Remember the climax of ‘The Dark Knight?’ Batman goes off running while Jim Gordon waxes eloquent about Harvey Dent but is actually meant for The Batman. It was a fitting end to a movie dominated by the enigmatic performance of the late Heath Ledger. Even after my popcorn was quietly stolen and finished by some ingrate ‘friends’, I stayed on to watch the ending.
Endings are why we read an entire book or watch an entire film. They are also why we watch any sport. The start and the ‘in between’ are of course important, but if the finale is a dampener, you could end up hating the beginning even if it was fun. On the other hand, if the end is a real nail-biter, even a bad beginning and the ‘in between’ are forgiven.
The IPL this time has thrown up some adrenaline pumping last over finishes. Apart from modern ethos dictating that the young stay up ALAP (as late as possible) to be part of the ‘cool’ ones, I’ve been awake expecting every match to be like the recent MI v CSK match. I was sweating bullets due to this unbearable heat and also because the match was exciting. With 16 runs needed off the last 6 balls, I thought MI had lost it. After a vintage Sachin inning, MI would disappoint again. These were the thoughts in my head. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what went on in the participants’ heads? The commentators got excited and blurted out clichés after clichés but let’s enter the minds of the players.
Dhoni – Alright! Ben’s got one left. He’s bowled well so far. I’ll toss it to him. Hope he doesn’t screw it up.
Ben Hilfenhaus – Oh no! Dhoni’s looking at me. Maybe if I look away, he’ll give it to someone else.
Dwayne Smith and MI – Damn! Where’s Nehra when you need him?
Fans – CSK is winning.
The first three balls read 1, Wicket, 1. Ben Hilfenhaus would have been a little relieved. His thoughts would have been something like, “Hell yeah! What would CSK do without me? There’s no way I’m giving 14 runs in three balls.”
Even Dhoni would have echoed his sentiments. CSK’s bowling did look like a 90 year old man’s mouth without dentures – toothless. Dwayne Smith however would have been cursing Ben. He would also have been confident because he had only one thing to do and no one would blame him if he couldn’t. It’s the best position to be in. Before your minds wander off thinking about various other positions, let’s check out the minds of the above mentioned guys post the third ball.
Ball 4 went for a 6
Ben – Damn! That was almost a Yorker. How did he hit that? Oh well! I’m not giving 8 runs in two balls.
Dhoni – Helicopter shot! I should have copyrighted it. What’s this Ben doing?
Dwayne Smith – Wow! How did I hit that one? Well who cares? I’ll just pretend to be confident and show that was a planned shot.
Ball 5 went for a boundary
Ben – Holy C***! 4 runs off 1 ball. God, please let this be a dot ball. I promise I’ll make it to Church every Sunday.
Dhoni - …….
Dwayne – Okay! There’s a real chance here. Now I’m under pressure.
Fans – CSK, MI, CSK, MI, CSK, MI
As Ben ran up to bowl the final delivery that could either make him a hero or Dwayne Smith one, the audience was rapt with tension. They continued to fill their stomachs with nails. Time seemed to stand still. The result of that final delivery gained an importance reserved for the elder of a family. When the final ball was smacked for a boundary, Ben Hilfenhaus would have been as depressed and sad as a man walking out of a theatre after watching ‘Travel Agent Vinod.’ Dwayne Smith on the other hand was visibly ecstatic as were the MI fans.
These are the moments that keep us coming back for more. The euphoria of victory, the disappointment of defeat and the display of talent on the field are what this cricket crazy nation lives for. The IPL has provided all this with aplomb and hence has become the property it is today. It has become the colloquial 8-12 ‘time pass’.