With a Little Help from the Friends – II

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

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(Click here to read Part I)

A scene that will never be erased from my cricketing consciousness. With his head tilted to look up and behind, running away from the pitch for quite some time, with eyes perfectly focused on the ball in its downward trajectory, India’s greatest athlete took the catch which would have a huge impact on Indian cricket. Viv Richards c Kapil Dev b Madan Lal  33.

A fan jumps on Kapil Dev after he took Richards' catch. The whole of India probably wanted to, too.

War cries rent the air and we smelt blood along with the onions that my aunt was frying. Now, there was a chance. I being the historian and skeptic rolled in one said, “It is too early to say. Lloyd is still out there and he was the one who turned the match around in 1975 world cup final.” Generally display of such deep cricketing knowledge will be heard with great reverence but not that day. “Chup. India jeetra yeh match. [Shut it. Definitely Indian will win]” said Bujji. Others joined Bujji in guaranteeing an Indian victory and I, with my immense knowledge, was silent.

Then Lloyd was out. Even the skeptic in me became hopeful. “ab kya bolra re [What do you say, now?],” asked my brother Bachu. Before I could reply, Bala had discovered the secret to the recent reversal of team fortunes. “Hey Anand! You were standing when Lloyd got out, right?”. “Yes”, replied Anand without understanding the consequence. “Stand up now”, said Bala. “Everyone will be in the same position as you were earlier. Only then India will win.” Bujji immediately caught on and told Padmini, aka Paapu. “Move a bit right. You were sitting under that show case. Move, move.” And thus all of us were clinging to our position when the next ball was being bowled.

Bacchus went next and everyone jumped in joy, started dancing and hugging each other. It lasted for half a minute before Bala called, “Ok. Ok, that’s enough. Back to your positions.” So there were some sitting in chairs, some sitting on the floor and some standing.  Dujon and Marshall had a nice partnership going and it was frustrating us no end. Dujon fell to a strange shot and now everyone was converted to Bala’s logic. Wickets were falling not because planets and stars moved into their positions. They were falling because we were holding our positions! At this juncture, Karthik got up and immediately everyone shouted, “Sit down. Sit down. Don’t get up.” “I want to go to the toilet”. “No. Hold on for some time.” So enduring the dual tension of the match and his bladder, Karthik sat down.

Any new batsmen who came in looked like a match winner to us and I would frighten myself and others by quoting some vague statistics. “Derek Murray and Andy Roberts saved the game against Pakistan in 1975”, “Roberts and Garner had a last wicket partnership of 71 against us in the first match of this world cup” and such. (Typical reaction of an intelligent fan. You want India to win but you are finding ways in which India can lose. If India wins, everyone would be so delighted that they wouldn’t worry about what you had said. In case India lost you can always say, “I told you so”.)

It was down to the last pair of Holding and Garner, and even then it was hard to believe we would win it. Paapu’s mother called her from downstairs. Paapu was about to get up when the whole crowd in the room shouted that she froze in half standing, half sitting position, before Bala curtly ordered, “Sit down”. At the same time my aunt was about to enter the room. “No. No. No. Go back to the kitchen. Be there. You bring us luck by being in the kitchen.”  My aunt beat a hasty retreat mumbling, “You and your nonsense”.

The crucial wicket did not fall and a few runs were being scored. Every ball was greeted by Bachu with, “He is gonna be out this ball”, only to be disappointed. This time around Karthik caught on to it. “Bachu, don’t say that. When you say that, the wicket doesn’t fall.” Bachu was crestfallen. He didn’t realize that his utterances have been blocking a great victory. He kept quite now, but still no wicket fell. It was then that Bujji observed that positional change. Anand had shifted from standing on his right leg to standing on his left. “Anand, stand on your right leg. You were standing on it earlier.” “It is paining man.” “That’s OK” ordered Bala, “stand on the right leg” and looked around. He made Paapu move a bit left, Bachu a bit front, made me lean a bit more and made Karthik and his elder sister Geeta sit a bit closer together. After being satisfied with everyone’s posture and position, he himself got back to his original position. The last pair had added fourteen runs by then.

At the fall of Holding's wicket, the players run for cover

We were all back to our winning positions and watched with bated breath as Amarnath, in his typical, ‘I can’t make it to the bowling crease’ action bowled the ball which would beat Holding’s bat and catch him plumb in front of the wicket. The umpire’s finger went up faster than we could appeal. The whole country erupted along with us.

So the next time someone tells you that Kapil Dev’s team won the world cup in 1983 due to their talent, tenacity or anything else, tell them that one important ingredient missing in their tales is the fact that a bunch of guys in Boiguda, Secunderabad, kept their faith and their positions.

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Guest article by Suresh

Suresh is a freelance technical competency development expert in the IT field. A technologist who is more interested in things other than technology. Loves his music and blogs about it often. A standard sports lover who left his best days behind and still believes 80s were the glory days of cricket. Played cricket in his school and college days and has a couple of ‘paper scores’ to his credit, though he has no proof, having thrown those ‘cuttings’ away!