All the superlatives must have been exhausted by now. The single greatest match in ODI history, if you are not a bowler type that is, and it's yet to sink in. I've pinched myself blue, cried myself hoarse, tired of typing and chatting about it with friends, been on a mental high for so long now. They said ODI's made the test matches faster: this ODI must be the first one to be affected by the 20-20 version then. Losing a WC semifinal under such tragic circumstances can never be compensated, but for SA this could be next best option to take revenge. Down 2-2, conceding record total of 434 with a mauling by the unstoppable Ponting and the 'choker' tag looked all for the taking once again. But, Gibbs had other ideas and it was rather fitting that Gibbs came to the fore. The dropped catch of Steve Waugh must have hurt him every day since, but today when Bracken dropped him it was his turn to say ,'You've just dropped the Standard Bank trophy son' (good one Deva) . And I would quote this innings from the reformed Gibbs as the symbolic answer to all those who have the common rhetoric for not watching cricket 'I lost faith after the match fixing scandal' . Well too bad, 'cause we're not missing you.
The lounge was a place to witness. People had already started pouring in once they heard of Ponting going berserk. Dejavu it was, for the WC final memories are too recent to be forgotten. I missed the major part as I was watching England play and sleeping, switching effortlessly between the two. Then F1, which will be discussed later, was also preferred and a late surge by Kumble also widely appreciated. But, once Gibbs and Smith got into the act, and how, priorities were decided. It was amazing to watch such a lage number of people cheer SA and jeer Australia and do that for the entire match. Everyone wished Gibbs get a double but I guess enough records had fallen already. Once he got out the infamous choke loomed large. Van der Wath calmed some nerves along with Boucher (and also inspired a song from me- 'Maybe you're gonna be the one that saves me, 'cause afterall, you're my Van der Wath' :D ) but like SA always do, they left us guessing till the last over. Hall got out unecessarily on the 2nd ball and we were in familiar territories, 1 wicket remaining, 3 balls to go 2 to win. Thank God, Ntini was much smarter than Donald and when Boucher scored that boundary there was chaos. On the pitch, in the stadium, in the lounge, in my mind. I believe we lost a sofa in the post match celebrations.
The greatest ODI ever. Ever.
EDIT: Just an afterthought after writing the F1 part. Before the new qualifying rules came up, there used to be an hour of qualifying time where all cars would try and get in their fastest laps in 3 tries. There was this technique, if you can call it, of sending a car right behind that of a team mate's to make use of the vaccum that's created to sort of 'suck' the car that's behind and get faster times.Putting that analogy into cricket SA would have never dreamt of getting 400 against Aus but once OZ did that, SA were sort of 'sucked' into to do that, amazing. And by the way, Mick Lewis had a reputation of being the best bowler at death in the academy as the commentators pointed out. Ha!
I'm more of an anti-Schumi (Hill was my favourite and I will never forgive him for that shameless trick, also for trying it again against Jacques: am an old time F1 fan) than pro Kimi supporter. So quite naturally I wasn't happy with the way things were at the start of the race, Schumi at pole and Kimi at the back. But the one stop formula worked liked a charm and not for the first time Kimi got a podium place from the back. The race itself was awesome. Loved the moment when Alonso came out of the pits, inline with Schumi and both went wheel to wheel and Alonso pulled away. That was the end of the race for me. Rosberg is the man for the future though. After spinning off at turn one it really took an amazing performance to take on one car after another and then beat them with scorching slingshots. Would have done his father Keke, past championship winner, very proud. The final result with Kimi on podium, Alonso holding Schumi and Juan Pablo and Button in the points was the best I could hope for in the circumstances.
Can only hope for better things to follow.
Henry, Rooney:Premier League
I even managed to watch some good football on this action packed day. ManU began their match against Newcastle with 2 great goals within 20 minutes. Rooney got both of them and looked good for more. Already I was telling stories of the 6-2 battering they had given the Magpies some 4 years ago. But that was not to be. The final score reamined 2-0 and the 20 minutes that I watched, mattered. Had to choose cricket of course, was spoilt for choice.
No such problems with Arsenal vs. Liverpool though. Henry started off with an exquisite finish to start off things but the match really got exciting in the last 20 minutes. Gerrard had a long, swerving shot spilled by the goalkeeper only for Luis Garcia to put in the header. At that point Liverpool looked good enough to split points or even win. But 2 minutes starting form the 82nd changed it all. Xabi Alonso was rather unluckily sent off for a 2nd bookable offence and then there was this childish mistake by Gerrard, still not sure what was he thinking. Near the Liverpool goal he got past 2 Arsenal players and then backpassed the ball for the goalkeeper only for it to go straight to Henry standing all alone and finish it effortlessly with glee, like a child unwrapping his Christmas gift. Pires came close to making it 3 with another Henry special, but 2 was enough for the night.
I could not follow much of the 2 ongoing tests thanks to all the things I already mentioned. But that doesn't mean they were devoid of great action.
First Bond took out Sarwan and bowled Lara first ball, taking 4 wickets in his fiery spell. That made Windies cruble form 118-0 chasing 290 to a situation where they need 45 with 2 wickets in hand. My plan is to stay awake till 3am to watch Bond finish it, and to put an exclamation mark on this wonderful day.
Kumble, on a high after his 500 wickets the previous day, first batted sensibly to give India the lead and then took 3 crucial wickets to put India in with a chance. Dravid was unlucky to miss out on a century after a typical gutsy knock and Irfan showed the world's greatest allrounder that he too is getting up there with yet another rear guard action. So many reasons to bunk class tomorrow.
What else could you want in a day?