It was big, it was spectacular, it was historic. Super Sunday- one day, two matches. Both finals. Both Indian teams. And both teams won – the celebrated Team India and the ‘under-celebrated’ but equally talented under-19 squad that took on the Proteas in the under-19 World Cup. I am an ecstatic Indian cricket fan right now! Actually, I am also a very happy cricket fan right now. The results notwithstanding, the matches themselves were worth a watch.
Post 20-20, 50 overs seem like a pretty long time. In fact for the India- Aus match, I did not even bother to watch the whole Australian innings after Hayden and Symonds started to build a partnership for the fourth wicket. Things seemed to be going the usual way- India getting early breakthroughs and letting the Aussies get the better of them thereafter. Its only when India’s run chase started that my interest in the match was revived.
The early dismissals of the openers checked my excitement. But by the time Sachin and Rohit Sharma (yes, the new-est find of the series) reached their 100 run partnership mark, I was in full spirits, cheering and clapping away to glory. Curiously the crucial run came of a dropped catch by the Aussie skipper and famed fielder Ricky Ponting. It was a difficult one, no doubt, with the ball whizzing past, Ponting could only get his fingertips to it. Poor guy, things really didn’t get any better for him or Australia. India were cruising along to the target of 239. The only worrying factor for India at that point was the groin strain that was bothering Master Tendulkar. His hops and skips while running apart, Sachin seemed to be in superb touch. Almost compensating for the threes, he was not running with the boundaries that kept coming at regular intervals. Rohit Sharma was complementing him beautifully at the other end, batting sensibly. Both the Mumbaikers seemed to be enjoying their time in the middle. Then came Rohit Sharma’s half century, a well paced and played knock. Of course Sachin’s century was something that the crowds were eagerly anticipating. In fact decibel levels reached an all time high, when Sachin reached the dreaded nineties. Especially dreaded for Sachin, who has missed out on quite a few chances of reaching this milestone in his past innings against Australia. Exactly why, became clear a few minutes later when Brett Lee was brought back into the attack, in a desperate attempt by Ponting to curb the Indian Cruise. The over began with a nasty beamer from Lee, which almost banged into Sachin’s head, inviting a reprimand from umpire Darrel Harper. Ponting defended his bowler, explaining something about dew making the ball slip out of Lee’s hand. Brett Lee’s apology and Sachin’s grace took the sting out of the situation, which given the history of the teams, could have proved disastrous for mutual goodwill. Though Brett Lee’s bouncers stalled Sachin’s run making, he couldn’t be stopped for long. In fact Sachin’s eagerness to reach the 100 mark was more than evident in his many attempts to run through for the all important run. When he did finally reach it, he couldn’t stop the fist from punching the air. As he later revealed, it was a special 100. Why wouldn’t it be? After all it’s his first against Australia (World Champions?) on their home turf! Unbelievable as it sounds, none of the 49 ODI hundreds hit by him have come against Australia, in Australia. Though his record at the SCG where the match was being played, has been exceptional; leading an enthusiastic fan to rechristen it Sachin Cricket Ground! Sharma’s fall to Australian pacer Hopes, a few deliveries later did give Australia some hope, but that hope was short-lived, as Indian skipper MS Dhoni walked onto the field and played a cameo scoring 14 of 16 balls, to lead India home to victory. A boundary to seal the victory in style…Far away in Kuala Lampur, the Under-19 Indian team also sealed their victory in style with … Bowling the South African batsman on the last delivery of the match. India would have won even if the last bowl had gone for a six; SA needed 13 runs on the last bowl of the 25th over. 25th over? Yes you got that right, the match had been affected by rain, thus according to the Duckworth Lewis system SA had to score 115 runs in 25 overs, after India were bowled out for a paltry 159 in 45.5 overs. I had like to share more details but like most Indians I had been watching the India-Aus match, and wasn’t even aware of this World Cup till the endless ads forced me to switch channels. Thankfully I caught the last few overs of the match, not to forget the winning moments. The sheer exhilaration displayed by the Indians really took my breath away. I was also taken by surprise when I caught sight of the portly figure of Dav Whatmore in the midst of the celebrations. It took me a few moments to realize that he was in fact the coach of the Under-19 squad (Does Team India have a coach yet?) All I can say is that Team India’s loss is another Team India’s gain. The Young Turks really have been performing well for some time now, or so the commentators informed ignorant viewers like me. India it seems has now won the Under 19 WC twice, the first time being in Sri Lanka in 2000. Kudos to the team! Not just from me and the whole of India, but also from BCCI (which incidentally will translate into Rs. 15 Lac for each player of the winning squad!) As for the oldies only the first battle has been won, two finals remain, for victory to be ours in the war. Well considering that India scrapped through to the finals of the CB series, while the Under 19 squad didn’t lose a game in the entire WC, it remains to be seen who makes the headlines tomorrow…Malavika Vyawarahe
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