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Resumption of ties by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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The air was electric, the atmosphere charged up with faces beaming all over. The tension was nerve racking, hearts racing faster than the minds with visible signs of palpable nervousness. The audience was on the edge of their seats glaring intently at the proceedings in the middle. A final shot over the ropes that would crown the batting side with yet another remarkable victory was looming large. The bowler, an inexperienced one, was in charge of delivering the coupe de grace - either to his side or to the opposition. The batsman, a veteran involved in incidents of such kind, was ready having already plotted down his gameplan. A quick pan of the television camera across the stadium revealed lots of teeth - teeth that were digging deep into the lower lips, teeth that were slicing nails of varying sizes, teeth that were grinding hard and fast against their own variety. Folded hands, chanting lips, intent eyes and serious faces was another common sight. The bowler rushed down his run-up and delivered the ball. Whether it was his intention or just a slip up considering his sweaty palms, the ball carried down the 22 yards without hitting the deck. It was a full toss. The batsman could not have prayed for a better delivery. The willow sliced the air and met the ball mid way.

History, intuition, track records, experience, predictive abilities and mere common sense - all make way to that one branch of science that deals with uncertainty. It is called chaos theory. However much one can control the setup and the conditions, however much one can reasonably guess the end result keeping in mind the history of the sequence of the events, the introduction of chaos into the mixture throws all rules to wind, relegating caution to the back seat. (Painful) History had it that when Indians were confronted with an eerie but a similar situation in 1985 during Australasia Final in Sharjah, inexperience of Chetan Sharma bowed out to Miandad's maturity. The ball was delivered a full toss, or rather in a golden plate with a silver spoon, leaving Miandad gladly accepting the benevolence escorting the ball with full honors over the ropes and handing India, in the process, the most bitter of defeats, the scars and scabs of which were fresh and lasted even till a few years ago.

Chance had it this time, that the two warring sides were brought together once again, in a similar battleground, in face with an exact equation. That players, commentators and people - both at the stadium and in front of the television sets, aren't remindful of this painful/glorious (depending on which team they were supporting) past was just wishful thinking. The sight of Miandad rushing towards the pavilion, pumping his bats toward the heaven, screaming his lungs out, with scores of Pakistanis in the stands giddy from the unexpected victory and the long and sullen faces of Indians, was presumably playing on everyone's minds. The same Miandad, this time as the coach of the Pakistanis, was visibly gesturing to Moin Khan at the receiving end of Aashish Nehra's final delivery, the ways of hitting the final ball to a 6 and securing his side a place in cricket's history and peoples' minds and hearts.

This time too, the ball was a high full toss. This time too, the ball was eminently hittable. This time too, the pedigrees and lineages of the bowler and the batsman were in serious contrast. This time too, a miracle was in the offing. The stage was set for an encore. Enter chaos - Indians now do not duck to short balls in a cowardly fashion. Lip Service from the opposition would be repaid, with tip, in kind. Chin Music would be rewarded with beamers aimed directly at the throats. Sledging would be met with a disdainful glare through the helmet grill. This Indian team has the right combination of hunger and vengeance in dangerous proportions. So when a similar situation and a familiar equation of winning or losing off the last ball is presented, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out which option this Indian side would pick. Fire is greeted with brimstone, thunder is responded with lightning, hint of chance is welcomed with a stroke of luck. The mental clock is reset back to the good old days of pre-Australasia final. The tensions have returned all over again, the healths have gone back to the docks all over again, the cumulative work done on either sides of the demarcation lines between the two countries have started to fall off sharply all over again. The term "fought" is dusted off in the attic and once again brought back into circulation replacing the word "played". The ties have surely resumed!

By Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Other articles on cricket by Srinivas
Tour full of negatives
Congratulatory message to Indian cricket team

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