The perfect 'Half Century'.

Can cricket and college days be inseparable from each other in India? A big NO! Strangers become friends during batting partnerships and bowlers of the opponent team become worst enemies. Bonds are formed over a match of cricket. Dreams of playing for our country are nurtured while hitting a sixer. Emulating our cricketing idol becomes our most prized obsession. Yes, we Indians love cricket!

I was the part of my college cricket team. I admit that I was neither the best batsman not the best bowler but I was not the worst either. I always got the chance to be in the playing eleven during league matches but during important matches like quarters, semis or the finals, the coach always dropped me and picked another player who was more or less like me in terms of performance. Well, I never took these matters seriously as I always believed that if I had even an ounce of talent, then life will surely give me one chance to prove my worth!

As usual our team entered into the quarter final of the inter college cricket tournament. I knew that I was the automatic choice for the slot of ‘12th man’, so I was mentally prepared to be dropped from the team once again. When I entered into the dressing room, I came to know that our captain was suffering from fever and he would not be able to play.

There were only 3 stand by players and I was one of them. I had scored a few runs in the league matches and on that particular day, I had shaved my beard. The coach came near me and said “You are looking good but are you ready for this big match?” I replied “I had waited for this moment since ages”. The coach looked at me and said “You are in. Get ready”.

Our team lost the toss and the opposition decided to bat first. The opposition team scored 174 runs in the allotted 20 overs. Our team had to score 175 runs to qualify for the finals. Our openers started the innings cautiously and managed to score 50 runs in 7 overs. After that our team lost 3 wickets in a short interval. Now the scorecard read: 75 for 3 in 12 overs!

We had to score 100 runs in 8 overs and that was a tough task. I was the next batsman. I padded up and as I walked into the middle, I could feel butterflies in my stomach. I was as nervous as a kid going to school for the first time. I tried to calm my nerves by thinking about the girls who would cheer my name if I could score the remaining runs without any difficulty.

The first ball which I faced was a bouncer. The bowler was trying to unsettle me. I did not attempt any rash shot. I looked around to find the weakness in the fielding positions of the opponent team. As the bowler steamed in to bowl another delivery, I took a deep breath, stepped forward and whacked the bat with brute force. The result was ‘Maximum Impact: A huge six’.

The crowd cheered and my team mates whistled. I regained my confidence. The match was not over yet. Both me and my batting partner had to bat sensibly. We did not take unnecessary risks and focused on rotating the strike. At the end of the 18th over, our team needed just 30 runs from the final 2 overs to seal a berth in the semis.

My batting partner took the strike and the very next delivery uprooted his middle stump. Tension was again back in the air as the remaining batsmen were not experienced batsmen, they were more like tail enders. I had to take the responsibility so I went near the next batsman and told him to take a single. He did exactly that and we stole a quick single. Runs required : 29. Balls remaining : 10. I scored three fours in the next three deliveries and took a single on the last ball of the over. Now we needed 16 runs in the final over.

I took guard and waited patiently for the bowler. The next ball kept low and I completely missed it. 16 runs in 5 balls! My heart started beating faster. The next ball was an over pitched one and I timed it perfectly for a six. The next ball was dispatched for a four through the covers. Now the scorecard was : 6 runs to win from 3 balls. The next ball was a bouncer and I mistimed it. As I ran to take a single, the fielder hurled the ball towards the stumps of the batsman at the other end. My batting partner rushed back but was unable to ground his bat in time and he was declared Run Out!

I could not afford another mistake. I had to finish the match myself. I took a sip of water, concentrated harder and smacked the very next ball over the ropes for the winning Six! Yes, we had entered into the semis, I had proved that I was not just another ball boy and I had scored a half century in the match too. As I took off my helmet and wiped off the sweat from my clean shaved cheeks, my team mates rushed to hug me and the crowd chanted my name. I was on cloud nine!

*As this is my 50th blog post, I would like to dedicate it to the most creative person in my friend circle : Sammya Brata . Thank you for being a real inspiration!

*This post is in response  to Sammya's tag in his post  :  'The Bear Hug'

*I would like to invite my blogger buddies Sammya and Depanjan to express their interesting views on this topic.

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette

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