Nidahas Trophy final: Story of those last two overs
Dinesh Karthik walks in briskly almost betraying his nervousness. Fans are still looking for reasons why a rookie was sent ahead of him. One of Bangladesh's finest bowler has bowled an over yielding five dots, a leg bye and a wicket of a set batsman. 34 runs are needed in 12 balls.
Bangladesh could almost feel one hand on the trophy. Rubel Hossain has conceded only 13 runs of his 3 overs and picked up wickets of Raina and Rahul. He is entrusted with ball to finish the game. At the other end is, Dinesh Karthik, the man who debuted so long back that the younger fans might have forgotten him. The man who has always flattered to deceive.
He watches the field; places his hands on the bat handle and takes guard. Hossain eyes seem focused; he has had a perfect night until now. It can only go Bangladesh's way. He runs in and slithers through the crease to deliver what looks like a yorker but DK is standing outside the popping crease, he middles the low full toss over long on off his first ball. A beginning we dream of. Something is different in DK today. Still 28 required Hossain appears confident. He knows it's a matter off few dot balls.
He charges again delivers a ball just short of yorker length DK smears it over cow corner for a boundary. Bangladesh's fielders seem to doubt themselves now. Hossain seems perplexed; he is under pressure. His two best balls have gone the distance. DK is like a man possessed. He is in the so called "zone". Rubel runs in again and tries a length ball this time, DK almost seems to know where the ball is coming he flicks it over square leg for a six. Fans are lost for words, they are in delirium. Self doubts begin to creep in the Bangladesh's Camp. Rubel delivers a wide leg cutter slower ball. Dinesh Karthik fails to connect. Bangladesh's fans begin to believe again.
It’s still 18 required off 8 balls. Karthik steals a two off the next slower ball. India need a boundary of the last ball to have a reasonable chance in the final over. As Rubel runs in Karthik moves to the leg, he fires in a fast yorker length delivery. But to his dismay Karthik slithers across and ramps the ball over long leg for a boundary.
In the space of 6 deliveries, Karthik showcased the dormant potential he had within him. He has transformed the match. Still 12 are required off the last 6 and Vijay Shankar is on strike. He has had nightmarish outing with the bat. His mind is cluttered.
He gathers himself for the final onslaught. Bangladesh's main bowlers have bowled their quota. It's up to the medium pace of Soumya Sarkar. He delivers the first ball and to Shankar's dismay he misses a leg side full toss. Luckily it's a wide.
Pressure grows. Tension mounts. Sarkar runs in again bowls an offside wide length ball. Vijay goes for an almighty hit, he misses again. Shankar manages bat on ball after 6 deliveries and gets Karthik on strike.
Sarkar wants a dot ball he goes for a yorker but Karthik manages a single. 9 required off 3. You can feel tension in the fans faces. Shankar still has a chance to end his nightmare. He places a wide yorker length ball between short third man and point and it runs to the boundary. Bangladesh's fielders see the trophy slipping away from them.
But they still have hope; they gather themselves he delivers a slower ball Shankar sees an opportunity to end the match off this ball. He skies it high in the night sky. Long off and long on are converging over it. They almost collide and long on drops the catch but Mehedi Hasan Miraj, who played a cameo in the first innings, takes it off the rebound. Bangladesh breathe again. They are going to fight till the end. This may be theirs night after all.
Last ball in close matches is an event in itself. It tests the temperament and mettle of the players involved. DK has crossed over while the catch was taken. He assesses the field. India needs a boundary to tie and a six to win. It is edge of the seat stuff.
Sarkar wants a cold water bottle. The pressure is palpable. Bangladesh is on the verge of something special. In between Bangaldesh and trophy is DK, the man who has worn criticism for consistency and responded with runs in domestic cricket; a man who at the age of 32 appears like a newcomer in the team, is calm almost meditating amidst the cacophony. He is on a different spiritual plane at the moment. But will this innings also end like one of those which gave glimpses of brilliance but lacked the finishing touch.
Soumya Sarkar runs in with his mind on preventing a boundary. He bowls a ball that is just short of yorker length outside off. Dinesh Karthik is meditating, his mind is uncluttered; his hands feet in complete sync with his brain. He goes back in his crease crouches and creams a lofted cover drive. As the ball travels in the air, it seems to signify the journey off the man whose talent has broken the mould of dormant potentiality and transformed into a fire of vitality and action. With that one hit he becomes a part of cricketing folklore.
Soumya crouches down with head in his hands. The horror story of Bangalore which had been exorcised just a few days ago is back. Scenes after that is a sea of contrasting emotions.
There is nothing to be ashamed about for Bangladesh. They fought valiantly. Perhaps some other day they may utilize this experience to pull off another heist but this moment is about India. Long after the dust of this victory settles down, this night will be remembered for that one shot; that one moment; that one man, Dinesh Karthik.