Random snatches of conversation heard just before the South African innings:"Machan enda time waste pannaranga. Nera presentation ceremony vekka vendi thane."
"L: Dei, South Africa win panna nan thalaya vettikaren da.
G: Nee enda vettikanam. Inume thotha Ponting than da vettikanam."
Perhaps too many people tempted fate this way. But no, to ascribe this victory to anything but the heroics of the South Africans would be doing them a gross injustice.
Cut to Madurai, Sunday evening:
There are only two channels that run in our hostel television: Any channel with good cricket/Sun Music. (Yeah now you begin to see why am 'Marooned in Madurai'). So it was that sunday evening found 3 of us (The Devil, Kumar and yours truly) sitting in coffee day watching the Bahrain GP, waiting to see Schumi cross the chequered flag. :-( Sad. This is when we heard or rather saw the news of the 434. First thought: Typo, Second thought: SMS Hoax. After confirmation by a switch of channels, I prayed for the bowlers' tormented souls. Seeing SA 3/1, we switched back to the race. After the race and a heavenly chocolate delight to help me tide over the disappointment, the score was 130/1 off 16 overs.
Cut to the hostel:
Knew something was afoot when I saw the steady stream of people flitting between the rec room and our mess. 300 off 32 overs. That's when I knew I had two options: Go study for the internal next day and ace it. Or watch history being made. I chose (like almost everyone else at the hostel) the latter.
As the wickets tumbled and newer heroes arose, the clapping turned to wild cheering and 'the heroes' became 'our heroes'. In neutral matches, I normally support any team that plays against Australia. (A remnant of the TAG/IG days that my friends from school might still remember?) But in this match, the reasons were different. We all backed SA the way we back India against Pakistan. Why? Thought no more of it then. Went back to the room for a while after van der wath got out but came back in 5 minutes, this time without my specs. Not one guy was sitting down and I followed the progress of the match as much by the crowd's reactions as the blurred images on screen.
When Boucher hit the boundary that finished it, we were like India had just won the world cup. There were Hi-Fis and Id style hugs everywhere. That's when I knew what it was all about. We didn't care two hoots for either Aus or SA. Everyone has a deep rooted desire for heroics, for beating long odds and proving that impossible is nothing. So when we do see someone on the way to being a hero, we want him to win because that means we can too. And here sport scores over movies or books, for it is real and much closer to life.