Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Taste of Failure

After the first close encounter, the next two cricket matches (including one in which I did not play) turned out to be disasters. With much vigour and skillful display we managed to qualify for the next round, aka Super Sixes. In the very first match we were pitted against arguably one of the strongest teams in the competition.

Before we knew what exactly was happening on the field, they had hammered 70 runs off first three overs. This whirlwind performance took the breath away. We were a hopeless bunch out there, trying to comfort each other in this hard time. Finally, the hammering subsided as the stipulated 12 overs finished. Looking up at the mountain of 190 runs, especially when you're the captain of the team that's supposed to chase it is not a memorable experience. Again, after congratulating the two unbeaten opening batsmen of the opposition, I expected to reduce the margin of loss as much as possible.

After two quick wickets, I decided to jump into the fray. After playing the first ball comfortably, I thought I could stay longer and give my side something to cheer about. At times, or if you believe in Murphy's golden laws, the lady luck suddenly decides to part ways and you're left alone to slug it out with your fate. It was that kind of a day. Off the second ball, I managed a reasonably strong off drive which I thought went past the short cover. The short cover and the ball had different plans on their respective minds, and yes, me too had an entirely different plan. I had traveled three paces at quick time and just then it was time for me to return back to the crease. Given the dust-bowl-like condition of the pitch, I had no choice but to slip and despite a desperate diving effort, I think I fell short of the crease by the time the bails were off the stumps. Imagine this happening in front of eleven pairs of expecting eyes. Imagine this happening after incomparably poor show as a fielding side.

I had to return. No wonder the return journey took longer than expected.

It is for formality that I write, "we were beaten by a stronger team (that eventually proved to be the strongest team of the tournament)."

It was a paltry match after all. Not significant at all. Had I hit a quick-fire 50, nobody would have bothered. And the same rule applies to the failure. Yet, one can't escape the dreadful emotion of dejection, frustration and of course shame (of having let the team down) even in such small, insignificant occasions.

Now imagine what it must feel like if it happens at the international stages of sport. In front of millions watching, reading, hearing about the performances. Take the cases of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting or likes. From their point of view, at the early stages of their careers they must have felt such strong emotions. But do they feel the same way now, should such a situation arise?

I am sure they have their own ways of handling this. And of course, maintaining the hunger for victory, maintaining the hunger for excellence. Not only as individuals but of course for their teams, for their countries.

Well, that's what I am going to do. There is this volleyball semifinal coming up. And I can't wait to go down there and smash my way to success. Success of my team, of course!

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