There are seldom moments in life when you choose your heart over better judgement and Mumbai Indian’s victory yesterday against the Rajasthan Royals was one of those numerous occasions especially for cricket lovers like me. While there are evidences that say the game was but just a script being played out, my heart refuses to believe and why shouldn’t it? Even a brilliantly scripted movie takes a number of re-takes before the final print is out but here while a million eyes are watching you, you got to be a damn good actor to pull it off in the first take itself.
Let us imagine that Tare knew he was going to get a full-toss which he needs to put away for a six. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I mean you keep dreaming about such a delivery all your life and what better than to get it as a first-up delivery which will make you a hero overnight and which could even give you a chance to mock the ‘humble and down-to-earth’ fellows like Watson and Faulkner. But imagine Faulkner would have ended up bowling it a bit slower than his normal pace, not deliberately but maybe the delivery could have slipped from his hand and what if this full toss would have caught the top edge and into the hands of some ‘I am the hulk-hogan’ freak like Cooper who believes in running to his dug-out after taking every wicket and that is not considered rude at all (LOL?) That one mis-hit would have not only stopped a hundred babies from becoming millionaires and a thousand from becoming slumdogs, it would have made Tare lose a lot more. The pressure would have been seen on this young lads face if he was out there playing the script, but what we saw was a calm head, more concerned about the chewing gum in the mouth and eyes locked at the second tier.
They say Watson could have run up to the crease to get Rayudu out rather than taking an aim at the wicket but what if Rayudu had beaten Watson then? Would we kind souls have spared the Aussie then, claiming that the best option would have been to take a hit from 5 mtrs away because I mean who misses from there? And not to forget to blame Dhaval Kulkarni who missed a sitter of a run-out when Rayudu was still far away from opening his account. And how Ravi never called out the away captains call during the toss, saying “Yeh toss hi fixed tha”. (My very good friend Schofield (Name Changed on his request) has very rightly pointed out that the toss for this game is not on the replay of this game on StarSports.com while this isn’t the case for any other match. I know Schofiled is right but I want to tell Schofield that my friend I don’t want to believe it because it will break my heart. I will choose my heart over better judgement here). This urge to go all out to prove that miracles are no longer a reality shows that it will still take a hell lot more for us to wash away the stains of the fixing scandal. Why no company makes a detergent for this?
So let’s just let our hearts take over better judgement this time and for those who choose to believe that yesterday was nothing less than one of those days when you see a bunch of young chaps determined to break away from the shackles of their fears which often handicaps us and pull off a miracle, should ideally read ahead. For those who still believe the game was mere a script, I thank you for your time so far and may the gods help you find something where you can really enjoy the thrill of a miracle.
Now from here on, let’s build on the part that is larger than life, the part where I spoke of a bunch of men who decided to conquer fear. Let’s take a look at it from a sports point of view. I will take you back to one of the most memorable comebacks of the recent past. No prizes for guessing but yes it’s 25th May 2005 and the venue being Istanbul. Knowing you are 3 goals to 0 down, against a team that boasts of the likes of Pirlo, Crespo, Shevchenco, Kaka, Maldini, would you ever give yourself any chance not at half time but even before the game starts? Well Steven Gerrards men did not because they had no option but because there was a ‘Belief’. Stevie G knew that what frees us from the clutches of our fears is not something beyond our control but something that we can actually channelize. Diego Simeone knew this and so did Jurgen Klopp and Tony Pulis and everyone else who was called an under-dog. Knowing that their backs are against the wall, they had absolutely nothing to lose; their minds took focus away from the fear and focused on a ‘Upset’.
It isn’t funny what humans are capable of, if they set their sights on something but the question is that do you really need your backs to be pushed against the wall for you to come up with something like this? Can you not just make it a habit to crush opposition time and again like how the Aussies did under Steve Waugh or how Ferguson’s men at Old Trafford did where they instilled fear in the opposition even before the game had started. The answer to it lies in the fact, “If you are such a strong team then your victories are no longer linked to your ability to conquer fear but they are attributed to the fact that you are already a Champion side.”
With what Yusuf did for Kolkata the day before or what Rayudu, Corey and Tare did for Mumbai, the success mantra to winning has to be chasing, no? I mean if you can chase down a 190 odd score with more than 25% of the allotted overs left, you can probably chase down anything under the sun. Then why don’t teams chasing win each and every time? Why do they need some Math guy to tell them that today you have to win in so and so number of overs or else you’re dead? Why can’t the coaches and team staff make it a habit to tell their players this every single time? Do we really need to wait till the end to finish a game? And think about this from the team bowling second’s point of view that just has to ensure that they don’t ‘lose’ within the stipulated overs. In such cases, do they suddenly stop believing that they can do it? Do they lose the mental battle well before they lose the on-field game? Does knowing the fact that even losing the game would still see them through, make them work less hard? What is the team staff doing? Why can’t the mandate still be to win at any cost? I know you will argue saying that no one wants to lose or plans to lose unless he is a Dhoni but then Why team meetings in such cases on the ground while the match is on be a constant reminder to the fielding side that it is okay to lose but beyond 14.3 overs? Is it that it is the team batting second almost conquers their fear way sooner than their counterparts which unleashes them to pull off a humongous 434 chase in a 50 over format or even a 190 odd chase in less than 75% of the legal allotted time like the Dutch did in the T20 world Cup or the Mumbai Indians did yesterday.
Does all of this go ahead and tell us something more profound about us human beings? That if we decide to not let our fears tie us down, our abilities are mammoth enough that we can beat the odds almost each and every time? I believe that it is this ‘break-away from the shackles of the forces tying us down’ which actually makes men stronger and we prefer to phrase it as “We just wanted to enjoy the game.” Sir, if you wanted to enjoy the game then you would have gotten a bag of pop-corn along as well but instead you chose to get some balls along. So while you like to put it up in a rosy manner, you should ideally learn to say, “Yes I want to outclass everyone today because I am not going to let my fears hold me back. Today is when I proclaim truly, that I am the Master of my Fate and I am the Captain of my Soul.”
Sports is a funny thing where every outcome often if not always teaches you a lesson for life. It reinstates your faith in the words ‘hope’ and ‘belief’ because you know your team is still hanging in there and miracles do surely happen. It shows you what winning really means when you see someone like a Rayudu break down knowing that they were so close yet so far, Ronaldo crying after the Champions League final victory over Chelsea, Federer breaking down after the record Wimbledon victories. Sorry to say but then these visuals can never be scripted, if you knew you were anyways going to win since the match was fixed over tea yesterday, unless you are a Vinod Kambli or a Sergio Busquets. It breaks your heart too but then has the capability to help you experience euphoria soon again and it presents you with the biggest irony where you pray to see the smile on Sachin’s face, which isn’t a rarity, honestly, but somewhere where you forget that those prayers would entail a frustrated Dravid throwing his cap on the ground, a guaranteed rarity.