The white conker swung in, and barged straight into the timber. The red lights flashed. The crowd roared. The sirens were running high on volume. Arms spread out in exhilaration. A huddle of blue cheers, cheers hard, and cheers loud. For all those glam shots up and over the boundary, the excited voices that received them, the pats on the back, the trending helmet and the plucky heroics, this was a bust. Rahul Tripathi saw the magical journey thus far, in the tenth lap of the league, sink a little.
The white thing is thrown with savage ferocity, and in a moment of madness, he comes down, dances and awkwardly skies it. It razes past the thick top edge and goes sailing into the starry smoky night, before plonking onto a pair of hands. And before its drunk journey culminates into a wicket, Smith knows it, and he starts ambling back towards the hutch. Blonde curls, streaked freakily, swings around, and we see a grin. Malinga loves it. So does the paltan.
Absolute pandemonium. And trouble. And chaos. And cheers. And of course, anxiety, by the truckload.
A lull follows, as the Supergiant rises to a crest in the odd fated moment, hitting one or two away to the ropes, knocking it around, sweating it out, running with toil and guts. The scoreboard is heavy, its rusted, and even with the most desperately muscled violent push, it moves up by no more than a couple of runs. And in that mad effort, one succumbs. Mumbai is a smug ol’ bunch of winners, and they have one finger on the glistening gold soup cup.
Slightly aged, worn biceps. Odd white hair veiled by a purple helmet. And when the big fat Spartan swings, it swings big, it swings royal. For 12 balls, he is no longer the ageing cricketer, he is the young fearless reckless superhero who swings when he wants to. For 12 balls, he is the man we described with endless adjectives because we felt shamed when he was blasted by the press. For 12 balls, he is the man who ruled the roost, cocky and arrogant, in the long gone golden era. For 12 balls, he is the freak, and there was nothing Mumbai could do about it. Except for kicking back and enjoying the party. He was Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after all.
Mumbai is shaken. Jerked. Pushed. Shoved. Slapped. Spanked. Their finger has not only been ripped off the soup cup, they have also been pulled away from it, before they fathomed it. They must run. Towards it. Oh, they must, for the love of the paltan. Oh, they must, for the love of the accurate soothsayers. Oh, they must, for the love of the enthused fandom. Oh, they must. They just must. And so, they do, but all in a blur, as we discover.
Like a misfiring cracker, they go full out in the first four. There’s no stopping them. They’re mad. They’re determined. And of course, they’re a little confused, as attested by a run-out straight out of the blue. Yes, the blue. Pune crack open a fissure, in a rock we thought was steamrolling them. Pune believe. And so do their fans.
For his quirky name, occasional spotlight, and a quiet little World Cup, the expectations were running down a ramp. But he believes. He bowls, because he didn’t bat. And he bowls bloody well, because he didn’t bat bloody well, like we expect all weird named new ones to. He spins. It stinks, according to the Pup. And in a wronged moment, the Ro Show draws curtains upon itself. Maybe the bowler knows he was living by the perishable sword of luck, but he believes. And belief is magical. Ambati Rayudu, the most misunderstood talent, the most underrated superstar, pulls- but pulls it to a pinkish Aussie pair of hands. Pulling his helmet down a little, he saunters with a truckload of racing emotions. Maybe the bowler knows he didn’t have a hand in it, but he believes. And belief, then, was gold. The big Caribbean muscle man walks out with a swag- smart, cheeky, Pollard. The man can bat, but maybe not today. Not today, when it mattered the most. And when he walks back, the bowler knows. He knows he’s orchestrated something special. A special that thrives in the beyond. And as he reaches for the elusive beyond and catches it, he believes. And this time, he celebrates, does Washington Sundar.
A small dynamite was on a timer at the other end. But the time never came. The time to explode, set the staidum on fire, have the sparks hurt the purple brigade and blast away to glory never came. He hung by the tenterhooks, did the chubby ol’ Parthiv Patel, putting the odd one away to the fence, and fencing tough, on the twenty two yards. He believed, but it didn’t really matter.
Thereafter, there was no turning back, and no stone left unturned. The paltan sunk, as their heroes submitted, folded, one after another. Mumbai has another shot. They need more than just a finger on the soup cup this time, and they need a special glue to help them hold onto it till that last ball. Let’s believe, they’ll believe.
That day was Pune’s. They believed in a heist. In style did they pull it off, a brave heist, shoved into triumph by ol’ fine tuned Spartans and gently urged in by a raw amateur pair of brave hands.
Pune rose. They had been rising. But that day, they rose up, above and high, like giants. Like supergiants.