Oh what drama doth cricket produce.
A meager 133 runs to defend. The most successful opening pair of the tournament at the crease.
And running into bowl is a man rejected by his country as too undisciplined, too over-the-hill and just too wacko to warrant selection, a man out of competitive cricket for months and barely match-fit, written off and lampooned by most (and that includes me).
What happens next?
Virender Sehwag, one of the tournaments success stories, is taken out by a well thought out delivery that tempts him to attack but gives him no room to free his arms. Gautam Gambhir, orange cap wearing leading run scorer, refuses to play to the situation and tries to dominate with disastrous results. De Villiers receives the ball of the spell, a lethal short delivery that screams towards his visor and he can do nothing but awkwardly sky it. And then Manoj Tiwari, the home boy but not the home crowd’s favorite today, is blasted out by an express delivery that rockets onto his back leg.
Perhaps it was the crowd support, egging him on like they did to the gladiators of old. Perhaps it was the desire to show the world that he still has it in him to be the best. Perhaps it was the need to make his critics eat crow (and I am eating it as we speak). Perhaps it was something about the venue where he first burst into the limelight with two missile-like deliveries, one after another, to shatter Dravid and Tendulkar’s stumps.
Whatever may have caused this, make no mistake.
Shoiab Akhtar today gave the performance of the tournament so far. These were three overs of the best bowling one could hope to see, three overs of controlled but searing pace, aggression and intensity, three overs that showed the world what Shoaib might have been had he been able to keep his self destructive tendencies under control.
But then again, he wouldn’t have been Shoaib then would he?
And as it often happens, the Kolkata Knightriders rode the adrenalin unleashed by Shoaib , fielding like madmen (Dinda’s runout of Maharoof being nothing short of spectacular), blotting out yet another listless performance with the bat to keep their hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive.
Hats off Mr. Akhtar. You rule.
[Unrelated addendum: To all those demanding a review of “Jimmy”, I am yet to see it. Suffice to say, I shall review it when and if I grab hold of a copy]