An evening of loss and redemption
David Hussey didn't want to bat in the Super Over. He also wanted Dirk Nannes to bowl the Super Over. Neither happened. His coaching staff sent him to bat and asked Clint Mckay to bowl. Hussey wondered whether it would be Muttiah Muralitharan or Doug Bollinger who would bowl that over. He hoped it would be his friend Bollinger, as he could then use the fast bowler's pace. In the end he was happy to see R Ashwin bowl. He knew Ashwin can bowl the carom-ball, the offbreak and the arm-ball; he also knew that persistent drizzle would not aid Ashwin. He just wanted to stay off strike and hoped Aaron Finch would do the demolition job.
Finch wanted to bat. It was his evening. At the end of it all, his captain Hussey would introduce him to MS Dhoni, while the three waited for the presentation ceremony. Finch just nodded as he held out his hand. He presented an interesting sight: his arms thick, his smile shy, his eyebrows bristled when he spoke. And he seems to perennially sport a crew cut, even in his old photographs. He once accumulated 73 from 261 minutes to lift Victoria out of trouble. Today, he walloped 41 from 17 deliveries to propel them towards victory. His duel with Ashwin was fascinating.
Ashwin's evening was interesting. It was bad, good and ugly. Twice Finch sucker-punched him out of the stadium. Ashwin came back with a lovely carom-ball to avenge his humiliation and it seemed apt that he took the catch himself. He even threw the ball down in anger. It seemed an outlet for his inner rage. Later, he was picked to bowl the Super Over. His captain felt he had the variations and he is used to bowling in the first six overs with the new ball under the pressure of the Powerplay. It was raining, though.
It drizzled through the chase. The ball got wet and the moist pitch meant the ball came on nicely to the bat; Hussey, Finch, and Dhoni certainly thought so. They felt it was better to bat second. However, it was with the same wet ball that Ashwin removed Finch, Murali struck twice and Suresh Raina almost won the match.
Murali, who turned the match around in his spell, rushed to Dhoni at the end of the 19th over. He pointed out to Michael Hussey, suggesting he be placed at deep midwicket where the ball was likely to be slogged. Dhoni sent Hussey there and gave the ball to Raina.
Raina had two moments where he drove the game towards that Super Over. We didn't know then. And it had nothing to do with his bowling but with his fielding. Or his misses with his throws. The first moment came when 24 runs were required from 18 deliveries; David Hussey hit the ball back to Raina, who, without turning back , flicked it towards the stumps behind him. Quiney was out of the crease but the throw missed the stumps. It was pure cheekiness. Raina even managed a grin. Fast forward to the penultimate delivery: two runs were needed. Throughout that over, Raina never bowled full. It was always back of a length. Michael Hussey waited for the tailender's slog at deep midwicket. He floated the fifth ball around the off stump back of a length. Siddle, who had hit two game-turning fours just before that to redeem his evening that had earlier threatened to end in shame after he bowled two beamers, bottom-edged his cut and rushed across. Dhoni relayed the ball to Raina who threw but again missed the stumps. The scores were leveled and Bryce McGain had to face the final delivery.
McGain had never hit a four or a six for Victoria in any format. He just needed to get one run here, though. If he had got it, he could have something to say to his 10-year old son on Skype tomorrow. He had a decent day until then; he had taken out Michael Hussey with a flighted legbreak. Now he went for the cut shot but met thin air. The game hurtled to the Super Over
Ashwin had the ball. Hussey hoped Finch would have much of the strike but he had to face the second delivery. Perhaps it was the drizzle, perhaps it was the yips, Ashwin couldn't manage a decent over. And Hussey cashed in. Finch kept looking over his shoulder to see the white ball disappear through the rain. For Ashwin, who had thrown the ball down in anger earlier on, there was no rage at the end of it all. Only sorrow. Perhaps a feeling of embarrassment too lingered. The evening ended with him holding his head. Another youngster, Finch, ended the evening holding his head high. He collected the Man-of-the-Match award and smiled. It was a fascinating evening.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo