Chapter 1:

Kamal's devils

Skipper


The huge stadium of Lord’s, thronging with a lot of people, welcomes the Indian team; as the whole team, lead by Kamal, make their way out from the pavilion to the ground. As they enter the ground, the vastness of the crowd and the noise made by them hits them hard. While feeling totally overwhelmed by that sight, everyone in the Indian team stare at the mob nervously.

After observing the whole stadium for a few moments, Kamal takes a deep breath and then speaks to his team.

#Kamal: Alright guys!! (saying that he beckons everyone for a hand stack)

As some of them join in nervously, Kamal tries to encourage them with his last words before the match.

#Kamal: This is it guys,….. just remember this; no matter who wins it here, this match is gonna standout in the history. So lets give it our all in this soon to be historical match and go back with our heads held high….What do you say?!

Even after feeling little encouraged, everyone respond to their skipper nervously.

#Kamal: (sighs) Come on guys!! It’s the world cup finals that we are playing. Where is your energy?

Feeling obliged to their captain everyone loudly respond to him in an acknowledging way.

#Kamal: Alright!! We can do this !! (shouts out with lot of enthusiasm in his eyes)

Saying that he robustly breaks off from the hand stack and walks towards the pitch with his teammates following him….

As the west indian batsmen were standing ready at the crease, Kamal gets himself ready to bowl the 1st over of the innings….

While waiting for the umpire to give him a start signal, Kamal stares at the stadium while being totally lost in his thoughts. Not feeling sure about what spell to device for the 1st over, Kamal stares at the whole stadium while being totally unaware of what was going on around him. As he was feeling nervous about the whole situation, his mind wanders onto many different things. After few moments of being lost in his thoughts, suddenly a certain voice rings in his head.

#Unknown voice: Quite a view, isn’t it?!

As soon as Kamal hears that, he looks over his shoulder to find himself talking to himself. While feeling little surprised he stares at his doppelganger who was now standing next to him while resting his arm on his shoulder.

As Kamal stares at his imaginary self, he hears himself speak again.

#Kamal: (speaks with a dreamy expression on his face) Can you believe that we have made it this far?! from not being able to win even against a team like east Africa, to beating all the other teams to reach here….(scoffs in disbelief) feels like we are in a dream, doesn’t it!?

Saying that he looks at his real self, who on realizing what he was talking about stares randomly at the crowd in the stands with a suppressed smile on his face.

#Kamal: Make sure you savour every moment of this. (Saying that he disappears into thin air).

Hearing those words Kamal takes a deep breath and calmly looks at the batsman in front of him and gets ready to start the innings, just as the umpire gives the play signal.

Upon umpire’s play signal Desmond gets into his batting stance.

As Desmond looks at him while tapping his bat on the ground, Kamal starts his run-up towards the popping crease, while holding the ball with its seam in an upright position and perpendicular to the length of the wicket. As he was just a few strides away from the crease, he takes the leap, while simultaneously loading the ball near his shoulder. Just as he lands on his right foot, he immediately swings his bowling arm backwards-in a clockwise manner- and then over his head while planting his left foot firmly on the ground, and then releases the ball from a position just after the apex of the arc of his swinging arm, while simultaneously adding a lot of backspin to it (all while making the whole thing look totally perfect and smooth) ….

With a high backlift Desmond carefully observes Kamal as he releases the ball. As the ball hits the deck at a good length area and just outside the wicket to wicket area, Desmond confidently starts to swing his bat in the downward direction with an intention to drive the ball straight down the ground. But to his surprise the ball doesn’t pitch up to the height that he had expected.

As the ball had landed on its shiny side, instead of bouncing up, it skids and dashes ahead, towards the stumps, at a very low height and at a high pace.

Immediately realizing that the ball was coming in towards him at a much lower height and at a much faster pace than anticipated, Desmond quickly brings his bat down and jams its toe on the ground while moving his feet away from the ball’s line of pace.

While totally expecting the ball to crash into the stumps, Kamal watches the ball as it gets completely blocked by Desmond’s bat.

