What put, Cricket-crazy Indian fans like me, in an offbeat mood, was the shameful defeat of India against Australia in the first test match of the series. The Indian players were marred with demeaning cuss words. But soon enough, the painful memory of the loss was left in the last year, as the world gracefully slid in 2008.
All were looking forward for Wednesday, Jan 2nd, when the India-Australia second test began.
What started as a perfect day, for a match between two of the greatest teams in the world, actually held seeds of hopelessness, hatred and a lot of un-cool decisions.
The Indians looked marvelously well in control with Australia down for 2 off 22. And then, one man turned the game! True, Brad Hogg and Brett Lee shot some brilliant half centuries, BUT a smashing 167 not out by Andrew Symmonds turned the tables on us Indians. And, NO, he wasn’t the one who took limelight for the reversal of the game, but, one ‘daring’ west indian, an umpire Steve Bucknor.
Symmonds who was dismissed 3 times by the fiery Indian bowlers, was never given out and continued his blitz-krieg. On one such occasion, he had snicked the bowl by Ishant Sharma, directly into wicket-keeper Dhoni’s hands. The Indians were rejoicing, the commentrators were exclaiming, but only Bucknor remained unruffled! Symmonds was playing on 30 at that time. Imagine, what the state of Australians would have been, if he had been given out then……. Inspite of Hogg’s and Lee’s heroics the next day, Australia wouldn’t have crossed the total of 300.
Later, even Symmonds agreed that he had indeed snicked the ball and for the very first time in the history of the game, a batsman “thanked” an umpire for his achievement.
The Indian cricket board, was furious. They thought, Symmonds should have showed some sportsmanship and should have walked away .
What an expectation! Since, when did the Australians become “team-players” ? I doubt, whether anyone understands the spirit of the game, as well as the Indians do!!
The aftermath of this episode, was the furore that followed. The ICC president Malcom Speed later announced the new rule, twisted in order to benefit the players. It has now been decided that players can appeal directly to the third umpire, if they are not convinced with the field umpire’s decision. This is a positive change and surely, Sachin Tendulkar, will get the most benefit out of it. After all, he has been mis-judged out several times . 🙂
Anyways, Australia piled up a total of 463 runs by the lunch time of second day and finally, India came to bat.
Yet again Steve Bucknor played tyrant when he judged Wasim Jaffer out on a clear-cut no ball.
Struggling to keep up with the Australian bowling attack, the Indians managed to hold fort and the by the end of second day, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar remained not out. Earlier, Laxman and Dravid put on a solid partnership and helped India elevate to a competent level. Dravid did a snail-paced yet useful 53, while Laxman, seemed to be playing an ODI, with an amazing 109.
But, with 3 wickets down, India still needed to do better.
A new day began. Every Cricket fan hoped that this would be the day, that Sachin would get that elusive ton finally! But, wickets were falling steadily. Ganguly did hit a fabulous 67 but Yuvraj and Dhoni failed miserably. And, Sachin was slowly progressing from a quiet 84 runs, with Harbhajan Singh keeping him company and hitting glorious shots.
Sachin edged towards 98 and the tension was obvious. Billions of Indians and Cricket fans all over the world were silently praying that he sails through that ton. Suart Clark’s over began. Sachin let go of the first 3 balls and then on the fourth, he hit hard. He tore his way across the pitch. Only if he took a quick first run, he could try for the second. And, he did. Everyone was cheering, clapping. He himself looked happy beyond imagination. As soon as he removed the helmet and looked skywards, praying and thanking the almighty, the crowd rejoiced. The jinx was broken and he proved, yet again, that he is and will always remain, one of the best batsman, this game ever produced……..
I know, if India wins this match, it would be a double-bonanza for all. But, even if this match draws, cricket enthusiastics would still be happy that their ‘God’ Tendulkar, finally gave the new year a befitting start .
I pray and hope, everything goes right for Tendulkar and India all throughout the year.
As for Bucknor, well, each man has to pay for his sins, at some time in his life. Let this match get over, and it will be seen, it’s his final one.
And, for his own safety, I hope, he never places his foot on the Indian soil, because we Indians can be exceedingly humble with hospitality, yet can turn into blazing fires, when we are enraged!!!!