The Indian team had found themselves in a commanding position to respond to the critics that, contributing in team wins matter more than their individual achievements. Today, it was the turn of Shikhar Dhawan to score a well-paced, beautifully constructed hundred and then hell broke loose. He looked restless after the hundred, and he made quite clear his intentions to score a boundary or play an aerial shot each delivery he faced. The best bowler for Australia, John Hastings came on to bowl his last over, Dhawan overlooked that fact, he didn’t change his tempo nor the risks. Against the run of play, he gifted his wicket away when India needed under run-a-ball needed and about thirteen overs to play.
MS Dhoni walked out to the centre instead of Rahane (owing to the finger injury he sustained while fielding), played the first ball without any drama and was out second ball in an attempt to upset the rhythm of the bowler by stepping down the wicket, only to edge it to the keeper. Two wickets in a space of three balls. Nervous moments and yet hands were far from pressing the panic button. Kohli was scooting along in another planet until that over, and within minutes he had to put the brakes and think about the game differently.
In came Gurkeerat Singh, but he was at the non-striker’s end. It seemed right for India that Kohli took charge of the proceedings. Nathan Lyon, who found no rhythm whatsoever in the match came in to bowl. Kohli blocked the first two balls before tapping one to the leg side. All attention was towards the youngster, and he nervously played out the rest of the over. One run added and Indian required 71 runs from 11 overs. India had to re-think their strategy and Kohli had to change his game.
It was in those uncertain minutes of play, Kohli became a Two-Face after having adorned the suit of Harvey Dent quite well.
Kane Richardson on a new spell, first delivery, Kohli spooned it to mid-off and got out of a nothing ball. Those hands started to inch towards the dreaded button as memories of Adelaide Test came to the mind. Will India lose this match in spite of being in a winning position? Another hundred for Kohli, his second in a row reminiscent to his twin-hundreds at the Adelaide test, which India lost. Jadeja joined the centre stage, and played out the over safely. 10 left and 67 runs more to win.
If you are an Indian youngster, you don’t get many opportunities to win it for your side. Gurkeerat lofted one of Lyon over mid-off. Before the heartbeats could settle from that adrenaline, he played a reckless shot and swept to get caught. He went and Rahane came in. Jadeja once again played it sensible and the duo scamper some quick runs. Scoreboard ticked along and the target was under sixty. They remained India’s last hope. Richardson steamed in for another over, and Rahane edged it straight to the first slip. He too left the scene in a hurry.
Now, it was time to press the panic button.
Another promising youngster, Rishi Dhawan joined Jadeja, and together they accumulated six runs of Lyon’s over. In the next over of Richardson, Rishi Dhawan hit straight down the ground for a boundary. Next ball, he pulled to deep mid-wicket for two runs. Nine runs from the over and one ball left, it would have been nice to get one more run and march towards victory, the newcomer had other ideas and he perished to another pointless shot. India, seven down!
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar looked out of sorts the moment he walked in and he was desperate to give catching practice to the men behind the wickets. He did, but Wade dropped it. Eventually, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar did edge and Smith didn’t drop this time. Umesh Yadav, the penultimate batsman, left the ball safely to the keeper and went wild the next delivery with a big heave, unsuccessful with the contact. He did it again in vain.
The writing was on the wall. It was just a matter of time, as people who believe in miracles also gave up hope and went about their mundane chores. Yadav out and soon Ishant Sharma. India all out for 323, falling short by 25 runs with four deliveries to spare.
There are different range of emotions, none of it positive that emerged from the Indian fans, supporters, even from the Indian captain while many talked at length about how we usually give up a good fight at the last hurdle. This is not the match to praise Dhawan or Kohli, for they did what any team does if they have to chase a big target. The heroes of the match – let them bleed for they must suffer and take it all in for this defeat. They knew about taking additional responsibilities and yet they floundered by those two shots that got them out. There is no shame in experiencing such defeats only if you are to learn from it and not repeat the errors.
Results don’t matter, they never matter – but the manner in which you approach anything in life matters, and cricket is after all an extension of our lives.
Two schools of thought dictate the way we view the game of cricket – one set of thinkers believe, this is after all a game, one cannot get too serious about the results as long as the efforts were not compromised; while other group believes one plays to win at all costs and must not give up till they achieve it. In case of India, I am not sure which school they belong in those last 13 overs.