Wednesday, 18 March, 2009
Last night I was in a big dilemma whether to wake up at 3am in the morning to watch the test match between Newzealand and India or not. That too I was still awake at 00:30hrs. But finally I've decided to wake up. I told my alarm to take care of waking me up on time. It's been a long time since India toured Newzealnd. Last time India toured NewZealand back in 2002-03. That means almost 6-7 years back. In that tour Indian batsman danced like snakes to the violent tunes of Kiwis bowlers. I remember watching the matches in Nizamabad bus stand at 8:30am, 5 hours after the scheduled starting time of the match. By that time Indians use to lose at least 5-6 wickets. Same in the case with NewZealnd too but they were just better than Indians and secured the series with a whopping 2-0 lead. There is not much difference between 2 and 0 but in a 2 match series losing it with 2-0 deficit is a big one in my opinion. In that test series only Sachin Tendulkar managed with 2 half centuries and no other Indian came near that mark. Shane Bond for NewZealand and Zaheer Khan for India were in good form. But as I said earlier Bond's efforts were little bit better than that of Indians. Overall that was a forgettable series for Indians and what remained in my mind was the NewZealand pitches. They are very different from any other pitches in the world. Very skiddy and variation in bounce often confuses the batsman. All through the tour Indian batsman struggled to score runs. Everybody's test figures(Averages) went down. Not only that series whenever India toured NewZealnd they came back with bitter memories except Mansoor Pataudi's team which won the test series in 1969-70, 40 years ago. After previous NewZealand tour Indian team and their attitude, winning percentage everything changed. Now Indians are in a winning spree in all forms of the game. They are 20-20 champions and placed in 3rd spot in both tests and one dayers. This time they came to NewZealnd as the favourites. Dhoni's men are in great form and they won the ODI series quite comfortably with the help of Veeru's breezing starts and dependable middle order. Tendulkar almost came near that impossible double hundred in 3rd ODI. His injury stopped him from finishing that feat.
So this time the situation is entirely different. Indians are on top and the expectations are different form this team. Before 2003 no Indian fan expected India to secure wins in Australian and South African soils. But after 2003 total scenario changed and Indians started winning away series also. Team morale, form of all players and Dhoni's captaincy doing wonders to the current Indian form. And India's new ball pair Zaheer and Ishanth are considered as the best new ball pair in the world. Munaf's consistency adds more depth to Indian bowling attack. Considering all these things I've decided to watch the match from very first ball. I wanted India to bowl first. because I know Indians can bat well and Batsmen won many matches for India. Now I want to see how our quality bowling attack can threaten NewZealand batsman. Now NewZealand conditions suits well to Indian bowlers than NewZealanders. As Dhoni never disappointed me in recent past, this time also he did the same thing which I was asking for. Won the toss and chose to field first. I am happy. Everything working out as per plan.
The match has started. Considering that all my room mates are still in their deep sleep, I've decided to watch the match without sound at least up to 5am in the morning. Indian bowlers are too accurate with their line and length and Kiwis batsmen are beaten all ends up. These beautiful deliveries are prompting me to increase the volume at least by one level. But could not do that because I need to understand other people's problems also. Then came the first wicket. I tried to increase the volume and even the level 1 volume was loud enough to disturb all my room mates. I said to myself control Rakesh control. Again watching the match with 0 volume. Second wicket came in very short span. meanwhile I heard alarm of my room mate who was supposed to wake up early to watch the match. But he was in deep sleep and the alarm's loud cry cannot show any effect on him. His alarm started snoozing and trying it's best to disturb his sleep. At the same point of time India got the third wicket and this time I've decided to increase the volume. I kept the volume in level 1. TV volume did the job of my friend's alarm and he woke up just 2 balls after increasing the TV volume. For me wicket number one!! After all that combined hard work from alarm and TV volume he just saw the score, asked me the details and went to sleep again!!!
Wickets after wickets made me feel like the guy who desperately wants to share the news of his result with someone in recently released Vodafone advertisement. I wanted to send mobile message to one of my friends named Srinivas, because he is the only guy in this world who can come close to me(can beat me some times) in terms of madness in watching cricket matches in very odd timings. But dropped my idea in last second because he is writing his semester exams and my sixth sense says he is still sleeping inorder to avoid preparing for exams. Indian bowlers decided to pay back for all my faith on them since last 15+ years. Everything was perfect but something was missing. Indian bowlers line and length was accurate and they are making NewZealand batsmen struggle hard to score each and every run. But I was looking for my favourite inswing delivery. Ishanth Sharma liked my idea and he came up with that perfect inswinger which came in to Ross Taylor and while going it took the offstump with it. Now I got everything which I was expecting from these guys. I said Thank you very much Ishi. They continued the form and finished the session with 6 wickets for 61 runs. What else can I ask from Indian bowlers? For the first time in my career as cricket fan I got the best gift from Indian bowlers. Those valuable 2 hours will stay in my heart forever and encourages me to support team India till my last breath.