I couldn't sleep on Saturday. I dreamt of cricket, the stadium and cheering all night. I woke up in the morning, anxious about how the day would play out. It was an important match for us. A win would drive our stake firmly into the ground. A loss would make the last couple of wins disappear.
The day really started when I got on that bus to the city, filled with people in blue team jerseys and paint on their faces. I could barely wait to reach the shuttle and when I did, I found myself furiously texting my friend asking if she could get there any sooner. We strolled around a bit, checking out tents, taking random pictures and finally joined the lines at the gates to arrive at our seats in time for the first ball.
The numbers were much bigger than I expected. Unlike at the MCG, there were as many, if not more, Aussie fans as there were Indians. From caps, bandannas, jerseys to costumes, there was blue, green and yellow all around me. I felt like a seven year old at an annual fair. I could not contain my excitement as V pointed out the various cartoon characters to me. By the time we got in, Australia had won the toss and decided to bat. We decided to find our seats first, and come back for the beer later. Once we got to our seats, on a top row, bang in the middle of two aisles, we were kicking ourselves for not buying the beer first.
The weather was perfect for cricket and both teams were fighting for their place on the board. It was going to be a great game!
When Australia and India play, it does not matter who wins the toss. India always choses to chase while the Aussies like to start with their bats. It works well for both teams.
The first few overs were great for the Indians. We managed to restrict the runs. Wade was scoring a run here and a run there, struggling to get any big ones. When Warner got to bat, he flung the ball around a bit. The Indians seemed unfazed but we needed his wicket sooner than later. I sat there, willing someone to get Warner. Soon enough Zaheer Khan claimed Warner, with a catch from Sachin Tendulkar. It was perfect. Ricky Ponting came in next and couldn't do much for his team. After a few lame attempts to score runs, he was sent back to the pavilion.
Next to arrive was Forrest. He is a big guy. There was no doubt he was going to get a boundary or two before long. Wade was still failing to do much. A little while later, Wade was put out of his misery and Mike Hussey walked in. The Hussey-Forrest partnership did well for the Aussies. After they had been on the field together for about an hour, the scoreboard was not looking great for India. We badly needed a wicket. It didn't matter which one but the partnership had to be broken.
Suddenly, there was a loud appeal and Mike Hussey was out. Or was he? The umpires weren't sure either, so the third umpire was called upon. A couple of replays didn't really tell us what the result would be. So, we waited. A big red OUT appeared on the screen and Mike Hussey started to walk towards the pavilion. The Indian audience at the stadium screamed with joy. The cheering went on non-stop till we saw one of the ground umpires running towards Hussey. We saw Hussey walk back. Something wasn't right. Then, the big screen said NOT OUT in bright green. The Aussie crowd went crazy. Not surprisingly, they yelled louder than the Indians just had. Nobody knew what was going on. We saw Dhoni speaking with the umpires. Somebody joked that the third umpire must have hit the wrong button. Whatever had happened, Dhoni's men had to concede that it was not out.
The match resumed. A couple of balls later, it was announced at the stadium that the third umpire had indeed hit the wrong button. How hilarious! Someone on Facebook quoted Ravi Shastry as saying that the man had one job to do all day, which was to hit the button and he gets the wrong one!
The Indians were unfettered. Pathan came in and within the next few minutes took both wickets - Hussey and Forrest. He was the hero in the Indian army at that moment. The rest of the match played out pretty well. The Indians tried their best to restrict the Aussies and the latters trying their best to up the score. At the 45th over, the scoreboard looked like either team could take this match away. Then, the last two overs happened. Those few minutes tilted the game entirely in the direction of the Aussies. Dan Christian and David Hussey sent the balls flying, into fours and sixes. The target score for the defending team was beyond reach by the time they were finished. The difficult score was 250 but at 280, the Aussies looked damn good right then.
The second half of the session didn't offer much entertainment. The top order batsmen in the Indian team didn't wait to settle in. Trying to score some big ones right from the word go, they fell like a pack of cards, leaving Dhoni to score the entire 200 runs by himself. He did his best to keep his cool and bridge the gap. It was only a matter of time before he knew that he had to unleash his energy and start going for the big ones. One of those shots turned unlucky for him and he was gone. When that happened, the Aussies had pretty much won the match. The lower order batsmen took a few fours and ran between the wickets as best as they could. There was only so much they could do. The gap got wider and wider till it cracked. India lost the match without even a total of 200.
There is no doubt the better team had won. It was another disgraceful defeat for India. Another battle lost without putting up a fight. Now, with Dhoni banned from the next ODI, what will happen to the India's place on the Points Table? Will we make it to the finals?