By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | July 15, 2019

I was drawn to the Cricket World Cup when play was halted due to rain with two overs to go for the New Zealand innings to end on July 09. Till then, I was clueless as to what was going on in the Tournament and had only bits and pieces (nothing to do with Ravinder Jadeja) information of the tournament which I gathered from the morning papers.

I knew that Shikhar Dhawan had injured his hand and was replaced; that Rohit Sharma was scoring centuries and that New Zealand had a good run till the semi-final, losing to England in their penultimate league match.

What also drew me to the semi-final match between India and the Kiwis was Yograj Singh’s comment on M S Dhoni on the morning of July 10 where he was quoted as saying, “People like MS Dhoni will not remain forever; filth like these will not remain forever.”

This was not the first time Yograj, father of retired cricketer Yuvraj Sing, was coming down heavily on Dhoni. This time, he was saddened by Ambati Rayudu’s retirement from cricket during the tournament after he was snubbed by the selectors. What Dhoni had to do with it, I don’t know. But if Yograj had said something, it had to mean something.

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A dejected New Zealand team after the loss in the final

I was rooting for the Kiwis to make it to the final when play resumed on the afternoon of July 10. India was appearing a little bit over-confident. It was seen in their body language. The low score perhaps had something to do with it.

And then it began. Rohit nicked one back and soon Virat Kohli was caught plumb in front. The immediate reaction of the captain was one of arrogance. “How can I be out?” he gestured to his partner K L Rahul who agreed to go for a review. The umpire was spot on. Back to the pavilion he went. Every Indian wicket that fell thereafter, I celebrated with a “Viva Williamson” in my interaction with another cricket buff in Dubai in his FB posts. Of course, he was rooting for India!

When Jadeja was caught in the deep, I jumped off the bean bag to celebrate in a similar manner I did when Venkatesh Prasad sent Aamer Sohail back to the pavilion in the India-Pakistan quarter-final of the 1996 World Cup in Bangalore. At that time, I was a die-hard cricket fan. After that, came the match-fixing scandal and I lost all interest in the game!

And when Martin Guptil knocked off the stump from the boundary to catch Dhoni short of the crease, I gave a Tarzan-like yell. My family was wondering what had gotten into me that I was erupting with joy at the fall of every Indian wicket.

I was backing New Zealand to win the final even though England had been clinical in its annihilation of the title-holders, Australia, in the second semi-final. There was Joe Root, Plunket, Morgan, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and some more… cricketers I did not know of. I only knew Ben Stokes. Yes, who can forget Carlos Brathwaite wading into the helpless Stokes pummelling him for four consecutive sixes in the T20 final in 2016!

In the last World Cup, jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia, New Zealand showed exceptional spunk to make it to the final playing some tense matches leading to it. It was similar to 1992, when the late Martin Crowe led his boys with innovation, throwing in Mark Greatbatch in the No. 3 position as a pinch-hitter and opening the bowling with off-spinner Dipak Patel. Yes, those were the days I kept notes on every match. It was heart-breaking to see New Zealand lose in the semi-final. Inzamum-ul-Haq and Javed Miandad showed what it was to play under pressure.

Yesterday, New Zealand made it. I mean they were the better team in the final. Martin Guptill who threw with precision to run-out Dhoni in the semi-final, found Ben Stokes’ bat as he scrambled for 2, which converted into six in the last over!

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Martin Guptill had his chance to script a historic win for the Kiwis

Guptill had his chance to light up his name in the Super Over. Needing 2 runs of the last ball, Guptill played into the deep and could not make it back in time for the second run—all he had to do was whack the ball. But then again, if all matches were to be played in hindsight, there would be no losers!

Match tied. Super Over tied. International Cricket Council (ICC) could have declared both teams the winner. It would have been a great moment for sport.

Like Croatia in the soccer World Cup last year, Kiwis won the hearts whilst England won the Cup.

To be fair to England, they did not play like France, although they had players from all parts of the world!

Stokes went on his knees, crying; just like he did when Carlos was merciless. This time though, it was tears of joy.

For me, it was return back to cricket. It was a joy to see the Kiwis and English players battle it out in the final. It was a team that was playing against another team. Not an individual who made up a team.

And yes, ICC if you are reading, New Zealand got the entire English team out. Now, that should have meant something rather than letting them win on boundaries!

Also Read: Tonight’s The Night For Croatia

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