#Mike: (shouts out of excitement, as Kamal clicks his tongue at Desmond, out of disappointment) OHHHHHH!!!! That’s a real stunner from Kamal!! I bet even Desmond didn’t expect such a delivery on the very first ball of the innings. I’ve gotta say that’s pretty gutsy of him. (saying that he stares at Kamal while feeling quite impressed)

#John: (speaks up after few moments of contemplation) I think that’s nothing to be impressed by, I mean he is bowling a cross seam delivery right at the start of the innings, if you ask me, he’s just being desperate.

#Mike: what is so crazy about that? Haven’t you seen any cross seam deliveries until now?

#John: Huh?! ….Of course I have, but I have never seen a player use it right at the start of the innings, as any other normal bowler would use that delivery only when he isn’t left with any other options, as in when the ball is worn out or when it is too hard to get a grip on the ball.

Feeling totally frustrated over his comments, Mike continues to observe the ongoing match…

While feeling totally baffled by the ball he had faced just then, Desmond stares at Kamal with a bewildered expression on his face.

*Desmond: A cross seam delivery right of the bat?!

Even his own teammates look at Kamal with the same expressions.

Steve who was at the non-strikers end calmly stares at Kamal as he jogs down the pitch to collect the ball. As his skipper collects the ball and walks back to his run up position, Kripan singh ( The Indian wicket keeper) stares at his back while feeling quite impressed and surprised.

*Kripan: (scoffs to himself) it’s terrifying when I see him this calm.

As Kripan contemplates his captain’s state of mind, Kamal starts his run-up again.

Wondering what kind of delivery he was going to bowl next, Desmond takes his stance and waits for the delivery; Just as Kamal takes the delivery stride and swings his arm down and releases the ball with a delayed action, Desmond raises his bat with a huge backlift, while anticipating that delivery to be a short one. Just as he expects the ball hits the deck at a short length area, in line with the 5th off stump. Desmond gets onto his back foot and gets ready to cut the ball towards the point with a horizontal swing of his bat; and so he swings his bat without any second thoughts and without realizing that it was again a cross seam delivery. Before he could realize what was happening, the ball dashes across the pitch again at a lower height (when compared to a normal short ball) and takes a bottom edge from the bat and darts towards the stumps area. As the crowd and everyone on the Indian team gasp at what had happened, Desmond Immediately turns around in panic to checkout what had happened and to his relief, he finds the stumps still intact and the ball in the hands of the leg slip fielder, who was looking at the stumps in a disappointed way.

#Kripan: koi nai; badhiya, badhiya! skip (shouts out in their local language)

Feeling like a fool Desmond stares at Kamal, as he calmly walks back to his run up position and collects the ball from one of his teammates….

#John: A CROSS SEAM AGAIN?!!! You’ve gotta be kidding me!! Who in their right minds bowls a cross seam delivery continuously for the 2nd ball of the 1st over?!!!!!

#Mike: Well! They do say that the star players are never in their right minds. (saying that he chuckles to himself)

Ignoring his words, John stares anxiously at the ground.

As Desmond waits for the 3rd ball in his batting stance, Kamal starts his run-up; Just as Kamal takes the delivery stride near the popping crease, he delivers the ball. Desmond carefully watches the ball as it lands on the pitch at a short length region again but this time right in between the wicket to wicket area.

*Desmond: A short ball again!?

Feeling totally clueless and not having much time to come up with a shot, Desmond instinctively shifts onto his back foot and starts to swing his bat with his whole strength in an attempt to pull the ball towards the square leg region, but before he could commit himself completely to the swing he notices that the ball had bounced up way higher than what he had imagined, and it’s trajectory was directly in-line with his line of sight. Not knowing how to respond to that delivery, he immediately abandons his swing and tries to defend his face with face of his bat and moves his head away from the ball’s trajectory.

As Kamal completes his follow through, he stares at the ball as it hits Desmond on his left hand glove and drops dead on the ground.

#Mike: Whoa!! From a cross seamed low delivery to a sharp bouncer? Man! That is totally sick!!

#John: (speaks nervously into the mic) it’s just the 3rd ball of the innings, I think it’ll be better if the openers calm down a little bit and try to play simple shots until they recover from such a shaky start.

Upon hearing his words, Mike couldn’t help it but feel a little amused, as the one who was shooting off his mouth before, at the start of the innings, wasn’t looking so confident now.

