It will be perhaps the best match anyone might see in ages to come. The list of superlatives that I can use will be short to describe it. It shall be talked about for ages to come and I have the pleasure of having it watched LIVE. It was 2-2 and the match was to be held at the bullring, Wanderer’s Johannesburg. The Australian captain Ricky Ponting has a certain liking for this ground. He had once lead a carnage, which saw him scoring a mammoth century and Australia piling up 368.
It was the same ground. I managed to land up on a sports channel showing the drama "Live". I saw Gilchrist after sometime hitting 50 in no time. I thought Aussies will score 350. Then after some length of time, I saw Ricky Ponting was playing at 88 of 53 balls.He ended the misery for South African by hitting 164 of 105 balls. I promised myself there would be a couple of records that will be shattered today. I thought 400 run mark will be breached. It was shattered as I saw the dreadful over number 47 in much Roger Telemachus balled 4 consecutive no balls and Andrew Symonds clearing boundaries with some ease in that over. My mind went back through the time almost three years back to the same ground the occasion being the World Cup. It was the first dreadful over from Zaheer Khan that sealed the fate of the match. Ponting made complete mockery of Indian bowling.
It was a different day today. Ponting is a “Big match, Big innings” player. He has put to sword many bowling attacks from all over the world. He did it again today. He just piled on the agony. I think his catch was a very good one perhaps the best one ever wishes to see. The agony meanwhile continued. Andrew Symonds continued the onslaught. I saw the score at 434 for 4. I knew who was going to win. I told my Dad it is over. My father is a big cricket buff as well. He said it is never over until it is actually over. The game of cricket is a funny game. It is the game of glorious uncertainties. Dad said a simple line “South Africa might just win, who knows?”
I don’t know what was going through Graeme Smith’s mind when he came out to bat and saw 435 to win at a run rate touching 9 runs an over. I was very sceptic and wrote off South Africa to winning this match.
It was 7:27 P.M. in my watch and a dear friend called said, “whatever you are doing, you better switch over to the match”. I was like “What’s the deal man?” he told, “South Africa are 181 for 1 in 20 overs”. I said “what?” I checked on; to see it was 182-1 in 20 overs. I thought this match is on. Then I saw Graeme Smith holding out on the boundary. I thought bye-bye cricket match. Then when had posted "Cricket: Run Carnivale" my father came running asked me to watch this over. Gibbs had plundered Symonds for three “four’s” and a “Six”.This over costed Australians 18 runs. It was topsy-turvy after Gibbs got out. There were wicket at regular interval with batsmen under a lot of pressure. I wished he stayed in to score a double century. The balance of the game shifted every over after that. The run rate climbed to 8 an over then pulled back to 7. I vividly remember the equation “South Africa requires 77 of 42 balls.” I was a bit apprehensive. Then Wan Der Vath fell like a wrath on the Australians. He scored 35 over 18 balls and pulled it back for South Africans.
He was dismissed and then Roger Telemachus came in and managed couple of boundaries only to hold out in the deep on the off side. The equation was 18 of 12 balls. It was meanwhile anybody’s game at that time with 18 runs to get and 2 wickets remaining. The pulse were racing and a part of me was “Relax, cool it”. Mark Boucher had to settle a few scores. He laid to rest all past nightmares to rest this time. He is a very good finisher as well. He was ice cool. There were wickets falling all around him. But he lifted the weight on his shoulders and kept pegging away. He never looked out of sorts.
When it was eight wickets down; Andrew Hall came in. He can do everything on the cricket field (bat, ball and keep wickets). He also has the slowest test century so he can bat. He took a couple of singles and then hit a boundary of the second ball of over. I said game set and match South Africa. I realized the next ball he was caught. Makhaya Ntini, who was on receiving end in Australia walked in. He did what not many could have done in the situation; he took a single and the game was tied. I knew Australia was not winning this. I was savouring the moment. My prayers came true when Boucher hit the winnings runs with a four over the top. South Africa had set a new One-Day record for most runs in a One-Day innings. There is a lot, more which will be said and written. I hope I will own a CD of this match I would love it.
I can’t say anything more. There will be things which may happen in the game of cricket. I today believe is saw history being made today. This match proved right whatever is said about the game of cricket. This is the greatest game of cricket ever, till date.