WHAT A SEMI FINAL!
Rain, reduced overs, missed run-outs, dropped catches, mishits falling between three fielders, a marauding Brendon McCullum. Call it a choke or a rain hoodoo, South Africa will have to wait another four years to make the final!
Congratulations to the Kiwis but you have to feel for ABDv – if ever a man was willing his team to the final, it was him. He was everywhere, batting, bowling, diving, catching, throwing. But in the end, he was in tears. Big Morne was in tears. This is what the World Cup is all about – pressure, emotion, winners, losers!
This semi will live long in the memory of those that watched it. Hopefully AB & Co. will bounce back stronger.
Speaking about unforgettable experiences, here is Nikhil’s travel diary from India v. Bangladesh at the MCG. Thank you Nikhil for giving us a taste of what it was like to be there!
Nikhil’s travel diary – India v Bangladesh, 19 March, Melbourne Cricket Ground
So it finally arrived. The day of the quarterfinals. After a year long wait (having booked match tickets in February 2014), an agonising month of predicting, plotting and cheering, jeering and criticising (to make sure India was playing at the venues we bought tickets for), a week of backpacking around the Queensland wilderness with dingoes, kangaroos and adrenaline pumped Australian skydivers (all self inflicted but definitely worth it), the purpose of my trip to Australia was at hand…and boy was I exhausted!!
World Cup fever anyone?….please?
Australia is a funny place. On the outside it appears to be the ‘chill’ capital of the world and everyone seems to be relaxed about everything. Nobody really talks cricket on the street, the “what’s on this month” magazines prefer covering footie or local rugby league games as opposed to international cricket’s premier event, there are no Sachin Tendulkar posters on the walls (I may be getting a little carried away here) and certainly no old uncles spouting a series of endless anecdotes beginning with “when I was in my youth and Bradman was batting at the SCG…”. On the inside you can sense that the country is a volcano waiting to blow. Just like their cricket team, there is an inherent competitiveness in the average Aussie that never fails to remind you of the daunting prospect of playing their team in the semis. This clandestine but ruthless environment makes for a brilliant setting for a World Cup and is so vastly different from the mud-slinging, blue bleeding, boost is the secret of my energy endorsement fiesta that goes on in the sub-continent.
The MCG looms in front of you and needs 6 sets of floodlights to illuminate it. You are a liliput in the land of the Giants. The stadium’s location (with the famous Rod Laver arena as it neighbour and being surrounded by gardens and parks on all sides) appears to magnify the already massive structure. It is truly the Mecca of cricket, a giant marvel of sporting architecture that would’ve made the likes of Maximus (the non gluteus Russell Crowe variety), Spartacus and Marcus Attilus proud.
The “Very Talented” Exhibition
We arrived at the grounds, proudly sporting our India jerseys amidst a sea of blue (and green), the ardent Indian cricket lover inside me was asking all the obvious pre-match questions. Can beating Bangladesh be labelled as an upset? Was it fair to still refer to the Indian team as minnows? When was Harsha Bhogle’s next hair transplant appointment? If Sourav Ganguly is ‘Dada’ can his wife be called ‘Dadi’?
The answer to all of the above and to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything is of course none other than Rohit Sharma (sincere apologies to Douglas Adams and to ‘Deep Thought’, but you guys got it wrong).
We were all witness to the rarest of rare occasions where Rohit played calmly, didn’t throw his wicket away after getting a start, was fluent in his stroke making, tried his best to get out just when we needed him the most but survived (thanks to the controversial Rubel Hossain waistline no-ball on which Sheikh Hasina has views as well), and ended up scoring a crucial ton. Ironic that all of this nearly coincided with a solar eclipse ? You decide.
Here’s the celebration of his hundred!
The rest of the match went like clockwork. India started slowly, finished big and then proceeded to decimate the Bangladeshi batting with a quiet confidence akin to Rajnikanth/Chuck Norris vanquishing a group of gunslinging hooligans with a set of toothpicks. It would’ve all been a bit boring if it wasn’t for the quality samosas being served. They were awesome, made at the stadium and could easily put most street food joints in India to shame. I had one for each Bangladeshi wicket that fell until they ran out of stock (or cut me off because I was close to overdosing).
The Swami Army after party
A good friend of mine came up with a brilliant theory during the game. The moment any DJ plays “Mundiyan to Bach ke rahi” by Punjabi MC, every Indian’s arms are automatically raised by default into Bhangra position. We decided to put this to the test and found that it was true no matter where in the world a person is from, if there is even an ounce of Indian blood in his/her body, the arms are automatically up there swinging to the beat. The swami army after party at ‘The Hush Bar’ provided an excellent venue for our research (my fellow researcher, an ace litigator by profession, was unable to restrain himself and joined the Bhangra proceedings with a comical display that could best be described as a cross-breed between the Bharatnatyam and the Waltz) and also gave us a chance to catch up with our fellow countrymen to analyse and critique the performance of the men in blue over a few beers.
All in all it proved to be a fantastic evening with the assured promise of an even better Sydney semi-final.
You can read part 1 of the World Cup travel diary series here.