# John: But you know what? it’s really impressive that Kamal was able to contain ‘THE’ West Indian openers with such ease for '3’ balls, cuz we’ve seen that in all the other matches Desmond has always started out with a bang by hitting a boundary or a six. (Speaks as Mike looks at him with a look of slight disgust on his face)

#Mike: Keep saying that and before you know it, India might just win it all.

#John: (scoffs) Yeah right!

Again Ignoring his comment, Mike placidly observes the ongoing match….

At the end of the 1st over, to Mike’s delight, Desmond was left dumbstruck at Kamal’s bowling spell. He had used the least expected deliveries throughout the over, which kept Desmond from scoring even a single run.

#Mike: Damn!! It’s a maiden over; forget about scoring, He didn’t let him even touch the ball. This feat could really set the momentum of this game. (Shouts out into the mic, as John grumpily watches the match)

As Kamal hands over the ball to Balwinder (one of the fast pacers of his team) and changes the field setup Desmond walks upto Steve, while staring at Kamal with a cluless expression on his face.

#Steve: (speaks while looking at Desmond’s clueless face.) Well! looks like the pitch is still lively, I say we better be careful and take it slowly from here.

Upon being ignored by him, Steve gently punches Desmond on his arm, who was furiously glaring at Kamal.

#Steve: (speaks calmly) Knock it off! Cool your head while you’re on this end, we don’t want them getting any momentum now. Let’s not play any big shots until we settle down. (Saying that he walks off towards the strikers end)

While tossing the ball in his hands, Ballu checks his field setup for the last time. Making sure that everyone were in their appropriate positions, Ballu takes a minute to calm himself down while recollecting his captain’s words to him, right before he was given the ball.

A few moments ago..

#Kamal: try taking a wicket in this over. Probably that of Desmond’s.

Saying that he looks at Ballu who was anxiously staring at the Batsman at the striker’s end (Steve)

#Kamal: nervous? (asks him)

Ballu nervously nods his head in response.

#Kamal: (speaks while randomly looking around the stadium) playing the strongest team on a world stage while representing your nation is a once in a life time opportunity, so it’s better to savor it than wasting it while being nervous. (Ends his words with an intense look on his face)

Saying that he pats him on the shoulder and sprints off towards his fielding position…

Recollecting those words from his captain, Ballu takes a deep breath and gets ready to bowl the 1st ball of his 1st over….

*Steve: light!! (He thinks to himself as he blocks a ball from Ballu)

*Steve: His deliveries don’t have that much pace like that of his Captain’s; and yet his ability to make the ball swing either way makes it hard to middle it.

After being beat for the first 2 balls, Steve finally manages to get just a single by pushing the ball directly towards covers.

Just as Ballu collects the ball from one of his teammates, he hears a shout from somewhere near the long off boundary. As he turns around, he spots his captain sprinting towards him in a hurry….

#Mike: Huh! That’s interesting! On his Captain’s advice, Ballu has placed 3 fielders in the slips, leaving the point area wide open for the batsmen.

#John: (scoffs) I guess they are going to try getting Desmond’s wicket by trapping him in the slips; As if that’s gonna work!

Saying those words, John watches the game with a wry smile on his face.

Feeling Totally confident about the fact that such a field setup is like a gift for him, Desmond takes his position while smiling arrogantly. Watching him ready to bat Ballu starts his run-up and swings his arm during his delivery stride and releases the ball with his usual action. As he completes his follow through, he watches the ball as it dashes across the pitch and hits the deck at a full length area and one stump away from the off stump, while being angled towards the stumps. Not having much time to think, Desmond swiftly brings his bat down and blocks the inswinging ball. As the ball lands near him, after a couple of bounces, Ballu stares calmly at Desmond, who was staring back at him while looking a little surprised. After a few moments of staring at each other, both of them calmly go back to their positions.

#Mike: Damn! For a moment there I thought that he was a goner. It was such a well disguised ball; looking at the field who would have thought that he would bowl an inswinging yorker; If it was an amateur, he would have been gone by now.

#John: (speaks with a relieved smile on his face) Yeah! But looks like the Indians don’t have any luck on their side….

