• Saurabh Pol

Gladiators only

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

I spent my Sunday recovering from an illness and enjoying my solitude. Being single at twenty six, Sundays are more of a pre Monday for me. It's my duty to spend them wisely lest I torpedo my chances of a healthy start to the work week. I hadn't watched a minute of the Cricket World Cup final. Frankly I didn't care. Guptill's run-out throw had scarred me more than I was willing to admit. But as I was getting ready to sleep around 10 pm, I thought of checking up on some tennis. Five minutes of basking in the glory of Federer.


As I opened Hotstar on my phone, Federer and Djokovic were tangled in an epic face off. Fighting fire with fire, matching finesse with agility, defending against thunderbolts with logic defying composure. These were once in a generation elite athletes scorching the green Wimbledon grass with the lava of desire. The desire to win, the struggle to survive and the gumption to endure. They served, they ran, they parlayed, they smashed but they never gave up.

I couldn't put it down. I knew my Sunday wasn't ending according to plan but I didn't care. Federer was on a Championship point! How could he! He is 38! Is this even possible? The Djoker, in his prime, was supposed to win! But it wasn't to be! Djokovic held on like a Gladiator on his last legs. The crowd wasn't on his side, instead roaring everytime the game favoured the Swiss veteran. But he didn't care. He kept fighting. While this was going on, I suddenly realised the World Cup was mostly going to its last over.


I quickly switched hoping these tennis aliens would hold on for just ten more minutes. I wanted New Zealand to win - the sheep country deserved it! But Ben Stokes, a Kiwi himself, was doing what Pandya and Pant should have done. He held on and maybe read the Sunday script which demanded Gladiators and not mere sportsmen. As wickets kept falling around him due to astute Kiwi bowling, fielding and captaincy, Stokes flicked, hooked and ran. The runs required were mounting and he had to take risks. He hit Ferguson over long on only to be caught! But wait, no! The fielder touched the boundary! It was a six. What was happening! Doesn't matter. Last over needed 15 runs and the first two were dots. Boult was bowling like a World Champion would in the final over! Stokes was still hanging on as he hit a six off the third ball to oscillate the pendulum of fate all by himself. 9 needed off three!


Stokes once again cleared the bowler on the leg side, rushed to complete a two while Martin "Run-out" Guptill threw the ball at the keeper's end only for it to hit Stokes' bat and go for a four bringing the runs scored from that ball to 6!? What the hell was going on!? Is this allowed? Surely that's a mistake. The entire New Zealand team was staring at each other in disbelief but umpires deemed it fair and within the rules of the game. Two runs needed off the last ball and it's again a run out!? Draw! Super over now!? Dude kya chalu hai!? There's a tennis match going on too? It felt like I last saw one five years ago. Long story short, New Zealand matched the super over score of England's 15 but couldn't make it to 16 because of, yes you guessed it right, a run out!!!!! England were Champions! For the first time ever in ODI history!


Exhausted, I quickly switched to tennis only to be facing an update - Djokovic prevailed. Against two Championship points, a hostile crowd and the greatest tennis player of all time, Djokovic proved he was a rightful member of the Holy Trinity along with Nadal.

Oh and it was now well past midnight and I couldn't sleep for the next half an hour. Today is a Monday. I've a headache. I should have slept at 10 pm. Thank God I didn't!

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