Saturday, September 29, 2007

SuperPower Twenty20

Genre: Current Affairs

Once upon a time, in a small town, Chintu, Pintu, Monty, Pappu set out of their houses into the neighbourhood gully wielding a rubber ball and an old wooden bat. Immediately they set up a makeshift stump, the fielders positioned themselves in the nooks and began a game where there was only one rule- hit every ball with as much force as you can (and in the process break a couple of window panes). Soon Pinky and Priya joined in. They would erupt in joy every time a ball went out of sight and express it with a little jig. Ramlal, Raju and Rohitkaka, back from work, also stopped by to watch the game for half an hour or so. Everyone got a chance to show their hitting powers and when that was done, the game was packed up in a couple of hours. This was the daily routine. Then, one day they decided to give it a name, give it international fame... yes, you guessed it right- welcome to the world of Twenty20!

It was the dull period after India's unceremonious exit from the ICC World Cup 2007 when the ICC Twenty20 World Championships was announced and within no time it was discarded by 'experts' back home here as "Underwear Cricket" and was called "2-minute noodle cricket" by a certain female more known for her noodle-straps than her cricketing knowledge. The Big Three of the Indian team- Tendlya, Ganguly and Dravid famously backed out of the tournament dismissing it as "child's play". Before the commecnement of the tournament, Aussie Pointing pointed that the teams from Asian subcontinent would miserably fail due to inexperience in this kind of the game.

But all this was BEFORE the start of the tournament. The moment the tournament actually started, everything changed completely. Crowds thronged the stadiums by the thousands to watch the "child's play", and why not? It had everything that you would want to make your evening- convinient evening time matches, live DJ and music all around, dancing cheerleaders, food, fun and ofcourse high quality cricket. With only 20 overs at their dispersal to showcase their talent, every single player of every team always gave his 100%, a single moment of carelessness can prove fatal when you have only 80 minutes to make or break your day. By the time the tournament was into its second week, the verdict was out and clear- the 2-minute noodle format of cricket is a big hit! The crowds love it, the players love it and the TV audience love it!

As for the teams from the subcontinent, Sri Lanka made the highest ever Twenty20 International score, so-called minnows Bangladesh showed West Indies the way out, India-Pakistan match ended in a tie requiring a thrilling bowl-out to decide the winners, and then came the unthinkable- India's Yuvraj Singh hit England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over, and also made the fastest half century in any form of cricket!! And this was just the begining. By the time the Super8 stage matches started, the interest in this tournament had snowballed into madness, the craze was increasing by the minute and as for the Asian teams were concerned, Pakistan thrashed 'World Champion' Australia and the final nail in their coffin was the famous win by India eliminating the kangaroos from the tournament that they were once proudly claiming to win. Pointing had no option but to chew his words.

It was not over yet. The ultimate crown in the tournament was the Dream Final that any cricketer and his every fan can think of- India v/s Pakistan! Though for some strange reason, the Final was kept on a Monday but that hardly mattered. Those three hours, everything stood still, everybody remained glued to their Idiot Boxes like never before. And it was, it really was a Dream Final in every sense of the word. After all who would be able to forget that last hit by Misbah-ul-Haq and the catch by Sreesanth that gave India the most prized trophy- the Twenty20 World Cup! The frenzied celebration that began at The Wanderers culminated with a grand reception for the Boys In Blue at Wankhede back in Mumbai. And by now one thing was clear- the new India had arrived on the world stage- an India that is not afraid to take on the big guns, an India that is not shy to express its feelings openly, an India that is hungry for success and an India that is raring to go and conquer the world!

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