Thursday, March 26, 2015

World Cup Semi-Final: India vs Australia – How It Unfolded (For Me)

I am wide awake much before the usual waking time. And why not? After all not everyday in a World Cup semi-final featuring your team. If this is how nervous I as a follower feel, wonder what goes on in the players’ minds?

Start getting ready for office. I am not bunking work to watch the match? Why, because the team won on the days I went to work. So why jinx it? On the eve of the game I have changed my mobile wallpaper to the “BleedBlue” logo. My way of supporting the team. Meanwhile Star Sports has suddenly realized that there are other sports being played on this played also. And shows a montage of the coming live action from Football, Badminton, F1, Tennis etc. Actually a good line-up for any sports fan.

Toss Time: Australia win the toss and elect to bat India out of the game. But We Won’t Give It Back. The commentators are already talking about this game being a home game for India. Finally, we are realizing the virtues of a huge population and the brain drain. Any corner of the big wide world and you will find Indians, lots of us Indians.

Anthem Time: I sing along to Jan Gana Mana. There is no music more rousing than your national anthem. Can there be? During the anthem, they show the entire team, then the support staff, a few crowd shots and then the lone figure of Dhawal Kulkarni. A player who has been around the team for the whole World Cup but not officially part of the World Cup team. Wonder how must that feel. Binny, Rayudu & Axar also did feature in a single game but they are World Cup players while Kulkarni is not. Okay back to the game now.

1st ball – Shami misses the edge of Finch’s bat. And I am off to work.

I hear snatches of commentary blaring out from the shops on the roadside. They are discussing those number things which mostly do not make any sense. But its early part of the game, so the commentators need to be kept busy. On the way, twitter keeps me company. Finch seemingly in trouble but surviving. Warner looking to hammer them all away and WARNER is OUT. (yay 15/1). Smith joins Finch and the milking of the Indian bowling has started.

I have reached office in quick time. The traffic was much less than usual but more than expected. And went to my desk instead of going to the Food Court, where a big screen had been put up for the live telecast. There will be a time, but it’s not now.

89/1 (15): Not looking terribly good at the moment. Need wickets pronto. All online commentary channels have been fired up. I might be in office but being focused on the work seems highly unlikely.

132/1 (25): Expecting to chase 340 odd. Need wickets. Lots of them and fast. Steve Smith has hit fifty and is looking ominous. Finch has also reached a fifty now. [Aside - A home team wearing yellow had been utterly destroyed in the previous World Cup that I had followed. That doesn’t seem to be happening here].

155/1 (30): Old wisdom says you double the score after 30 overs. Post T20 era, you score 200 in the last 20. Whichever way its going to be a tall chase for India.

181/1 (33): Australia take the Powerplay early. And Steve Smith gets another 100 against India in the 2014-15 Season. Not good at all from our perspective. 

197/2 (34.1). And Smith is OUT. And Maxwell walks in. This could go anywhere now.
Maxwell threatening to take the game away. Lands a few hefty blows as well. But Ashwin has got him. We need a collapse like India’s 29/9 against South Africa in last World Cup. Umesh gets Finch. Are the Aussies collapsing? 235/4 (39). [Aside - Successfully postponed a bit off work which was threatening to come my way. Cricket and my nation need my undivided attention].

250/5 (43). Now Clarke goes. 42 balls left. C’mon India get those 5 wickets and maintain your neat wicket taking record.

271/5 (45): 5 overs to go. How much can they score? 50 more? We are still looking at a BIGGG chase :( The Aussies have been losing wickets at the death, very like India, but unlike India the big hits have kept coming as well.

328/7(50):Australia the first team to not get all out against India this World Cup. India actually need to tie this game to go through to the final. That would be FUN. 

Time for Lunch. The Food Court looks different. Its more crowded because of the game telecast. The openers stride out to loud cheers in the food court. Lunch is gulped down amidst oohs and aahs across the food court.

Haddin drops Dhawan? Has he dropped the World Cup. India breathes. And scores runs easily.

Back at desk. Dhawan out. And so is Kohli. And Rohit. Now Raina is out. Need to get away from the desk. This has been quite a wicket-taking spell. :(

156/4 (32): Rahane & Dhoni have been becalmed. Afraid the game is meandering away to an end. (179 off 108 balls). Well Played India. You had already exceeded the expectations.

178/5 (36.2): Rahane OUT! Suddenly work seems to have become more interesting. DRS used for the sake of using it by the Aussies and they get a positive result in their favour. Some days the dice just does not roll your way.

183/5 (38): It’s THAT Score. Now the question – Will we crawl to a defeat, a la UAE, or go out all guns blazing, like the West Indies? Prefer the 2nd option but Dhoni is playing like the first.

196/5 (40): 132 off 60 balls. Well-nigh impossible now. It has all gone down since Dhawan’s dismissal. Nothing much to write home about.

232/7 (45): Dhoni also gone. And the last flickering embers die out.

233/10: Its all over at SCG. Australia win by 95 runs. 

Brad Haddin did not drop the World Cup. Well played Australia!. Though methinks the country happiest with this result is not Australia but Bangladesh. Which reminds me all Asian teams knocked out of the tournament at the first possible opportunity.

India certainly exceeded the expectations by reaching the semis with a clean slate. It was a complete team effort with no individual standing out throughout the course of the tournament. Well Played. Team India. Thanks for all the entertainment.

Random Thoughts: Was this the last India game for Dhoni. What will we remember India's tournament for? How many casualties from this World Cup lineup. How different will the team be when they next take the ground. But these questions will wait. After all the World Cup final is still to be played.

And for me, I will finish off the pending work and go home. Also feel sad for a while. And then tomorrow is another day. After all one of the side-effects of growing up is that such defeats don't hurt for long, unlike earlier.

So off to the MCG. The Kiwis are waiting. This is their mauka for the first ever World Cup victory.

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