Back with a Bang

The life of commonality is an attribute of the animals. Humans, instead, are actuators of renaissance. Man was destined to be the supreme creature and he has proved his point on infinite instances, spread over a vast spectrum of time. The desire to shine above others was inherent in man since ab-initio and heroism is one such tool for the cause that has stood the test of time and ages.

Heroic deeds and legends have been trade-markedly associated with “the Knights” and the Knights of Kolkata depicted a similar portrait on last Tuesday night. Standing tall among all was the ace paceman Shoaib Akhtar, who cast a strong spell in the game. If phrases like “dark horse” and “down under” stir passion, then this player’s tale probably goes a step further. It is not easy on the international level of cricket to fight against odds. Those who have done it, have laurels against their names. Shoaib possibly did one such thing.

Having been put off by his board, courtesy some unacceptable behaviour from him, it must have seemed to him that it was ages since he last played After long deliberations of committees like the IPL board, BCCI, PCB, he finally got the nod to play in IPL. And he made the most of it.

A comeback from the grave controversies as the ones surrounding him was never going to be easy. In addition, he had another challenge to cope up with. Besides the mental and physical fitness, he was expected to put all aside and plunge into a flavour of the game he has never tasted. That must have been more daunting. Nevertheless, he did face it and definitely faced it well. His reputation of being the ‘hottest-to-handle’ earned him the first over, ahead of the in-form and lethal Ishant Sharma.

In the very first over, the dangerous Sehwag fell prey to some vicious swing balling, haplessly though. Since then, Shoaib never looked back. Ball after ball he kept stinging the blasters of the ‘Delhi Daredevils’. Not once did the Delhiites show the might to face him, let alone dominate. In spite of all the odds and setbacks, he was in the most lethal touch upfront his first over and banged in at a nifty pace.

He was clocking his usual best pace and becoming unplayable with each ball. Entertaining, as usual, he rocked the field with his arm and did not let Delhi off-the-hook even once. The ball swung, knit back, moved on and off the pitch, kicked high, and literally killed the batsmen in innumerous ways. In the sort of game, where the ball is seen flying round the field, this was one of the rarest encounters where it resided within the vicinity of the pitch.

In a small spell of three overs, he claimed all the four top-order players in a 20-20 game – an incredulous feat. His debut in the series marked one of the finest balling performances and earned him the ‘man-of-the-match’ with the first appearance of the series. Talk about comebacks, this was the greatest of many and deserves a mention. If not anything else, but the determination and self-belief is commendable. He truly set forth an example of international player in terms of the mental strength.

The ubiquitous laurels demonstrated his still-alive popularity and this innings probably heralds a season of blasting pace-balling, uninterrupted and unfailing.

Arindham Chakrovorty

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