It’s still anyone’s game. The ball gets hit to the extra-cover boundary.
The second run is on. The entire country is on its feet channeling Rajesh Khanna’s ( Disco Dancer) “Ga beta Ga” in a collective “Bhaag beta Bhaag”.
And then the two teams draw apart. Once again.
A flat beautiful under-pressure throw comes in at the ideal height for the keeper. Typically Australia.
The Indian player running to make the crease decides not to dive. And gets run out by a frame. The match is lost. Typically India.
Haag beta Haag.
Watching today’s game was like walking through a time-portal. It was the 90s all over again. Australia power to a humongous score losing just four wickets. If you looked at the right hand side of the score-card and blanked out the left (i.e. names) you would be forgiven for thinking that Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Michael Bevan had been the batsmen.
And then when India bats, there is Sachin at one end, towering, imperious and carrying the weight of billions of people on his shoulders. And a few Mickey Mouses at the other. There is a brief Ganguly cameo. Oh wait that was Sehwag. Then there is a middle-order collapse—was that Azharuddin who just got flummoxed by a ball that jumped on him? No it was Yuvraj. Surely that cant be a Youngistan player who doesnt run covering the wicket from a throw but actually swerves away, in the process taking extra steps as well as giving fielders a view of the stumps, something that should be burnt into any international cricketer’s DNA as a “no-no”? Emm it actually is.
Is that Jadeja who commits kamikaze, ants-in-pants and totally loses the plot? Yes it is. Not that Jadeja. A new Jadeja. Same difference.
Is that thumping cover-drive punch from Sachin? Is it? Yes it is. Will it be curtains the moment he gets out?
It certainly will.
So there you have it folks. Another whole day wasted, like the many days wasted in the 90s, watching a game India manages to lose in the last over. Principally because in this decade, we are still decades behind Australia in running, fielding and finishing.
Okay maybe not wasted. Because we got to watch a Sachin master-class with some of his off-stump play being of the 98 vintage—his annus mirabilis. Yes we know. He could not finish it off. But maybe that was all for the better—–the rest of the Mickey Mouses did not deserve to finish winners today.
And so deja vu. Sachin Man of the Match, morose and disconsolate at the podium, accepting a prize for yet another superhuman effort with a touching “Playing for India has always been motivation enough” message, something perhaps a few of the IPL stars in the team need reminding. The Australian captain with a “We rule” smile on his face. Dhoni with the “Aaj haar” (defeat today) expression we grew up dreading.
The more things change the more they stay the same. Sadly.