The final examinations had just finished. Small skirmishes had taken all through the year at Medical College ground. Stage was set for BATTLE ROYALE. The team of invincible led by Zoyieb Ali was challenged by a diminutive Shahnawaz. For four years we had been playing professional cricket, ofcourse I can call it that considering everywhere else I have seen grown-ups playing with a rubber ball and we had graduated to a cricket ball.
It was early-mid November, winter had not set in but was cold enough to wear a jacket and drop 7 catches..lol...I can see Aamir fuming over this. But all of us dropped many catches that day. Shahnawaz had joined our school that year and he always used to boast about his locality's team. But we were the champions. Whole year long we kept playing among ourselves with a tennis ball on Medical College ground. The new guys led by Shahnawaz were invariably second in the race of two.More he lost, more he boasted. It was time for showdown now. We decided to take on his local team.Polo Ground was the venue, Friday was decided as the day instead of usual Sunday.
Just before the start of the game, tragedy hit. Zoyieb got injured while riding to the ground. His arms and back were badly bruised. That meant our frontline and only strike bowler would not be able to roll his arm over. It seemed like a mountain to climb. He is by far the best bowler I have played with or against. Single handedly he won us matches after matches. The sight of leg stump of a batsman cartwheeling way past wicket keeper at Degree College ground still is fresh in my eyes. By default our leader,our Captain.
We won the toss and batted first. Bashir scored a half century. Mudasir, Aamir and all top order contributed handsomely and we reached 140+ It was a huge score considering that around 60 would invariably be a winning score for us. I remember Mudassir, our Wall, Rahul Dravid came much later, would score a 20 odd, Aamir and rest would contribute a bit and we would something around 60, that would be match winning.. we obviously had Zubi..
I don't know what Shahnawaz had been telling his team but he had one batsman Ishtiyaq, I knew he was a cool head and could make the difference. I had played for Shahnawaz's team before for my best return's ever...6 for 6...flattering but true and without exaggerations too..
They responded brilliantly, I opened the bowling in absence of Zubi.. getting spanked all over. They reached to 100 something for no loss. Everything we threw at them was hit back with twice the intensity. Both the openers had scored 50's. Then Zoyieb decided to bowl. I remember he was badly bruised, but he had to lead and only he could. Straightaway he got the breakthrough. Next over he threw the bowl to me. Somehow I managed a fast straight yorker...result...off stump flat out. Next over Shahnawaz ran out Ishtiyaq with Aamir jumping in at midwicket to effect. That was the turning point. Mudasir, Bashir and Faisal, who threw each of his deliveries disguised in Muralitharan's action at pace of Waqar Younis, choked the runs. Mudi and Bashir shared 6 wickets between them. I returned in the middle to scalp Shahnawaz, which was the most pleasing part. They fell short by 5 runs.We snatched victory from proverbial..jaws of defeat. Once again we had triumphed, perhaps didn't knew how to lose.
Holidays followed and Shahnawaz got time to digest the defeat. Many more triumphs were to scripted. But to this day, this match remains fresh in the memory as I had just lived it. .
Miss you guys...Aamir, Faisal, Zoyieb, Mudassir, Yasir...all of you are special and will remain all throughout my life..