There was no bar on celebration

World Cup fever: Every TV set showed only cricket on Wednesday

There was no bar on celebration

over the moon: Fans celebrated the victory that they will remember. There were hardly any passengers in BMTC buses on Wednesday afternoon. Even Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa  watched the match along with his grandchildren. At the High Court, lawyers took a break from their labours to catch the action. dh Photos and KPNThe 30-odd souls watching cricket had been there since 2.30 in the afternoon, and many, in a mellow mood had settled on sofas. One snored and all the efforts of his friends to wake him up were as successful as Afridi’s endeavours to motivate his team mates.

“Jeetega bhai jeetega, Hindustan jeetega,” someone would shout every five minutes or so, and others would join, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes by rote. There would be other slogans now and then, not very complimentary to Pakistan, and even involving mothers and sisters of the Pakistani cricketers, but some would join and others did not. One very drunken techie was not happy with such slogans. “Why?” he wailed, slumped across the sofa. “We are winning.”

Every wicket that fell was greeted by a roar that would cause an earthquake accompanied by a tsunami. Every miss would be greeted by curses that would make a bosun blush. One immaculate over from Munaf makes him the darling of the crowd. In his next over three tight deliveries, and everyone is rooting for him. Then Misbah gets a stylish single to long on. Under pressure, Munaf bowls a slightly wide one to Abdul Razzaq. There are loud curses. Razzaq moves to leg and swishes and misses. Loud exhalations of relief.

Hero, zero, hero

At one table, there is strong condemnation of Munaf. “Bhai, he can’t even move,” someone says a few things about Munaf’s imaginary sister. There are demands for more beer as the heat is choking. But the waiters have no beer. There are all-round pleading for more beer. When that fails to produce the bubbly, there are attempts to persuade the staff with offers of some incentives. Does not work either.

Then Munaf produces a slow leg-cutter. Razzaq misses it, playing the wrong line and his off stump is out of the ground. Suddenly, in a jiffy, Munaf is the toast of the house. “Munaf, yaar, you are greaaat,” drawls the same man who had a few minutes ago threatened to violate the womenfolk from Munaf’s household.

Misbah battens down one end, and Afridi finds himself completely unable to get the ball away as Zaheer Khan, the one genuine, flawless diamond in the Indian bowling attack probes with electronic precision. The crowd is wowed.

It is 179 for 6 and Afridi and Sehwag have a smiling chat. Bhajji comes on to  groans. The fifth ball of the over, a high full toss, Afridi cannot resist taking a huge swing at. The ball balloons and at cover, who else but the man who just exchanged smiles and chat with Afridi, Sehwag takes the catch.

The bar erupts. The black couple from some African nation, to whose making out at the bar everyone has been oblivious, is startled. They cannot understand the madness and mayhem. The woman has a comanche haircut and is wearing a halter that can hardly contain her assets.

Wahab Riaz in. Misbah is rousing himself. He hits Bhajji for a four, but too late. Nehra comes on. Loud groans. But, Nehra, the languid, lean, lazy, Nehra bowls one full and straight. Riaz takes a mighty swing. The ball lands in the safe hands of Tendulkar at cover.

After a tight over from Zaheer, it is Nehra into the act again, taking Umar Gul, plumb in front of the wicket.

Misbah decides to go down in glory. Too late. Khan gets him. The bar erupts. The noise is deafening. Everyone is hugging everyone else. With tears in their eyes, grown men hug each other. One is sobbing. It is all over.

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