The atmosphere of the dressing room was terrific. We were breathless with excitement. ‘What would happen?’ I finished fixing my pads and looked out onto the pitch where our captain and vice-captain were trying to make the best of what they could for the ridiculous run-rate set on us due to rain.
The bowler applied saliva to the ball and wiped the spittle off his flannels. He came to bowl the last delivery of his over. Tharanga, the vice-captain, came forward, determined to hit the ball over the ropes. But the ball was short, and it went straight to the keeper who took the bails off. Tharanga glanced at the skipper who shrugged. Then he walked back to the pavilion ere was one more over to go!
I put on my gloves and picked up my bat. It seemed very heavy. Tharanga nodded at me smiling. Had it not been for his innings, We would never have been any closer to the winning target. Thilan was waiting for me I could imagine the stress in his mind and the strain on his shoulders. He just gave me the “Do not let us down” glance and went back.
Twenty-six runs to make in this over. That was was my task. I was supposed to be the fastest batsman in both the club cricket and the school cricket teams, but this was my first international match, and I tell you the pressure was unbearable. The crowd was the opposition.The rival captain had a long discussion with his most formidable strike- bowler, much to the annoyance of the umpire, who kept on looking at his watch.
The discussion was over and the bowler came running to bowl again. My fear was draining away. The bowler, smarting about being hammered in the previous delivery, came to bowl. The delivery was pitched outside the off-stump and I went for the cut shot. Before the fielder was back, I had time to cross over a single. I was about to sign with relief when suddenly I heard the word “two” being shouted. It took me a split second to realise what was happening. Then I ran for my life, I saw the ball landing in the wicket keeper’s gloves. Before he could act, I drove, and half a second later I could hear the ‘click’as the bails came off. There was a big commotion as the opposition thought I was out. The third umpire was called and we waited breathlessly for the result. He took his time to ruffle me, for it took him around two minutes to give his decision, but when it came, I was elated by the green light that shone. The opposition went back to their places, muttering that the umpiring was based and what-not.
The pacer adjusted the grip and trotted in. The ball pitched way too short and using my instincts, I managed to hit the stands. In disgust he spat out, took the ball and went back to his running mark He turned around and gave me a hard stare. Then he came charging in and bowled onto my leg-stump, which1s my favorite area. I pulled it over the square-leg boundary There was pin-drop silence in the crowd who had gathered to see their home-side win.
If I could hit the next delivery for a six we would win the match. I waited for the ball and had goat missing it by inches. The fielding side’s over-enthusiastic appeal was turned down and there was still more muttering that the umpires were cheats.
The pressure that had left me was now back. I had to hit a six off the last delivery and now my head was burning. The supporters of the opposition realizing that their side might win were using all their lung power and inspiring the fielders. The bowler went back to his run mark.
One more ball six runs needed for victory. It is an uphill task. The crowd was as silent as the grave. I took strike. I saw nothing but the bowler. The ball left his hand and came me. I charged it down the track and swung wildly. I heard a click and saw the bowler out-stretching his hand, grasping at thin air as the ball flew over him. I followed the ball with my gaze and saw that it cleared over the ropes. Our supporters are jubilant. I ran my fingers through my hair pushing, it back. I felts someone behind me and w that it was Thilan who hugged me with delight. He went to do the formalities. I turned around, grabbed the stumps and walked slowly back to the dressing r