After scanning the field for the last time, Desmond takes up his position while still feeling little surprised at the previous ball. As he sees the batsman standing ready at the crease, Ballu starts his run-up and sprints towards the popping crease and then with the same bowling action he bowls the 4th ball of the over….

Right after the ball darts its way past Desmond and away from the wide line, an astonished Desmond stares at Ballu, who had just finished his follow through. Immediately after the umpire sticks hands out, signaling the ball for a wide, Ballu calmly walks back to his run-up position as his teammates try to cheer him up.

#John: And that’s a wide!! (saying that scoffs in disbelief) it’s already tough to defend such a low scoring total, and here they are, giving away free runs. (speaks with a mocking smile on his face)

Growing tired of his criticism, Mike just calmly observes the ongoing match.

As all the West Indian supporters in the crowd anxiously wait for the next ball, Desmond takes his batting stance and gets ready to face the ball just as Ballu starts his run-up. While feeling totally restless to hit at least one boundary, Desmond watches Ballu as he takes the leap and releases the ball from his swinging arm. As the ball lands on the pitch in the good length area, wide of off stump, Desmond instinctively moves a little towards the off side while raising his bat with an intention to drive the ball towards the covers. But just as the ball reaches near the crease, instead of swinging the bat, he leaves the ball, out of a doubt that it was going to end up as a wide again. But to his surprise the ball flies past him while just grazing the wide line area.

Feeling completely annoyed at the way he was made a fool, Desmond watches the ball as it sails and lands in Kripan’s gloves. As everyone on Kamal’s team applauds Ballu for that perfect delivery, he calmly walks back to his run-up position, with Desmond staring at his back in an irky manner. Watching him getting restless, Steve (who was on the non-striker’s end) shouts out to Desmond in an attempt to comfort him while feeling a little helpless himself.

#Steve: It’s okay! Take it easy. He is probably trying to stall you till the end of the over. Just relax and watch the ball.

As Ballu collects the ball from one of the fielders and gets ready to bowl the last ball of the over, Desmond calms himself down by taking a deep breath and then takes his position and gets ready to face the last ball of the over.

As both the commentators anxiously watch the game as it unfolds, Ballu starts his run-up towards the popping crease with all the West Indian fans cheering for their star players, in the background.

As both the commentators watch the game, Ballu takes the leap and releases the ball from the same arm position as before. Upon complete anticipation that the bowler would bowl a delivery similar to the previous one, Desmond instinctively girds up to smack the ball over the covers just as the ball hits the deck at a good length area in the same spot as before and just as he feels that the ball was within his arc, he swings his bat towards the covers, in an attempt to slog the ball over the in-field, only to discover the ball flying past him, over the wide line area. As Kripan dives to his right and collects the ball with a little difficulty, Desmond stares at Ballu while feeling like totally annoyed.

#John: That’s another wide from Ballu! (shouts out with a smirk on his face), looks like he is avoiding Desmond. But I gotta say that If he wants to avoid him that badly then the most important thing for him is to bowl proper deliveries rather than wide balls. (ends his words with a chuckle)

While maintaining an ignorant face, Mike calmly observes the match as it proceeds.

As Ballu gets ready to take the run up for the next ball, Desmond takes his batting stance and impatiently waits for the bowler to bowl the last ball of his over. The next few seconds, right after Ballu had released the ball, turned out to be completely inscrutable for Desmond…

While clearly showing off his determination to hit the upcoming delivery no matter what kind of ball it was, Desmond’s eyes follow the ball as it hits the deck on a good length area and in an outside the off stump region. Just as it dashes ahead towards the wide line area, Desmond moves to the off side and swings his bat towards the covers just like in the previous delivery, without paying any attention to the seam presentation of the ball. Before he could realize what was happening , the ball swings back in by a small angle and takes an inside edge from the bat and then crashes into the wickets.

After a few seconds of whooping and celebration on the Indian side, Desmond looks back towards the stumps and finds the off stump completely uprooted. He then looks at the umpire in total disbelief. After a few moments of staring at the umpire, who had raised his arm up while sticking his finger up, Desmond walks away from the pitch while shaking his head in disappointment and also while feeling totally shocked at the way he had lost his wicket.

