A postcard from 8 years ago

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Where were you on 24th September, 2007?

I stepped into office with trepidation, counting the minutes till the start of play. Back then, T20 was a new concept. Cheerleaders. Booming music. Bumble’s high strung voice still rings in my head.

India won the toss and elected to bat. Where would we all have been without online cricket feeds? Yusuf Pathan opened the batting with Gambhir but was dismissed soon after smacking a massive six. An encore was expected from Yuvraj but it all came to naught and he was dismissed for 14. Dhoni, the freshly minted captain who sported a long mane, walked in with the intent of setting the scoreboard on fire. He’s clean bowled. Gambhir was the lone ranger, scoring 75 off 54 balls. The scoreboard ambled on and settled at a tepid 157.

The roads bore a deserted look and I had roughly 15 minutes to rush home before the start of the second innings.

Pakistan began disastrously with Mohammad Hafeez falling cheaply. Kamran Akmal fell soon after and then in came Sreesanth, who threatened to derail it all by giving away 21 runs in his first over. But Irfan Pathan and RP Singh struck quick blows and Pakistan was reduced to 78 for 5.

Would it be declared a national holiday if India won?

Shahid Afridi took strike and holed out in the very first ball. The sound of crackers being burst shook up the quiet September night.

And then, along came Misbah-Ul-Haq.

When all seemed lost, he struck Harbhajan Singh for a 6. What harm could one 6 do? Then he struck another 6. Now my pulse rate was on the ascent. Then he struck a third 6. The equation now read an uneasy 35 off 18 balls. Still a bit of a do. That’s until Sreesanth came back into the picture and gave away 2 sixes. Sohail Tanveer perished and the equation read 20 off 12 balls.

But Misbah was still hovering around.

RP Singh accounted for Gul’s wicket in the penultimate over.

13 required off 7.

There I was praying reverently, making deals with God by the minute.

Joginder Sharma came on to bowl the final over. The first ball was a wide. The second ball, a dot. The third ball was struck for a mighty 6. 6 required of 4 now. God, it seemed, wasn’t interested in my new found faith. Joginder came on to bowl the 4th ball.

At that very moment, Misbah chose to switch off his common sense meter and went for a scoop. At first, I saw the ball in the air. Surely, there was no third man and it was a boundary. There was no god after all.

Then I heard the voice of what sounded like god. But it was not god’s, it was Ravi Shastri’s. The voice said “In the air…. Sreesanth takes it.”

Before I could realise what had happened, the support staff had rushed onto the field.

The crackers didn’t stop, but no one complained. I had just experienced for the first time in my life, what it was for my country to win a World Cup. I thanked god, but in the euphoria, conveniently forgot all the deals I made with him.

8 years isn’t a long time, but a few indelible images from that day have already assumed a sense of nostalgia. A day when 11 young men went on a roller coaster ride and took the entire country along with them.

And what an unforgettable ride it was.

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