An alien ground flooded with a screaming crowd, some steaming controversies, a battle of nerves and the ‘clash of the titans’. There was pressure to perform, a wish to dominate the situation and a dream to emerge victorious in this much-awaited face off. Indeed, this was the atmosphere marking the onset of the second final between India v/s Australia at the Brisbane Cricket Ground. It was the time to witness the concluding ‘nerve-wrecking’ or the much-criticized but yet the most loved matches in the history of the world cricket.
There was a hint of rivalry, a killer-instinct in the approach of the players coupled with some strategic play that made the game even more intriguing. With the toss of the coin going India’s way this time (….finally!!), the Indian Captain showed no hesitation in opting to bat. And, soon we had the Indian opening pair with a mission in sight, down there on the pitch judging the gravity of the situation. A lot of burden rested on the shoulders of the master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar to take the Indian team to a flier at this demanding circumstance. He had done it earlier (in fact, in the very previous match to be precise) and was determined to repeat that much-celebrated innings again with that firm mindset that he possessed. And it all fell in place for India as the opening partnership of 94 runs had set the tone for putting up a fighting total on board. Once again it was Sachin playing the mentoring role with his fine knock of 91 runs guiding the Indian innings with commendable support from Uthappa initially, continued by Yuvraj and finally Dhoni giving some final swings towards the latter part of the innings.
It was a run-chase that had many aspects to it. The initial burst from Praveen Kumar ripped off Australia’s top-order with Adam Gilchrist caught behind in the first over itself. Soon after Ponting departed for 1, attempting an unusual pull-shot early on to one that was straight from Kumar. So, with Australia 2 wickets down for 8 initially, it was turning out to be India’s game all through. But it was Hayden (54) and Symonds (42) that supported the stumbling Australian innings to bring it back on track or to say at a juncture from where the Aussies could think of a comeback! Carrying forward the legacy was Hussey (44) and Hopes who seemed like bringing Australia to terms with the enormous score ahead. But fortunately, it was Sreesanth who sprung back into action and dented Australia chances by getting Hussey caught behind. Eventually, it was the wicket of Hopes that submerged all hopes of an Australian win into the hands of the Indians.
These moments come hard in a cricketer’s career. It was not just winning a tournament overseas but outperforming the best (or should I now call the ‘second’ best….) team in world cricket on their home turf that began as a distant dream for Dhoni’s men, but it turned out to be a reality. India clinched the humdinger of a second final against Australia and with it, won the tournament for the first time in 22 years.