#Mike: Whoa!! That’s a real shocker, I gotta say even I didn’t expect that from Ballu. The way he lured Desmond towards the off side by teasing him with those wides and outside off stump deliveries was really amazing. (Not giving any chance for John to react in any way, Mike continues to speak into his mic). Well! let’s hope that the same will work against the present greatest batsman, Who is right now making his way towards the pitch.

As every Indian in the stadium was celebrating for the wicket, Cillian Richard (who was considered as the greatest batsman of that time) makes his way out of the pavilion and towards the ground. Watching him cross the boundary rope and walk past Desmond, who was returning to the pavilion, the ambience in the stadium suddenly started to change…

Just as the Indian team was done with its celebrations on getting a wicket, they suddenly start to hear a beat being played on the drums from somewhere in the stands.

As the batsman (who was admired by everyone in the world) walked onto the pitch, most of the audience in the stadium welcomed him while dancing to the calipso beat that was being played by a few West Indian supporters.

Immediately after Richard stood ready at the crease, Ballu bowls the last ball of his over while trying to use the momentum from his previous delivery. But to his disappointment, Richard easily drives the ball towards the mid on fielder and takes a quick single….

While feeling a little miffed at not being able to take another wicket before the end of his over, Ballu walks towards his new fielding position, when suddenly he hears random shouts from the crowd…

Just as Kamal was setting the field for the next bowler, he suddenly hears the crowd cheering for their star player by shouting out Richard’s name in unison.

Seeing the crowd getting so lively, just because of the presence of a single player, made the Indians on the field feel anxious. Detecting the anxious moods of his teammates, Kamal speaks to them before handing over the ball to his next player.

#Kamal: All right guys! (draws the attention of his teammates with a clap) 1 down, 9 to go. Since we could take out one of their best batsman, taking out the rest of them is not gonna be that tough.

Saying that he turns towards the fastest bowler of his team and tosses the ball to him.

#Kamal: Alright! you’re next Mandy. Let him have it. (He says that while gesturing him towards Richard)

Kamal instructs the rest of his teammates about their fielding positions and jogs away towards his fielding position shortly after, without saying a single word to him; Mandeep nervously stares at Richard, while worrying about how that over will turn out to be.

*Mandeep (Mandy): getting a wicket just in the 2nd over of his innings is really an amazing feat.(Thinks to himself while looking at Ballu) I know that it would really set a momentum if I am able to take a wicket in this over but….(turns his head and looks at Richard)… with him at the crease I think it’s better for me to stall him rather than going after his wicket right from the 1st ball of my 1st over of this innings.

With those words in his mind, Mandy gets ready for his run-up.

With most of crowd chanting his name, Richard takes his stance while exuding absolute confidence.

While expecting the very first ball of his over to be a dot ball, Madan delivers the ball with a straight seam and pitching way outside of off stump, at a good length. With the ball charging towards the crease at a high pace, Richard lunges towards the covers area, while crouching down a little bit and slogs the ball towards the deep covers boundary area in an instant….

Just as Madan completes his follow through, he hears a loud crackling sound from the striker’s end, right before he could realize what had happened. As he looks in the direction in which the ball was sent flying, the hard truth that he is not skilled enough to stall the likes of Richard sinks in.

As the ball sails over the deep cover boundary, Madan stares in that direction while feeling totally dejected. Seeing the ball land in the crowd, the umpire throws his hands up, signaling it for a ‘SIX’.

#John: whoa!!! It’s a clean hit from Richard right on the first ball of the over. You can really feel that Richard has announced himself with that single hit.

Ignoring his words Mike stares at the ground thoughtfully for a few seconds.

#Mike: with that the Indians must have understood that if they let Richard settle even for a second, it can prove to be devastating. So it’s better if they get him as quickly as possible.

#John: (sniggers at Mike upon hearing those words) I think it’s better If we don’t get our hopes up on Indian bowlers taking the wicket of Richard. Cuz, it’s Richard that we are talking about, the man who has 4 “man of the match” titles under his belt; he can’t be defeated by some rookies.

After hearing those words, Mike looks at the pitch and speaks into his mic while ignoring the person beside him, as if he hadn’t heard a single word he said.

