Fantasy cricket!

Fantasies aside, the real game on Friday for anyone watching the Twenty20 World Cup was the battle between the sub-continental rivals.

updated: September 29, 2007 07:52 IST
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New Delhi:

Now I am no fan of the Aussies, but am I glad that they didn't exit the Twenty20 World Cup.

As they played the English side on Friday and the news about the possibility of them being knocked out owing to cricket's weird number game became clear, a part of me kept reiterating - nah, not like this mate!

While this may come as a serious surprise to those around me - who must by now be seriously fatigued with my vitriolic anti-Aussie outbursts - there is a deeper and far more sinister desire here that they don't understand.

Real empires never - and should never - fall in a whimper, and the Australians have been a real empire in the world of cricket.

Outplayed by Zimbabwe though they were, all that it did for those like me (i.e., die-hard South African fans) was further affirm that the English would suffer - ah such is the trauma that the Aussies have inflicted upon me over the last decade.

And after watching their match against the Twenty20 experienced English side, in hindsight, it is evident that my sense is not ill-founded.

But like I have already mentioned, I am not disappointed.

To see the Australians knocked out early and someone else taking home the trophy would mean that the eventual champs - in my strange little mind at least - would suffer a Tommy Gunn syndrome, ala Rocky V.

You need to beat the man to be the man, and that's my sadistic dream for the Aussies. If the Australians have to be dethroned, then - call me a romantic - it must be done right.

Durban delight

Fantasies aside, the real game on Friday for anyone watching the Twenty20 World Cup was the battle between the sub-continental rivals.

Kingsmead under lights is never a batsman's dream, and a new look Team India, playing what was effectively their second ever 20-over a side game, were caught struggling on a lively pitch against an emerging threat to batsmen all over - Mohammad Asif.

India-Pakistan games don't need the whether gods to add drama, but this one had it all, as the rain played hide and seek and the Indians continued to dig in and battle the elements.

Gutsy knocks by Robin Uthappa and MS Dhoni paved the way for a competitive total and a persistent Indian quick-bowling line-up hit the right notes as the mercurial Pakistani side held back - probably worried that if they went all out, they might characteristically self-destruct.

Besides doing their basics well, the Indians did show a lot of heart in the field and always kept their opponents on a tight leash.

Until it came crunch time! Pakistan's late order flurry revived the nervous butterflies in Indian tummies.

Then, you could hear Indian fans across the country either roaring the Chak De anthem or falling back in their chairs muttering their well-rehearsed pessimistic moans.

But what followed was truly what fantasies are made of. After a topsy-turvy ride of the momentum shifting from one team to another, it all ended in a nerve-racking tie. But that was not all she wrote!

Excitement galore, the first ever bowl-out in this World Cup was they only way that the score would be settled.

However, setting things up for something that has been envisioned on the lines of a football penalty shootout took far too long, killing the thrill a bit - ah when will the administrators learn!

Nevertheless, silly as it seemed, it was entertaining and it ended in the tactically smarter Indians sustaining their World Cup winning streak against Pakistan.

So I guess, I do take heart from the day; fantasies - it seems - do have a way of becoming reality.