Fate's a playmaker
Briefly before even getting into the event that brought an unanimous "F#$%" from ten people's mouth at the same microsecond, let me give a pre-event update. After the tournament poll shooting another possible encounter of UKCC vs CCC in the finals, we set forth in our prequarters to play the bowling attack filled Everest Cricket Club. 9 overs into our innings, we lost all our three powerful yet sensible hitters and a rotater for 46 runs. The new captain 'darling Tesa' who on the pitch, pushed the 'old work horse - a.k.a Musaloda', me, at fourth down. With an average of under par 10.5 from four games with an average strike rate of under 95, and being the first away game of the season, I knew that this is a critical game. There is no margin for error being a knock out game.
93 runs of partnership later, darling walked back to the pavilion with his first 55. He - the new captain and the I, the ex-captain together scored 22 of the 93 partnership in boundaries. The rest of the runs came in running between wickets in 7.4 overs. Well, to be lucid, we ran five three's and fifteen two's during the innings. 18.3 overs down, my chicken run buckled under lactic acid accumulation in my calf muscles and I died running. I was retired hurt at 35 huffing and puffing as I walked back with my shivering feet. We finished at 154 in 20 overs. The youngsters knew what running between the wickets meant after seeing the old me and the active Tesa.
Our bowling was meticulously beautiful making us believe that we've won the game comfortably after the first five overs itself. Then came Larry - the mercenary from West Indies. With 13 clean sixes clearing the ropes by at least a 20 yards finished the game single handedly (more like Sachin in Sharjah) by the 17th over. This might well be my last T-20 game of my life :(.....
Anyways coming to the fateful coincidence, when Larry was batting with the equation stating 39 to win with 5 wickets in hand, I sustained a dislocated finger injury on my left hand. With pain filling my mind, I halted the game by a minute kneeling on the field pulling my finger to relocate the metacarpal. Another wide delivered by the fastest bowler, dived and hard stopped on the finger just exacerbated the injury. Chotu seeing my agony said, "Pads nikhaalo. Mein karoon keeping!" With no hesitation, I removed the pads and gave him the gear. As I walked to deep square leg, I was worried on the decision to give the pads to the child prodigy. I was not happy about not thinking twice though I was in pain. I was uncomfortable coz I know I can still keep behind the wickets coz I was budding with confidence. Yet, I settled on the decision and waited for the next ball.
As the next ball being edged hard by the plumeling Larry, slowly dropping towards Chotu's hands, ten of us jumped in excitement believing that we are back in the game, and then we witnessed the most horrifying moment of the season. The ball just popped out of his hands and fell down. Larry dropped, and the next microsecond shock waved an unianimous "F#%#" from the field. Seconds followed after the curse with me throwing the cap on the field, cursing everything the way fate had played the coincidental part, how stupid I could have been in giving the gloves to Chotu at the most important phase of the game, etc. After I gained my composure, Ted Mosby ranted, "1 ball late Hari. If only you could have beared the pain for 1 more ball" to which I replied, "I know Sri. It's all f#$@en fate." and both smiled at each other the way we were failed by fate.
With captain darling watching the skies losing hope in spite of his hard efforts, and the team's vice Sri stopped encouraging the team, I had no other option but to break the promise of not guiding the team during the game so that the new captain and vice can learn the strategical art of reading a batsman. I ran from the ropes to darling, shussshed everyone else, and pulled the ball from his hands, threw it to my favorite yet inexperienced spinner - Rohit Jr and asked him to wait on the bowling crease. When everybody lost hopes, I had a word with Rohit Jr, asked him to close his eyes and replay the two balls I guided Kachra Karan to bowl by being behind the wickets. A personal joke brought a wide smile from the youngster, a nod of confidence in him and I knew 13 runs can be turned into a victory lap. I went back to the ropes, moved Ted to another spot, and yelled, "Roh. It's our day. Do as I said and we are towing the Lorry out."
Dot ball from Larry, followed by another dot ball. Roh looked at me. I yelled, "Just smile and bowl" and gave him a nod to go for it. A short ball angled by my smiling favorite spinner from middle to outside leg was enough to set the playmaking. As I had expected lambu Larry swept it towards deep square leg. 'Two steps to the right, and I covered the swing of the ball. My hands turned to buckets ready to get the catch. Confidence surged up like adrenaline and my ears stopped listening the yelling of a Caaaaaaaatchhhhhh from the few hopeful players. All my focus saw only the red ball coming towards me at a really fast pace. And from nowhere at the exact moment, the background cloud moved an inch and I was blinded by sunlight. There was no time to think about the playmaking strategy being ruined by the sun. I jumped blind, caught the ball one hand using my left. In the air, I felt the pain pulling from the stretched hand to the toe of my body. I landed with disbelief. I had my foot on the rope. Aaaarrrgggghhhhhhhhh yelled through my mind.'
Everybody knew that I had master-planed the whole process into making the clean hitter lose his wicket. I trapped him perfect. I read him good. There, I was squatting on the ropes smiling at Ted, Roh, Darling, Chotu and the rest of the team. Everyone laughed coz they knew that they were tricked by fate and not by bad playing. And they all knew how bad they missed me early in the game with their good mannered promise. Fate played its part in terms of sunlight and the injury. The whole team couldn't believe the way they lost today. A few players couldn't control their emotion. The next few hours of food and driving was crucial to keep the guys have their hearts back. By the time I reached my friends place, I knew that I did a good job in keeping the team smiling at the end. Now, with 20-20 done, we are taking a week break before practicing for the regular league. And for the first time in four seasons, I have a gut feeling that this team has all the fire and ammunition to run over the other big teams and names in the regular league. :-)
Just moments ago, I recieved an e-mail from the tournament organizing committee for being fair in blogging about the polls in their website. Now, with the loss, they want me to umpire the finals of the tourney. Yikes! the ice pack glued to my left calf muscle is leaking. Got to tape it and get ready for the next tourney. Wish me luck and wish that fate doesn't play make our future games. :D (PS - in spite of losing the game, I am happy to have witnessed such a magnificent player on the field. Good luck to the West Indian Larry too)