Principal D’Souza is walking impatiently from the dressing room towards the seating arrangement again. The scoreboard in front of him showing the digits, 161 / 8. That’s the score of his college team while chasing 173 against their one of the most prominent rival college team.
An avid cricket fan Alvin D’Souza, when joined this college as principal, he was sad witnessing the pitiable situation of the sports segment of the college. Slowly he rebuilt the sports infrastructure of the college. Especially the cricket team, he appointed Prithvi, a retired young ranji player as the coach.
Now as for the first time they are participating inter-college cricket competition, things aren’t look so rosy in the very first match. Prithvi’s boys did well in the field to restrict their opponent by 172, the credit sure goes to their main strike bowler Abhay. He had a good spell and picked 4 for 30, but unfortunately before he finish his full quota, he had a muscle strain and had to leave the field.
“Sir, Abhay’s parents are here, so is his sister and younger brother. They wanted to see him, they heard he is injured.” The peon Panu announced to Principal D’Souza
“How is he doing?” He asked.
“Not too good. Prithvi sir is massaging his thigh with a big chunk of ice. The pair on the ground now has to win this match.” Panu, the office peon, also a cricket enthusiast blurted those words eagerly.
As they were speaking, D’Souza heard shouts and screams from the field. As he hurriedly looked at the game, he saw the 10th man Ranjit was slowly walking towards the dressing room, Mohsin, 87 not out, their no 3rd was looking helplessly as he was standing on the striker end. “What a suicidal runout”, somebody from the viewers shouted out. It was the last ball of 19th over, Ranjit was trying to get back so Mohsin could be in striker end of the next and last over.
Alvin D’Souza closed his eyes, it’s all over now. If Abhay wasn’t injured, still they couldn’t have won the match now, he is well aware of Abhay’s reputation as a batsman. He is a different animal with a cricket ball in his hand and a dummy with a cricket bat.
“Tell them they can see Abhay after the match, outsiders are not allowed inside the dressing room, anyway the match is pretty much over.” D’Souza instructed Panu in a cold voice.
“But they are already inside” Panu hesitantly informed. “Prithvi sir already called them in,”
D’Souza was about to say something when his attention turned to the field, Abhay was slowly walking towards the wicket, as he took his leg stump guard with a high batting stance, with helmet, pads, arm and chest guards, he was looking like a complete batsman. Mohsin walked up to him to give him some advice perhaps, but immediately came back as Abhay signalled him to return back.
The first ball of 20th over, the bowler tried to pitch it in good length only managed to bowl a half volley. Abhay leaned forward, took his left foot on the line of the ball and smack! Slapped the ball through the cover for four, a glorious cover drive!! “I have seen ‘Aravinda De Silva’ playing such shots”, the local polish officer invited was clapping excitedly when he said those words. D’Souza couldn’t believe his eyes.
Instinctive opponent fast bowler’s next ball was pretty obvious, a short pitch delivery raised almost above the rib cage. Abhay quickly went to his back foot, transferred his entire weight on his right leg, his whole body turned 180 degree to his left, as his bat too. The ball went to the boundary in flash through the gap between square and fine leg. A pull shot even ‘Mike Atherton’ would be proud of.
Alvin D’Souza was taken aback, as the opponent captain ran to his bowler. Now it’s only 4 runs needed of 4 balls, opponent team was totally confused about how to set the field now. The next ball, bowler tried to aim block hole, a slight deviation made it a low full toss. Abhay again leaned forward and hit it right above the bowler’s head. A straight bat SIX!!! As the audience and supporters rose their on their feet with a roar, Mohsin was dancing his two hands up above. Principal D’Souza saw Abhay was swiftly running back to the dressing room.
As D’souza entered the dressing room, the boys were celebrating, Abhay was sitting on a chair with a pain clad yet smiling face. His family was standing near him, and another character, almost the same height, short hair, same intelligent eyes as Abhay.
“Let me introduce you.” Prithvi, the coach spoke to D’Souza with impish smile, “That’s Anshika. Abhay’s twin sister. She plays in second divison league as opening Batswoman for her team.”