2nd year of engineering had just begun, and I was already flustered by the convoluted words used by the Computer Science Department’s faculty. Being the fun-loving guy that I was, I had joined a team of students that could give me some opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities, organize events, etc. — the PICT IEEE Student Branch. I had volunteered for an online competition called the Network Treasure Hunt, popularly known as NTH. We used to create puzzles and riddles for the treasure hunt regularly, and were ready to host the competition online after a couple of months’ hard work. I had to stay awake the entire night along with the NTH team to monitor the competition, which was highly exhausting. I had been awake for more than 24 hours, before finally falling asleep at 5 in the morning, expecting a good, peaceful sleep.
My deep slumber was broken by the shrill noise made by Vishal’s phone call at 7:30 am. To my utter shock, he told me that trials of our college’s cricket team were going to be conducted at 8 am, which meant I had less than 30 minutes to wake from bed, freshen up and reach the basketball court in time.
My heartbeat sped up a bit at the sight of over 50 others on the basketball court, in all-whites, waiting for the trials to begin. The last time I had played cricket with a leather ball was 3 years ago in school, and I was more used-to playing with a tennis ball on our basketball court, whenever time permitted. A very strong will to be part of the college cricket team made me slightly nervous, as I really wanted to make it to the team.
A few seniors of the Cricket Team were maintaining a list of all students who were trying out for the team. I approached them to get my name registered with them, and get started with the trials. After asking some basic details, they asked me if I was a bowler or a batsman. I confidently stated that I was an all-rounder. It was a fairly simple answer for me. However, the seniors asked me again whether I was a bowler or a batsman — again, I told them that I was an all-rounder. Then, they made it clear to me that I could only try out as a bowler or a batsman. Within a moment, hundreds of thoughts passed through my mind, which made the decision difficult for me! I knew that I could bat as well as bowl equally well, but they wanted to see only one of these sides. What if I chose the wrong option and failed? Did the team require a batsman or a bowler? Would I do better as a batsman or a bowler as compared to others who had come for the trial? I was thoroughly puzzled.
Finally, I made it clear to them that I hadn’t batted since a long time against a leather ball, hence I would try out as a bowler.
After a short warm-up session and some catch-practice, bowling and batting began. One by one, others who had come for the trial batted or bowled, while I fielded, waiting patiently for my turn.
After fielding for about 45 minutes, a senior called up my name. I started preparing myself mentally before going out to bowl. The current batsman played his last delivery, and I was going to bowl to the next batsman.
All of a sudden, a senior asked me to pad-up and go out to bat next. His words sent shivers down my spine, as it was against what my mind was prepared for. I went blank for a while and didn’t know what to do or say. I tried to remain calm and composed, and just padded up quickly. To be honest, I was scared to death while walking to the crease.
I strategised and decided to defend the ball properly instead of playing big shots or drives, because defense is easy, but to play big shots, you need to time the ball well; and since I was batting after a long time, I was pretty under-confident about my batting.
I defended the very first ball. A proper, dead defence, with my whole bat on the ball. It gave me a lot of confidence. Again, I defended the next ball. For the next 8 to 10 deliveries, I just defended properly. Later, one of the seniors asked me to play some shots and drives.
We were playing on the basketball court, which had a cemented wicket. Due to that, the ball was coming nicely on to the bat. I started playing some drives, which connected well with the bat and I knew I could play similar shots continuously. After playing a few more deliveries, they asked me to pad-down and get back to fielding. I could gather from their faces that they were happy with my batting.
However, I wasn’t sure if I would get selected or not. So, I asked the seniors if I could also bowl, as I was supposed to try out for bowling. I asserted that I am a better bowler than a batsman, yet they were adamant about not letting me bowl.
Trials ended after another hour of play, and we all headed back to our hostels, exhausted. The list of selected players was to be unveiled in the evening.
Fortunately, I got a call to play as a batsman in the team. My friends Vishal, Rupesh and Manav got selected in the team as well. The day ended on a good note and I could sleep peacefully.
Yippee! Got Selected for the college’s Cricket Team.