#Mike: Alright! Here we go, It’s the second ball of the faceoff between Mandy and Richard (speaks as Mandeep gets the ball) let’s see what happens now. Looks like both, the batsman and the bowler are ready at their end; and here’s Mandeep to Richard; And that’s a…. (Gets interrupted by the solid hit made by Richard)

#John: (completes Mike’s sentence) FOUR!!...... That’s a solid drive on the front foot by Richard. It was clear that Madan was trying to contain him with an out swinger, which moved away from Richard, towards the off-side, as it dashed towards his end. But since Richard had totally seen it coming, he stepped out without any hesitation and lofted the ball straight down the ground, with such strength that the long off fielder could only watch it bounce just before the boundary line and go over it for four. (He then turns towards Mike and looks at him with a smug smile on his face)

Completely ignoring him Mike speaks into the mic.

#Mike: The score is 14-1 and 2.2 overs have passed, The Indians look pretty anxious on the field; let’s hope that this doesn’t affect their performance….

#John: Huh! It Looks like they are changing the field again. (Carefully observes the new field set)

#Mike: hmm… So now the long off fielder is back to the mid-off area, and the man at the backward square leg is moved to the long leg boundary

#John: if the bowling is not good enough, I don’t understand what’s the point of such a move.

#Mike: (Speaks sarcastically out of annoyance) Why don’t you go and ask the Indians in the crowd down there, I bet they will answer you perfectly.

Noticing that Mike was a little annoyed, John tries to change the subject.

#John: 4 more balls are remaining let’s see what happens (speaks as Mandeep charges towards the crease)

The next few moments were of pure pleasure for John and of total disappointment for Mike, as Richard had hit Madan for 4 more boundaries….

The Indian fans in the stands went totally silent at such a display and were watching their team’s condition with disheartened looks on their faces.

#John: (shouts out into the Mic) I can’t believe this! He’s on a rampage. 26 runs in an over?! That’s just crazy. This really is a fatal blow for the Indians. If they don’t take out Richard in the next few overs, then the match is as good as over.

#Mike: The captain has again given the ball to Ballu, expecting him to get a wicket again. And since he did get a wicket in his first over, he might put some pressure on the 2 West Indians.

#John: Hmm…. Let’s see…

They intently look at the ground, as Ballu takes his run-up. But to their surprise, a few moments later the situation was the same as before. It was the last ball of the over and the score was 40-1.

#John: Damn!!(Exclaims out loudly) both of them look unstoppable now. Maybe those shots from Richard in the last over provoked Steve, as he too has joined the slog show. I wonder how the Indians are feeling, as they are in serious trouble.

#Mike: It looks like the West Indies are trying to finish off this match in just 20 overs. Such an attitude can make you overconfident in the most crucial times. (Speaks while calmly looking at the field)

Wondering what was the reason behind his confidence; John silently turns and observes the ongoing match….

After Ballu, Kamal tries all the options he could think of, he includes his spinners and medium pacers in the bowling attack , while trying to get a change in the pace of the match, but to his disappointment it was all in vain. As the match progressed, both the batsmen seemed more and more settled, especially Richard. As no matter who it was or what type of bowling he was facing, he met every ball with solid confident strokes and sheer talent. Most of the players in the Indian team were growing restless, with every passing over, as they weren’t getting any wickets; as both Richard and Steve were steadily moving towards the target, while nearing their individual half centuries. Not knowing what to do, everyone turn to their Skipper while feeling totally helpless .

After a few moments of contemplating on how to get a wicket, Kamal feels little conflicted about whom to give the next over. With the ball in his hand, he analyses the pitch for a few moments and then immediately turns and scans the ground for his teammates. He considers each one of them at a time for the next over. As each one of them cross his mind, his eyes finally land on Jimmy, who was standing near the long leg boundary (lost in his own thoughts). With the grass of the pitch still looking sturdy, Kamal thinks of Including Jimmy in the spell (as his bowling style was perfect for such a pitch); But the sight of Jimmy’s grumpy face makes him change his mind. Looking at him Kamal understood that he was still in the same mindset as that at the start of the innings. Realizing that including him in the attack then won’t do them any good, he takes it upon himself to bowl the next over….

A Captain in making!

Skipper


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