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|April 18, 2000||
Silver liningsAbhilasha Khaitan
The winner takes it all.
As they did at the Wanderer's on Sunday evening. Touted as the reverse semi-final, the South Africans had everything to play for, and too much to lose. Pride, confidence and faith. Their own and that of their nation's.
As for Australia, did it really matter? Another victory would have been just that. Just another victory. And a defeat would have been novelty value, and maybe a diversion from the monotony of successes. Who am I kidding? So they would ideally like to win, but honestly, if there is one team, which can afford to lose, it be they. But, it is also the same team, which rarely ever does. That the two are correlated is not surprising.
However, the focus of the world's attention was on the men in green. The South Africans, purported to be reeling from the after effects of what is being termed as Cronjegate world-over. Oh, for some originality! Nonetheless, the fact did remain. Could they win, or even try hard enough to? Physical strength be damned, what they needed was the strength of mind and determination to win. Against all odds. Impolitic terminology I know, but how far can one refrain from the occasional nasty (p)un?
Eyes glued to the television, I realized something. I wanted them to win. Desperately so. Call it a sympathy factor, or a need to believe, or a historical respect and affinity for the team. A team, without its leader of many years. The leader under the shroud of a controversy, previously unseen in the sport.
The mantle passes on. It has to. Would time wait for any man, I wonder?
As I was saying, I watched the match, to the last ball. And am I glad I did. Put aside what they say about the game being on its deathbed. Curb the cynicism within you, and shut your neighbour up if he quotes a monetary figure to every bad ball, every dropped catch and every false stroke. "How much money did he take for this, you think? Chuckle." That's your cue to shut him up. One rotten apple does not a basket spoil. Not always. And, more often than not, maybe the apple ain't as rotten as it's made out to be.
The match. South Africa won. As you probably know. And much as I was impressed with Klusener's strokeplay, Boucher's determination, the pace bowlers' venom and the fielding, ah the fielding, the picture that remains in my mind is that of the team with its arms locked at every interval. Fall of a wicket, they rush into a group and lock their arms. A protective cordon. As they say, there is nothing as unifying for a group as is a disaster. And, they looked as unified as one has ever seen them.
Makes one wonder, doesn't it? Some very wise people may have initiated those cliches about dark clouds with silver linings, and it would take a cynic to not use them. Especially at moments like this.
So much for being converted to cynicism. Forget it. I guess I'll always believe
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