Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hammering I took to bring smiles to a billion faces!

It was the historical night of 2nd April, 2011. The venue was the Wankhede stadium of Mumbai and the occasion was the grandest of them all–The finals of the 2011 ICC cricket world cup. India was up against their neighbours Sri Lanka. Oh, by the way I forgot to introduce myself–Hi, I am the white, 5.5 ounce Kookaburra cricket ball which was the cynosure of a billion eyes during that night of 2nd April. The moment when the Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni walloped me for a mighty six over long on to win the world cup after 28 years has got etched in the minds of the cricket fans for decades to come and I am honoured to have been an integral part of the Indian cricket folklore.
I still remember, it was the 49th over of the second innings. India needed just 5 to win off the remaining 12 balls. There was tension all round; I could feel it. The Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara was juggling me in his hands. It was as if he knew that the end was imminent but he still wanted to delay the victory celebrations of a billion people. He was clearly in jeopardy. First he handed me over to the legendary spinner Muralitharan but it was not long before I quickly changed hands and was finally lying with pacer Nuwan Kulasekara. I could see that he was tensed. He was simply changing grips every time, clearly suggesting that he was in two minds. One minute he thought of bowling a toe crusher and the very next moment he wanted to send in a bouncer to surprise the batsman. Since those were the slog overs, I was clearly losing my shine, so the question of swing was out of contention.(Though reverse swing could have been an option). I was totally drenched with dew droplets which were making life hell for Kulasekara, but finally the pacer seemed to have arrived on a decision. Facing him was India’s batting mainstay Yuvraj Singh.
Honestly speaking, my heartbeats were increasing by leaps and bounds. I knew that sooner than later I was going to be a part of something special, a moment which I will savour throughout my life. The bowler was ready and so was the batsman–Kulasekara came charging in like a raging bull and surprisingly, pitched me on a fuller length outside off stump and I was, with great ease, squeezed out to point for a single. The scoreboard read- 4 needed of 11 with the Indian captain on strike. The heat inside the stadium was leaving the millions and millions of fans gasping for breath but the was just amazing. It seemed the entire nation was up on its feet to witness “History In The Making”. Facing Kulasekara was captain cool MS Dhoni. In came Kulasekara and once again pitched me on a fuller length and finally the moment of joy arrived–MSD sent me flying over long on!
The shot was indeed awe-inspiring and more than anything else made me feel so proud.
Mahi Way
More than a million people had tracked my trajectory past the dark Mumbai skies which were minutes later going to explode into a kaleidoscope of colourful fireworks. My perpetrator MSD, adorned this historic shot with what will forever be a defining image of India’s victory: “The Twirl”. A shotgun swivel of his bat.
I was overwhelmed by the response I got in the stands–everyone out there wanted to have a feel of me. One minute I was lying in hands of a fan who, with a grinning face, mugged at the nearest TV camera and the very next moment, someone was giving me an affectionate rub against his jeans. I still remember, there was a young lad who took me in his hand and got a picture clicked by what seemed to be an Iphone. All the while, I was ecstatic-just ecstatic. After having been beaten all over the park by those powerful willows of the star batsmen, I was completely knackered but the love and affection of the die hard cricket fans pumped a breath of fresh air in me.
To be honest, MSD’s innings that night was just beyond words–An extra-ordinary sequence of shots where he pulled me, nudged me around and finally walloped me to get the team past the finishing line. It was the experience of a life-time. Not many get the chance to kiss the beautiful willow of Sachin Tendulkar, but I was lucky enough, though I was shattered when I became his nemesis. That said, the next morning the world woke up to a new World Champion team and the image of MSD hitting me over long on had embellished the front pages of every newspaper and brought to end an arduous wait of over 28 years. I had found a special place in the hearts of a billion cricket fans and that itself was a huge personal achievement.
And what happened to me after the 2nd April night? Well, I found a place in the coveted auction list of the ICC and was priced at a whopping rate of close to 21 Lakhs-(But I always felt I was priceless and am sure all of you would second my opinion-won’t you?). I was presented to the winning bidder in a beautiful timber presentation box accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from ICC. This was my journey–A journey which will forever be remembered for its sheer historic importance. Thank you MSD and team Indiaa for making me feel so special!
Avi for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Avi on Twitter @KnightsDen

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