Saturday, August 8, 2009

Disaster at Pooja


This is a tragic story of unfathomable depths. Everyone please make sure you have a handkerchief to wipe your tears before you read on.

This is the story of how we lost a game of cricket and how the disaster changed our lives forever.

The year 2008. A bunch of guys working together at Cochin.

We registered for a cricket tournament being held at the famous Pooja Ground. 7-over matches.

None of us were professional cricketers but loved to play. So we got together a team of 11, 2 substitute players, a coach and a team manager (myself). We went and watched the other teams play and thought to ourself “This is going to be easy. We can win”. Like our captain said these guys were just striking the ball wildly and did not have the technical expertise.

We practised daily at our nearby school ground. Finally the big day arrived. Before that we had to decide on a name. Most of the other teams had silly, ordinary names like NCC or MCC[place name+Cricket Club]. We needed something grand and finally struck upon “SBL - THE BLACK AND WHITE STALLIONS”. In fact the commentator had to hand over the mike to one of us every time he had to announce the team name.

We lost the toss and had no idea it was just a sign of what was to come. They chose batting and we laughed at their foolishness. The first over was bowled by Sumodh, whose action often reminded us of a fighter plane firing missiles at the enemy. That day he chose to bowl after only a short run up. First mistake. It was only after the game did we realise that what made us afraid of his bowling was his run up and the expression on his face and that the ball itself was harmless.

The first ball went for a six. We shouted “Never mind”.

The second ball went for a six. We shouted “Never mind”.

The third ball went for a six. We knew we were in trouble.

When the guy who hit seven consecutive sixes became out, to a catch (which turned out to be the only catch we would take), we went wild with cheers.

The next guy who walked in hit 13 sixes - consecutively. Was some sort of a record at the ground, again which would only be the beginning of a lot of records.

We could only watch in anguish as balls disappeared into all corners of the stadium, some of them out of the stadium as even the organisers couldn’t keep up with the scoring. Finally when the massacre was over they had scored over 150 runs in 7 overs.

When our team walked out of the ground with drooping shoulders our coach had a brilliant idea and shouted “Great! So its a batting pitch. All the better for us”. Immediately the smiles returned and everyone’s confidence was restored.

The second innings began. Our star batsman Rocky was at the crease. We screamed for blood; “give them a taste of their own medicine” we shouted.
First ball. The cheers reached a crescendo. Rocky mightily swings his magic bat and…
He’s out.
Silence. Disbelief.
To make a long story short we didn’t hit a single six. We didn’t hit a single four. Hell We didn’t even get to hit the ball at all, I think. No we didn’t get all out. Only nine wickets fell. Pradeep top scored with 7 not out. We scored 23/9 in seven overs. Lost the game for 130 runs - the biggest margin in the tournament - the final record to break that day.

To say we ‘lost’ would be an understatement. We were a failure in batting, bowling and fielding - an utter disaster. The crowd made fun of us only at the beginning. Towards the end of the game even the rival team looked at us with pity and sympathy - which was even more unbearable.

While sleeping that night at around 2 am suddenly someone woke me up. I switched on the light and looked into the face of the captain.

“I will never play cricket again in my whole life” he said.

I sighed.
“Me too”

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