Lying on the floor in Madras, 9 and a half hours ahead of Antigua, at 2 am, I was wondering if I would turn my TV off at the end of the next over, when the Windies (my third favourite cricket team) need 104 from 10 overs to chase down an improbable 301 against South Africa, with the ever so elegant Bravo and the unsure Ramdin at the crease. In that over, Ramdin fell, sixth fallen wicket (note, Sarwan was injured, so, retired hurt) and in walked the man from St. Lucia, whom I always love to watch, the dynamite who can explode more often the much more known Keiron Pollard, introducing, Darrel Sammy. OK, 9 overs 100, 2:15 am, yawn... Bravo + Sammy... Well, lets watch it!
Oh boy! That was one good decision I made that day! Power Plays came in, and it was sort of 'cometh the hour, cometh the man' sort of thing. Dale Steyn, the ripper, with all his might, firing those bullets of the white ball at Sammy could only watch them sail over the ropes into the stands!!! Two sixes off the first two balls of a Steyn over. Ever dreamt of it? Two more dot balls and a single later, things were evened out, but last ball cost Bravo's wicket, caught slogging to deep cover. So, that tipped the scales in SA's favour.
7 down, and in came Ramnaresh Sarwan. He had earlier injured his hamstring while takinga quick single. I, who was lying on the floor watching till now, got up in respect. Graeme Smith, was near the crease with 'keeper de Villiers, and he knew how it was for Sarwan to be there... Smith himself was in a similar position one and a half years ago down under. Sarwan took 5 minutes to trod to the middle, he had Keiron Pollard as his by-runner, and Pollard took guard for him (you all know his traditional style of marking guard) and Botha consumed him first ball, caught behind. Sarwan, heart broken, trodded back :-( .
In came Rampaul at 8 down, Nikita Miller, also injured, could come 9 down, if at all the WI looked like in a situation to need him. A single then brought Sammy to the strike. Bang Bang!!! Two more sixes !!! Woohooo! And Windies, were down on paper, but not out yet for sure! Next over, in comes Steyn again and he gets another big one off Sammy! This guy was on fire!!! In just 15 balls, he had amassed 37 runs by now, courtesy 5 biggies! In comes SA's most economical bowler, Morkel to size him up... Boy did he know that he was in for a big over??? 2,2,4,4,6,1 and that tipped things in WI's favour, courtesy one man, one big powerful man, Darren Sammy. With the fastest fifty by a West Indian being brought up by the six in that over, the West Indies fan so much wanted to enjoy this situation, half of them drunk and excited, the other half was sober, too excited, nevertheless!
23 from 3 overs. With no option left worth risking, the poor-so-far McLaren is given the ball... Only singles all through the over and a run out in the last ball (Sammy hit back to the bowler, and Rampaul was running early, so, was caught off crease) and thus the match became all so tense... Heard of a quiet Caribbean ground? Ever? This noisy ground became silent... Sammy applauded Rampaul's effort, patted him on his back, thanked him for the partnership (3.4 overs, 47 runs) and welcome the injured Nikta Miller to the crease. Miller, again assisted by Pollard was just told - 'hit, we'll run' and Sammy was in some conversation with Pollard... How hard is 18/2 gonna be?
In came Morkel, to Miller who tapped it to short cover and Pollard was sprinting like Ussain Bolt... Smith at short cover rushes to the ball, grabs it while moving across the pitch, and then back flips it to the non striker's end and IT HIT THE STUMPS AND THE BAILS WERE DOWN... Up went to the decision tot he box, but Smith and co were sure this was out and in came the confirmation... Nikita Miller (errr. Pollard), run out by Smith to break the heart of the 20000 odd crowd. Absolute pin drop silence surrounded Darren Sammy's fallen soul. He was crestfallen by spirit, devoid of words, a tear in his eye, wept away and stood tall once again to exchange the customary hand shakes and move on.
Boy did he give West Indies a jolt!!! He had ripped apart a bowling line up that boasted of Steyn, Morne Morkel and Johan Botha, single handedly took West Indies to within victory's reach. With the integrity and support of Sarwan and Miller for Sammy, it kept pumping him up, he was a proud man. I thoroughly enjoyed his blitz out in the middle, something which I guess all of you missed... NO.. no no , don't tell me you saw the replay on tv the next day or today or will watch it later... You will never know what the innings meant. It was legendary. Sir Viv Richards will be happy about this innings, after what happened last summer in the same place (#abandoned-test). This was an innings to remember!
The man of the match award went to Hashim Amla for his cool gritty near-hundred performance early in the day, but this match was all about 'How Sammy gave the Windies a glitter of hope to come back to the world of cricket', like Taylor and Benn gave them last summer, like Gayle gave them in the winter...
- Proud fan of the West Indies and the St Lucia big hitter