- By Santosh Chaudhary, USA
My pulse raced through my nerves as I stepped in the cricket ground. I headed for the striker’s end of the pitch and settled there. The scorecard on the western end of the ground flashed the progress of the game. We needed a run from last two balls. And I was the last wicket remaining.
Scoring a single run from last two balls is supposed to be a simple task in the competitive cricket tournaments, but the situation I was in had few differences. Firstly, I specialize in the technique of bowling rather than batting. I prefer throwing balls at the opponent team’s batsmen, and I have very little skill on hitting the balls thrown at me. Secondly, in this particular game I was batting as the last person as all of my teammates had returned to the dressing room bowled out by the opponent’s bowlers. So, it was all up to me to score the winning run. Of course there was another teammate on the ground but he could not do much from the non striker’s side of the pitch. It would have been a piece of cake for the skilled batsmen to score that final run, but for me it was the test of my lesser learned skills.
The drumbeats inside my chest got louder by the moment. The rush of warm blood heated up my face and body. All eyes from the stands seemed to stare at me. The intent gazes pierced through my heavily padded protection gears adding to my discomfort. The cheers and screams of thousands of spectators made any other voice practically inaudible. The intensity of the noise was rising as the moment of decision drew nearer.
The opponent’s captain arranged his players in the field in such a way that I could not see any space that I could use to push the ball without being intercepted by one of the fielders. I either had to play a master stroke of the genius or had to take the risk of hitting the ball so that it would fly above the fielders’ head without being caught in the air. Both the conditions seemed a steep climb to me.
The game was evenly poised at this moment. Either of the team could win it. One fallen batsman and the game was all to the opponent and one stroke of luck in the form of a run and I would bag victory for my team. The fielders all looked at me, the lone striker, like they were ready to attack the moment I dared to move.
I concentrated all my thoughts on the ball in the bowler’s hand as taught in the basic training sessions. The bowler released the ball and the ball darted through the air towards me like a bullet. I had just fraction of a second before I realized that I had to do something with my bat. I moved my front foot a step and lifted my bat high and punched the incoming ball on the face with but a little force. The impact made the ball turn right back and it went past the bowler who was still running towards my end of the field to gain balance. None of the fielders had a chance to stop the ball as the ball rolled in the area of the ground where by the rule fielders cannot be placed. And the pace of the ball made it just difficult for the fielders nearest this area to catch up before the ball crossed the boundary rope for four runs.
Before I realized that I had scored the winning runs I was all the way on the non striker’s end of the pitch and the next thing I realized that I was running, my bat swinging in my arm, toward my teammates. They lifted me up in the air and I felt like a king. Joy, fear, excitement; an innumerable variety of emotions swelled up inside as I joined my teammate’s yell of glory and victory.