Sharjah. Paraphrasing Chacha Nehru, there comes a time which comes rarely in history when India wins an international tournament, when the souls of fans, long suppressed by first round defeats and “the bad day in office” and “this is an young learning side” excuses, finally find utterance.
Which is why today I am going to scream. Jump about like a little girl on whose nose a flying cockroach has alighted. And give a shout out to anybody who will listen.
Dear Shoaib Malik. Firstly you are a very good captain and your English is better than your predecessor’s. But dude, you seriously need to understand that the Pakistani team does not represent all the Muslims of the world, as you so sagaciously pointed out in your presentation speech.
“First of all I want to say something over here. I want to thank you back home Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world.”
I understand the pan-Islamic sentiment that has been fed into your brain but here’s the deal. Look around. See the smiling Pathan brothers there—-one of whom strangled your team’s progress in the middle overs and the other led a rousing charge on your opening bowler. Tell you what, they also belong to the “Muslims of the world” and yet are deliriously happy at your defeat . Why wouldn’t they be ? They caused it.
Just as happy as many Indian Muslims are today all over the world at India’s victory.
Which is why it should be brought to your notice that Pakistan’s fan base does not cover Irfan Pathan, Yousuf Pathan and many other “Muslims all over the world” and so there is no need to “thank them” for their supposed “support”.
Let me say dear sir, Pakistan has always been my favorite team after India ever since I started watching the game. Though the way you guys wear your religion on your sleeve has often left me a bit queasy, your statement today just crossed the line, more so because it is soundbytes like these that are often twisted to imply that “Muslims in India cheer for Pakistan ” which as a generalization is about as screwed up as Michael Jackson’s sexuality. So kindly excuse my outburst —it indeed is a shame to have to bring all this divisive stuff into the mix on such a nice day. But you started it.
Dear Flintoff. Sledging and displays of aggression may be considered to be kosher in today’s game. However “I will smash your face, you wait” (which is what you told Yuvraj Singh) is simply a threat of violence which shows you up for what you are—a thug without an iota of subtleness (ability is another matter) who can keep doing what you do because the match referees do not mind such things as long as it does not come from subcontinental teams.
Of course, your behavior is a perfect fit for an English team of whiners, cribbers and jellybean throwers—-nothing amused me more than to read that one of the reasons England’s Twenty20 specialist side flopped so badly was because some of the top players like Collingwood had been away from their families for so long (which explains his escapades in a strip club perhaps). No Mr. Flintoff. The reason you lost was because you had Snape in your team instead of a certain Mr. Potter—-I would find that that easier to digest than the “away from home/too much cricket” justification.
Dear Aussies. Face it. You guys, for once, were outclassed. I know you are still the best but let’s do away with the “We do not take the format seriously” subtext of all your post-match press conferences—I am sure if you had won, you would not have been saying this.
Dear Kiwis. Am I the only one who feels that your entire batting order consists of clones who not only look like each other but bat exactly the same?
Dear South Africans. In a movie called “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” Madhuri Dixit wore an ornament which looked great on her. Its called a choker. It will look good on you too.
Dear Sri Lankans, What’s with the change in uniform? Why the light blue Team India-type look? Do get back to the deep blue uniform cause maybe this time God, who doesn’t see as good as he used to any more from way up high, got confused and thought you were India—which explains why you did not make the semis.
And finally Dear Team India. Thank you thank you thank you. For playing like an unit with each one covering for the other, for being fearless, smart and able.
And to you Mr. Dhoni—a bow of appreciation from a fan. You have been nothing short of inspirational (The two non-cricketing moments I shall remember from the final being Dhoni handing over his jersey to a young fan and helping him wear it and Irfan Pathan, perched on the shoulders of elder brother Yousuf Pathan—their faces glowing with pride)
Mr Dhoni we understand. It is not easy wicket keeping, strategizing, blasting deliveries to all corners of the park, praying that Joginder Sharma does not get hit for a six , hoping that Sreesanth does not slice a batsman with a pocket knife, while all the time carrying on your shoulders the weight of a million expectations.
But you have done it. And how.
I do not have $2 million dollars to give you nor a Porsche 911 (Yuvraj beware: Lalit Modi may try to pass off Kevin Pietersen’s used Porsche as your “gift” —to be fair he never said you would get a new one) as a gesture of my gratitude.
But my humble self can only dedicate a song to you—from the Bhojpuri Spice Girls. The lyrics of the song go thus :” Aare re nimbua kasam se gol gol, taneek kholke dekh raja” I have no idea what the song means or rather what the nimbua refers to ; it is just that the lines “ball-wa dabaiba to bara maaja aawe” seemed very appropriate for the country’s debt of gratitude for you.
Thank you again dear sir. Kasam se…. bara maaja aaye.
[Picture courtesy Cricinfo]